Sermon for Sunday November 10, 2019
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Amen!
“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants;” (Is. 24:4-5)
Whether we are politically fueled or genuinely intrigued – we have all heard arguments for or against climate change. Green house gases, emissions and pollutants have destroyed the earth; It’s all fake science, it is all about business and we are over exaggerating it all – two of the prevailing arguments when it comes to the environment and climate change. As the Church we should not argue one way or the other, because as children of God we ultimately believe One truth – that God, having created humanity in His Divine Image, placed us on this earth and gave us dominion, gave us stewardship to tend and take care of all creation. From the smallest animals to the largest trees – the calling of each one of us is to take care and strengthen this world. However, as we read repeatedly throughout scriptures, humanity has continually broken communion with God by not remaining faithful to what humans were called to and rather lived in a sin. Thus not taking care of this world, breaking communion and filling the earth with “sin”– we have filled it with pollution. We have clear-cut forests and dumped garbage into the seas. We have raged war in the fields and spilled blood over hills and valley’s. We have not taken care of creation. Yet, it should not come as a surprise to us that we have done this and continue to pollute this world.
In the Gospel of Luke, we read of how Christ Jesus came into the home of Jairus, a man whose daughter had just died and approaching her directly, Jesus took her hand and raised her to life. Just this act alone was so powerful because according to Jewish tradition and law, if any person touched or came in contact with a corpse they were automatically deemed unclean and polluted. The unclean were shunned and people did not associate with them. The unclean were the isolated, the mocked and the outcasts. And unless they went through a ritualistic cleansing and were deemed cleaned, they remained outcasts.
Yet, Christ not only approached, not only entered, not only held – but in doing so, Christ took her pollution, her impurity and cleansed her by giving back life. Christ’s love and compassion transformed the pollution and corruption into life. Christ Jesus is the cleansing of our uncleanliness and of the pollution of the world. So when I state that it does not amaze me that our actions and attitudes of polluting and corrupting our environment continue, it stems from the reality that we do worse to us, we deliberately make ourselves unclean.
What do we pollute our lives and ourselves with? What about our communities, our work places, our families, our Church? What kind of pollutants do we bring in? How do we make ourselves unclean? My dears, we actively pollute our lives with negativity, anger, gossip and we actively pursue uncleanliness by our actions, our thoughts and words. We create pollution in our lives and in the lives of those around us by not recognizing the child of God in others. We sit in Church, we pray, we sing – then we go into the hall downstairs and judge each others behavior, dress and livelihood. We receive the precious body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as forgiveness, as a cleansing of our uncleanliness then we spend the rest of our days in the week putting faith and hope in idols, in manifestations of our mind – in everything and anything that is not God. We pollute ourselves my dear brothers and sisters, by not pursuing and deepening our Communion with God and with each other.
As St. Paul teaches us, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery;” To understand the will of the Lord, to be filled with the Holy Spirit as St. Paul continues, to be cleansed from “sin” that is the pollutant of our life requires of us communion with God. And this union is done through the Holy Cup, and also through repentance and confession. Not the confession we quickly do before Holy Communion, but genuine private confession, where we sit and ponder and speak directly to God through the guidance of the priest. Then having risen from confession and having received the Body and Blood, communion is continued by how we then extend our faith to the rest of our surroundings. The people we love and the people we don’t agree with. The people in Church and the people in the workplace. Because to have Communion, to have community, we do not need to have conformity. We, are not the same and we do not need to be the same but we are each created equally in the divine image and we are each born into a world that is polluted and sinful and we are each equally called to be stewards, to be healers of that world. A world that desperately needs a cleaning, a cleaning that can only happen in the person of Christ Jesus who takes our pollution and gives us life. Through Holy Baptism, we not only are physically washed, but having died in Christ – we are reborn and resurrecting through Him.
My dear brothers and sisters, what are we polluting our lives with? What are we allowing, what are we doing, what are we filling our time with in this world that is breaking our union with God, that is drying us up, that is making us unclean and unapproachable?
We must pray that God our Father, through the Holy Spirit gives us direction and illuminates our hearts and minds to understand what those things are and to learn to embrace and to accept that the communion with God in Church must continue to be communion with God through each other out there – through our actions, thoughts, words, desires, hopes and dreams. Let us pray that by attaining the Holy Communion, which is given to us freely for the cleansing, forgiveness and remission of our sins – we will continually strive to remain in Holy Communion with Christ Jesus everywhere. Because as Christ Jesus taught us – we cannot love others, if we do not love ourselves; we cannot love the world, if we do not love ourselves. God loves us unconditionally and desires Communion with us – in order to teach us how to love ourselves and to love the rest of this world. So that having been cleansed and healed, we will begin cleaning and healing this world – not because of politics or climate change but because of our communion with God, one another and all creation. A communion which glorifies our Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit eternally Amen!