4/23/16 Mother Jenni Walker’s Earth Day Sermon

Reading 2

REV 21:1-5A

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.

The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,

and the sea was no more.

I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,

coming down out of heaven from God,

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.

He will dwell with them and they will be his people

and God himself will always be with them as their God.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes,

and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,

for the old order has passed away.”

The One who sat on the throne said,

“Behold, I make all things new.”

 

Gospel

JN 13:31-33A, 34-35

(When Judas had left them, Jesus said,

“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

If God is glorified in him,

God will also glorify him in himself,

and God will glorify him at once.)

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.

I give you a new commandment: love one another.

As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

This is how all will know that you are my disciples,

if you have love for one another.”

Of course I was pretty delighted to have one of my favorite Gospels be the reading today. Not just one of my favorites, but probably the summary of Jesus’ whole message! To Love one another as he loved us…this brings me such sweetness and courage and power. If we can really receive deeply the love of the Beloved, then doesn’t that lead us naturally to that flow of Love continuing through us to others? Isn’t this our ultimate aim, beyond even our own personal salvation or enlightenment? To be the Love that is the Divine One, the Christ that we each are.

To Love One Another…This gospel made me think again about what “One Another” might mean. We are coming to understand, as the indigenous cultures have always known, that “One Another” actually means all the Beings of this Earth, all our relations- all sentient creatures. And even our understanding of who, or what counts as a Sentient Being is expanding, for we can feel the presence of the Great Spirit in trees and rocks and rivers and mountains, too. As we westerners grow and evolve, (often back to the wisdom of our indigenous ancestors), we are coming to embrace the paradox of the Many and the One, seeing the One we call God expressed through the glorious Diversity we see all around us.

I think Jesus was completely connected to the Oneness of all Creation, because he was a pretty earthy guy. I mean, he sat on the ground, as well as walked on water. He was so connected to the forces of life on this planet that he could command a storm to cease. He used his own spit to heal the blind, and he used the elements of earth, the bread and wine, to symbolize his own body, as well as his teachings. It has always confused and amused me to see the Christian offense at Earth-based religions, when the very core of Christian worship, the sharing of Christ’s Body and Blood, is about as Pagan as you can get! Right?

There are some who believe Jesus was an Essene, a spiritual sect of his day living in harmony with nature, and research about them reveals a worship cycle that honored the seasons. The fact that Jesus seems to have spoken largely through nature-based parables affirms to me how earth connected he was. He understood the foibles of human nature, and had immense compassion.

Jesus loved. He saw, (or sees, depending on your beliefs), our Beauty, our magnificent and precious Souls. He understands the Blessing that we, and all Creation are. His sacrifice may have led to the end of animal sacrifice. On whatever level you understand the Jesus story, in it he offered all his Love, even unto death…and we are invited to do the same.

So how do we better Love this precious Earth that is our home? David Panosh shared with me last week about the “4 A’s “ from Deepak Chopra. Thank you David, for giving me my sermon! The 4 A’s are: Attention, Appreciation, Affection, and Acceptance. Deepak uses them for building relationships with other humans, which of course they are great for…but I thought they worked equally well for our relationship with the natural world we are a part of. So here are a few ideas:

Attention: We can be paying better attention. Luckily, the Scientists, as well as pretty striking things like Climate change, severe weather, and the loss of so many species from our planet is waking many folks up. I am proud that people from many spiritual traditions, along with so many other grassroots organizations, have been working hard to educate and inspire change. But as creatures of habit, there are so many things we prefer to stay blind to. I highly recommend this book, “The Green Book”, which has many ideas for little changes that can make a big difference. Little things, like using bar soap instead of body wash that comes in plastic. If everyone in America did this, 2.5 million pounds of plastics could be diverted from the waste stream. Or this, I had no idea: text messaging or emailing from a mobile phone uses 30 times less energy than emailing from a regular computer. On that note, laptops are better than regular computers, they use up to 50% less energy…who knew ? There are so many things in here I didn’t know! I know we each do a lot, but there is always more we can do.

