Proper 18 Year B

Reflection on Psalm 146: 4-9, by the Rev Dcn Helen Hanten

Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise forever.
(vs 4-5)

Happy are they, indeed, for in wildness is found everything humans needed to flourish in the created order, in balance with the web of life and its system of interdependence of all living things in their environment. How easily we are enticed into thinking we can use it all for our own good. We tend to evaluate the worth of any other species by how its existence benefits ours – forgetting that the same creator made everything in heaven, on earth and in the sea.

When we Change Ourselves, the World is Changed, by Greg Newswanger

Excerpt: Jesus is confronted by reality in the form of a pleading Gentile woman. He attempts to dismiss her and go about what he understands his life to be. But gradually he realizes that to truly engage the woman in front of him – the reality of the situation – he must broaden his circle of care, compassion, and love and include this woman, her daughter, and the Gentile people. I suggest that interpreting the story in this manner holds possibilities for us as we confront the reality of the environmental crises of our time. We too are in the presence of a reality that is not going away. It is asking for our time and attention. The reality of the environmental crises was not part of our plan. But now it is everywhere we look; a question of our lifetime. In what ways do we need to broaden our awareness and expand our consciousness as we find our responses?

Complete Sermon:

Virtue and Folly, by Patricia Tull

Excerpt: What do these traditional virtues have to do with creation care? Every folly scriptural wisdom decries contributes in some way to ecological devastation. And each virtue Scripture teaches is an ingredient for healthy creation care.

Self-control and its evil twin greed come to mind first. Eagerness for gain leads individuals and corporations to take shortcuts that externalize the high costs of mining, manufacturing, and discarding, leaving neighbors to pay the price. Satisfaction with what can be gained without harm, however, leads to blessed contentment.

Complete Article:

Basic Fairness, by Kieth Innes

Excerpt: Climate change bears most heavily on areas that have the least resources. Scientists expect increased droughts in dry areas and more floods in wet regions. Millions of people in low-lying areas are at risk from sea level rise, and have little opportunity to build defences.

Basic fairness dictates that we embrace necessary change ourselves, and that we lobby, give and pray in the interests of those who are most helpless and are also victims of our own profligate use of fossil fuels. The lesson is reinforced by our other readings. Proverbs 22 speaks of our basic equality before the Lord (verse 2); insists on justice and generosity (8-9); and warns of judgement against those who ‘rob the poor because they are poor’ (22-23).

Complete Reflection: (p.2)

Reflection on Mark 7:24-37, by the Rev. Sally Maxwell

People brought their friend to Jesus for healing. Jesus modestly healed him, organically so by touching the man’s ears and tongue. The man’s ability to hear and speak were “opened”, that is healed. Prior to this the man had been an outcast, but now he was liberated. Jesus had “done well”.

Sallie McFague, in her book, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1993) comments on Jesus’ healing stories as they relate to the sickness of the planet, and its need for healing. She claims that human bias has made nature and the earth an “outcast”, to be used only for human needs. She says that healing stories are extremely valuable during these times of ecological destruction; they can help to break down the denial of how ill the planet really is.

McFague wants us to focus on the health of all creation. Her model of the world (and the universe) as God’s body encourages a daringness to love God’s body, that is to love and care for the earth as God’s body. Please reference McFague’s book for a fuller grasp of her important theological lens.

Responding to climate change is a matter reaching to the heart of faith. By Tom Mundahl

Excerpt: Although in our care for creation we seek a sense of “the common,” a sensitive and hospitable relationship with all that God has made, the actual situation is quite different. Norman Wirzba captures it all too accurately: “It is no accident that having privatized the idea of salvation and then postponed its fulfillment to another time and place, professedly religious individuals have no difficulty abusing the earth and other people for their own ends. This life, supposedly, can be sacrificed for another” (Wirzba, The Paradise of God: Renewing  Religion in an Ecological Age  Oxford: 2003, p. 20). Today’s readings squarely confront this challenge. They move us beyond the ‘wound’ of privatization as Jesus, the servant of creation, continues to break private boundaries, freeing us to see over the walls we have erected.

We see this immediately in the First Lesson from Isaiah. In this text, closer to the tradition of Second Isaiah, freedom for exiles in Babylon is intimately connected with the healing of the blind, the mute, and the lame (Isaiah 35. 5-6). What’s more, this act of liberation reverberates into the natural world as “waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35. 6b). Freedom is cut from a whole cloth: a “new exodus” from Babylon joins metaphors of personal healing with the renewal of creation.

Complete Article:

Reflection on Isaiah 35:4-7a by the Rev Dcn Helen Hanten

This writer, after telling the people to have heart, God will come to save them, likens the joy and celebration to the joy of clean good water.”For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.” What a blessing we have when water is clean and abundant! What a shame to waste  or pollute  water! Water cycles through the bodies of all living things, and no life is possible without it. As stewards of God’s creation, concern for clean water must be a priority.