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Call to Worship
Come, let us dwell in God’s shelter. Let us dwell in God’s work of art.
All: Come, because the Earth is the Lord’s, And God’s Earth is our home.
We live in God’s World; we are not alone. We share this life with the heavens and the earth, With the waters and the land, With trees and grasses, With fish, birds, and animals,
All: With minerals and creatures of every form, And with all our brothers and sisters.
God is good and everything God makes is good.
All: God is love and everything God makes is love’s fruit.
Lord, the air smells good today, straight from the mysteries within the garden of God. The trees in their prayer, the birds in praise, the first blue violets, kneeling. Amen
The Wisdom of Marlee Matlin
The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.
God saw everything that had been created, and indeed, it was all very good.
By Divine Will the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of Life. God gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle and put the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth be in awe of the Source of life; let all the inhabitants of the world revere the One Power. For God desired, and it came to be; God affirmed, and it stood firm.
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“And God Said It Was All Good”
When we read the creation myths in the book of Genesis there is one overriding theme throughout God’s act of creating the earth. God proclaims the whole of creation GOOD. That means water and dry land, insects, birds, animals… humans, of course, and both the light AND the darkness. In the US, and in most of the rest of the world, we live in cultures that privilege the light or lightness and marginalize the dark or darkness.
We all love a bright sunny day. We love to see the sun rise early over the ocean. We turn up the lights to get to work. But we also like to turn down the lights in the evening and relax. We enjoy watching the sunset and darkness cover the land like a blanket. We close our eyes and drift off to sleep. The quiet and stillness of the night has a sweetness. We are conceived and grow in the darkness of the womb. Some of the greatest spiritual growth happens during the darkest times of our lives.
God said it was all good. ALL good. How could it be anything else? We are taught in our earliest Christian training that God is love. Can love produce evil? No love can only produce love. And love is good therefore all that was created by love is good! In my opinion, my educated and very long and deeply considered view, Christianity has been tainted, warped, actually corrupted by the Doctrine of Original Sin.
To refresh your memory, the Doctrine of Original Sin espoused by the Bishop of Hippo now known as St. Augustine, holds that humans are born into the world in sin. Think about that for a moment. Most of us have seen a newborn baby. Does the word evil come to mind? Of course not. How could the most helpless, innocent form of humanity be considered evil? It’s an absurd proposition.
Augustine and Pelagius were arguing. Pelagius said that evil is a result of human choice made for less than noble purposes. Humans acting in fear, rage, greed, jealousy act in unloving ways. If love equals good. Unloving equals evil.
But Augustine argued that sin enters the world as a result of Adam and Eve’s “original sin” of eating from the tree of knowledge. It’s no accident that Augustine won the argument even though to our critical thinking modern mind his premise seems flawed. If Pelagius’ point of view had prevailed, the evil perpetrated by the empire would have been laid squarely at the feet of the emperor. But if Augustine’s Doctrine of Original Sin prevailed, evil is explained as a human condition manifested by our birth. The Doctrine of Original Sin absolves the powerful from responsibility for the constructs of privilege and oppression that stratify humanity and hold together class, race, and gender objectification.
That’s how we got here. Now what do we do about it? I am coming to believe that how humanity treats the earth is the “canary in the coal mine” for the ethical health of humanity. The fact that this summer was the hottest since records have been kept is a wakeup call. The earth is warming. The polar ice caps and ancient glaciers are melting. The weather is becoming more extreme all over the world, yet many of those in power in the two most economically powerful countries in the world, the US and China, refuse to acknowledge that humans are responsible for their own evil actions. Sound familiar?
God created everything and proclaimed it GOOD. We act in unloving ways, unethical ways, and that produces evil. Period. Our reading from the Psalms today says, “Let all the earth be in awe of the Source of life; let all the inhabitants of the world revere the One Power.”
We’ve talked several times over this summer about my view that the concept of One God does not refer to a singular, particular, set apart entity that we call God. Rather I believe that the One God describes the oneness of all of creation. We are all part of the One Power. “Let all the inhabitants of the world revere the One Power.”
When we see each other as part of one family we begin to grasp the logic of ethical living. When I treat you well, I treat myself well. When I care for the earth, I care for my own family. When I make the world a better place my life becomes an expression of love.
Taking care of the earth is loving our neighbor as ourselves. Living an ethical life is in our own self-interest. So when you hear so-called Christians advocating for building walls and fences to keep out the stranger, read the sacred texts. When you hear so-called Christians telling us that jobs are more important than protecting the earth read the sacred texts.
Genesis 1.31: God saw everything that had been created, and indeed, it was all very good. Amen.
Listen to Tracy Chapman's "Heaven Here On Earth"