1st Scripture Reading: Lamentations 1:1-6 & 3:19-26
To lament: to mourn, to wail, to express sorrow, to grieve for, my dictionary says. The probably unknown author of these poems was clearly grieving for the fallen city of Jerusalem, and the sorry state of its inhabitants.
Death and destruction, loss of freedom, homes, security – these are common themes thru the history of the human race. The history of the planet is not uneventful either: ice ages, volcanic eruptions, massive earthquakes and even asteroid collisions, not to mention fire and flood!
Until recently, it was generally believed that these natural disasters, and the human-caused disasters were unrelated. But some things have changed. In the last century some major things have happened in our human world. Massive industrialization with attendant mass migration of people to the cities where that was happening, plus exponential and unprecedented growth in human population have impacted the natural world in ways we could not have imagined. Our population alone has restricted habitat for other species to critical levels and we are experiencing a mass extinction. Our need for more and more natural resources has led to dangerous and destructive mining and forestry practices such as fracking (which causes earthquakes and often contaminates drinking water sources) and clear cut logging ( which destroys habitat and leads to soil erosion) . Wholesale destruction of our forests by logging and burning is causing great concern among environmental scientists as the forests act as huge carbon sinks, to some extent relieving pressure on the ozone layer. Trees are truly the lungs of the earth- sequestering carbon while at the same time producing the oxygen we need to breathe.
We are beginning I think, to lament the damage we are doing and the situation we now find ourselves in. The author of Lamentations, like us these days, didn’t see any easy way out of the dilemma faced by the Jewish people. There probably is no easy way out of our own situation with regard to the health of the planet. We must, I believe, take responsibility for our poor stewardship in the past and move forward as best we can to protect the earth for countless species, and our own grandchildren. And there is still God. “Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
Hymn # 288 VU “Great is Thy Faithfulness
2nd Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-14 & Luke 17:5-10
Jesus was no slouch. People didn’t laze around with him waiting for good things to happen. He was all about mission. What does God want him, me or you, to do? There is after all, a harvest to be brought in. There are people to be healed. There is a system that needs to be reformed. There is injustice to be corrected. There are lessons to be taught and learned. There is much of God’s work to be done, and it is all around us, and it is ours to do.
We are all called to do different things, we each have a unique purpose in this good life. We have all had our eyes opened to see something of what God expects us to do. And we all know that we are beloved children of God whether we are successful or not.
And we are not special or honoured or better paid than our brothers and sisters who have achieved less for God – for the Good – than we have. As part of the whole – the one-ness of God’s Creation – we are not of more value to God than our neighbour. As part of the unity of Creation, we are not of more value than hummingbirds or elephants or chimpanzees.
For God so loved the world, that God sent us Jesus to show us our blindness, our arrogance, and our failure to love what God loves. We can do better people of God. We must do better. If we are open and willing, God will help us do better, for only we can create the kindom of God here on Earth.
Hymn #174MV “Soil of God, You and I”