I had a wake up call just this morning, when I went to the lobby to get tea, as I do every Sunday…and I used their disposable cup. Now why aren’t I bringing my own coffee mug?

So we need to pay attention, to see what’s going on in our world, and to be conscious of the little choices we make, moment by moment, day by day. We are in this situation together, and we in America have a Lion’s share of the fault, so it seems to me we should take on a Lion’s share of the caring.

Next, Appreciation. This where we open our hearts in gratitude for the beauty that surrounds us. This can be easy, since we have so much of it here. But it can also extend to the things that sustain us, like the water flowing through our pipes, or the energy that powers our lives. When we appreciate things, we can be more likely to use less, to see it as precious. We know this is true with eating, when we slow down to really appreciate a meal. The same can be true with everything we consume. We can also spend time in appreciation practice. I know you have your own practices, but here is another one: Thich Nhat Hahn, that sweet Vietnamese monk, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, invites us to do walking meditation, smiling with appreciation into the earth with every step we take. Isn’t this lovely? Try it!

This kind of practice leads naturally to the next: Affection. This is my favorite, because it feels the best, feels the most like love. This is easy to do in our everyday lives, mostly, though we often just forget about it. But talking to plants and trees and animals, with affection, really does change your relationship with them. I think the greater Call, though, is to be affectionate beyond our small personal world. This is expressing our affection for the plants and animals and other humans we can’t see. If we can generate affection for those we can’t see, it will help us to make the little everyday changes in our lives that will ultimately impact them. So pray for and sign those petitions about causes that will alleviate suffering. Eat cage free or humanely raised animals, or better yet, if you can, eat them less, or not at all. Donate to those causes that you know will help, and volunteer to help where and when you can. Now Jesus doesn’t say here “you should feel guilty if you don’t love”, (and I’m not trying to do that either ) no, he simply tells us to love. This is important, and if we each take on simply loving and caring when and where we can, as much as we can, we may have a chance at turning things around. Don’t guilt yourself into it, just focus your heartlight.

And lastly, Acceptance. You know, this is the last stage in the grief process, and I think that it is relevant to us now. We will have to die to some of our addictions and habits. We will grieve about that. We will grieve the weather changes happening, because of the animals and ecosystems, and even humans who will die as a result of our collective selfishness. But hopefully, we will buck up, and accept that things are as they are, and that we are needed in a way that humans have never been needed before- to clean up the mess we have made, to make some sacrifices, to truly care in ways we have never had to before. Certainly Jesus did not have to deal with what is upon us now, except, EXCEPT as the Christ Living and Loving through us now. And so this, we can accept, too. We are the Body of Christ, the Heart and Hands of the Divine acting in history, now. And we are being called to accept that, to accept the responsibility of that. It is beautiful to be a child of god, but isn’t it time we also became adults of God?

So, let us pay attention to our beautiful Earth home, and to what we are doing, or not doing to harm or help it. Let us appreciate every little and big gift from Creation we receive. Let us melt our hearts of stone, and extend our tender affection for all our relations. Let us accept what the Earth needs from us, and accept our role in making the changes that might save it.

I have given out these packets of High Plains wildflower seeds meant for our area, so that we each might plant them and care for them. Cover them with a little soil, and make sure they get water twice a week. As they grow, may we be inspired by their fragile Beauty to remember to care for our precious Earth Home.

I will finish with this beautiful Poem from ‘Earth Prayers’ by Ishpriya R.S.C.J.

O Holy One, I ran through the fields and gathered flowers of a thousand colors-

And now I pour them out at Your feet.

Their beauty and their brightness shout for joy in Your presence.

You created the flowers of the fields and made each one far more lovely

Than all the skill of man could design.

Accept my joy along with theirs,

This field of blossoms at your feet.

Holy One

As the wind blows through these flowers

Till they dance in the ecstacy of creation,

Send Your Spirit to blow through my being

Till I too bloom and dance with the fullness of Your life.

 

Amen

 

 

 

 


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