Environmental Sermon Pentecost 13 September 8, 2019

Jeremiah 18:1-11      Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17             Philemon 1-21           Luke 14:25-33

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Listen to these beautiful words from our Psalm today. 

Lord, you yourself created my inmost parts;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb;  I am marvellously made;  while I was being made in secret, my limbs yet unfinished in the womb were written in your book;  fashioned day by day, when as yet there was none”.

It’s so amazing to think how we came together, from minute, complete, yet not completed, tiny organic parts, we were made into a complete person, instantaneously.  It truly is the work of God.  We, truly are the work of God, yet in all our imperfections we are made how we should be the way Jeremiah’s potter makes his wares.

But we don’t accept that, scientists work assiduously at  ‘correcting’  those bits of us seen as wrong.  Science can do wonderful things but any scientist will tell you that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, beware !  Because of this, moral strictures are placed, on their work.  We don’t want any more Joseph Mengeles in operating rooms but we get them anyway.  A Chinese scientist named He in an experiment recently re-engineered DNA in at least three baby girls to prevent them from getting HIV, which can lead to AIDS.  That is totally irresponsible especially as great strides are being made in medicinal treatments for the disease.  The removal of the HIV susceptible gene has left the girls open to other viruses now.  Nature is upset and other scientific work on using viruses to combat harmful bacteria will become useless;  then bacteria will be our curse and eventual demise because viruses and antibiotics fail to treat them.  

The scientific work on viruses is not changing Nature but using what it naturally offers.

Going back to my favourite Bible story, the Creation, I am drawn to the following words.  God said;  “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil;  and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” – therefore the LORD God sent  [Adam and Eve]  forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which  [they were]  taken”  (Genesis 3:22-23).

When we mess around with our DNA we are trying to be like God, and when we do that we always botch the job.  I ask then, to where will God next exile us for such an affront ?  Perhaps we are on the way to a world in permanent Climate turmoil.  Having come from the original perfection of the Garden of Eden to this manageable world, where the environment was stable enough for us to survive and prosper, we seem to be headed to an uncompromising world where survival will be our only desire;  prospering will be a thing of the past.

And it’s not only with us that we meddle and try to do the God thing !  We change plants so that they will become drought or insect resistant, when it may be that we will need seeds, which are flood resistant too, and yes we need insects, they are a part of the Design!  Sadly we always fail when we change God’s Design !  We should have learnt by now to leave well enough alone.

We have been blessed with hindsight, if only we had a little foresight too, but that is God’s privileged territory.  However we should learn from our past experiences.  When we have messed with Nature it hasn’t gone well.  We need to adapt to Nature.  God said  “Till the ground”  He didn’t say  “Change it to suit your needs”.  He said work with what I give you to serve your needs.  We demand fruits and vegetables out of season and produce not native to our land, and it causes problems, such as in California, which provides a lot of our fresh food, especially during the Fall and Winter months, yet California doesn’t have enough water to support the profit motive that drives its production for us.  So it has drained its rivers and aquifers and the mighty Colorado River, which used to flow to the sea now ends in an ignominious puddle in a sandy ditch !  In our arrogance we try to turn deserts into gardens, which doubly curses the land.

In our Gospel today Jesus’ message is harsh but as harsh as it seems, Jesus says that we have to put God first, above all other considerations and relationships, and He and we know that that can and will work for our benefit.  We cannot serve two masters, even Carrie Lam, the Chinese ideologue Leader of Hong Kong, who is in such a pickle right now, admits that to be true.  Why not serve the one true Master who designed this Earth and its Nature by cooperating with His will.  I hope we mean  “Thy will be done”  when we pray it !  But alas our appetites often take precedence.

I am no Luddite but I truly believe that cooperation gets us farther than conflict.  God wants us to cooperate with Him in managing this Good Earth.  Nature and we can get along as long as we accept what is offered as opposed to squeezing just a little bit more or even a lot more out of it.  Nature provides, famine should be a thing of the past, there is enough food and water in the world to feed everyone, we just need to stop fighting among ourselves and forcing our will upon the world causing humanitarian and unnatural disasters.

Bringing lettuce, cucumber or celery to Oxford County is actually importing water, they all contain more than 90% water, and it takes twelve litres of water to grow every almond that we relish at Christmas.  Importing out-of-season produce and luxuries causes others to misuse their natural resources, water especially, and disrupt a necessary balance.  That’s not how we are supposed to till the ground.  We have made our appetites the other Master who competes with God in our lives.  Reconsider Jeremiah, the Psalm and the Gospel, and how they apply to the way we live today, and be grateful for the abundance God has provided and will continue to provide, if we don’t ruin this wonderful world, otherwise we will be reshaped like potter’s clay and that will be painful.  Amen.

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