Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday Sermon- April 26, 2009

“So, Why did the Republican Buy a Prius?”

Genesis 1:1-25, John 1:1-14

Earth Stewardship Sunday

April 26, 2009

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Minneapolis, MN

It was on a Friday night twenty years ago, that I went to conference at a Lutheran church in Lansing, Michigan. I was a junior in college and part of a Baptist college group which had arrange for me and for others to attend this meeting. The subject of the event was a seminar on creation and evolution, or more to the point, how evolution was a lie that was designed to bring about a “liberal agenda” and that what happened in Genesis 1 , that God created in the earth in six, 24 hour days- really happened. They tried to use scientific means to try to prove this.

I didn’t know what to believe back then. I didn’t wholeheartedly accept what they were peddaling, but I knew that Genesis 1 was true to me.

Six months later, a few of my friends went down to a park in Lansing where there was an Earth Day celebration. It was the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970, and being that I had an interest in caring for the environment, I went. I can say that I had a good time at that event, though I wasn’t planning on joining the people who dressed like hippies or were vegetarians.

Those two experiences left me wondering how one can be a Christian and care for the environment. I thought it was important, but people around me thought the environmental movement was filled with people who would take one away from God. I didn’t really buy that, but I didn’t see many people trying to connect our faith in God with love for God’s world.

Two decades later and we see that my question has been answered. We are honoring God’s creation today in worship and accross the nation and around the world, people of faith come together to seek ways to respect Creation.

But there is still a lot to do. The church needs to be a force that reminds the world that this is God’s world and we repent and change our ways.

But to do that, we need to understand why this is an issue of faith. Genesis 1 is perhaps one of the most well known texts, and yet it is the most misunderstood. For some, it is considered a true telling of how the world came to be. They treat it as science. Others see it as a silly tale that gets in the way of the real science. Now, I don’t think first chapter of Genesis is a scientific fact. It just isn’t. But if we are followers of Jesus, we can’t ignore either. So, then what does this passage have to say to us? What does it have to say about caring for the environment?

What Genesis 1 and John 1 for that matter, is that God created this world around us. At the beginning of time, before there was even a world that existed, God was there and God started creating. In one of the stories in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Aslan, the mighty lion which represents God, creates Narnia, by singing. Science and evolution has its place in describing how the world came into being, but this story is a poem, a love song that shows how God lovingly creates the stars, the seas and the animals. This isn’t some scientific text, but a love note. When we read this text, we are reminded that God loves the world, the whole world. This is what Genesis 1 says, “I am love with you.”

You see that behind me, there is a cross with flowers on it. The flowering of the cross is an ancient Easter tradition. It symbolizes life coming from death. Easter isn’t simply about Jesus coming back from the dead. It is about the healing of all of creation. Jesus, the Son of Man, which in Hebrew is adam, which is in itself a taken from the Hebrew word adamah or earth, is the one that not only brings humanity and God back together though his life,death and ressurection, but he heals the rift brought on by the first Adam, when he and Eve decided that those apples on that Tree of Life would mae a good apple pie. Jesus, Adamah, heals creation. The curse of the first Adam is gone.

So what does this have to do with us and the environment? Well, it’s this: if God created this world in love, if God in Jesus lived, died and rose again to heal creation, then what is our response?

When people start to talk about the environment, one can at times feel a sense of dread. Someone that is shaming us for not paying attention to the environment and urging us to give up our 21 century lifestyles to go off and live in the woods.

I can understand that people want to highlight the importance of caring for the earth and because of growing problems like global warming, but I don’t think we should be urged to do good by being made to feel guilty. I think we should do things out of joy and not simply obligation.

So, how do we as Christians care for the environment. With joy! We do this, because God created the world in love. We were created in love. And in response, we love God back by caring for that which God made in love. It’s that simple.

Now, to do this, you don’t need to go and live in the woods eating nuts and berries. It’s simple little things that can make a big impact and can be a love letter to God. It might be using a cloth shopping bag, or a compact flourescent light bulb, or using cleaning supplies that are less harmful on the environment. There is a lot more one can do, but this is a small way of showing love to God and to God’s world. Think of it as a love letter back to God.

One of those “little things” include buying fuel efficient cars which leads me to that sermon title. Ummm, well I’m the guy that drives the Prius and yes, I am the Republican as well. I didn’t bring up my political persuasion to endorse a candidate or to make you all vote a certain way, but to prove a point: caring for the environment is not a hippy liberal thing. It is not as the man at the seminar twenty years ago believed a way to bring on some wacky left wing agenda. No, caring for the environment is a moral and spiritual issue. We can disagree on how to best deal with it in our halls of government, but we as followers of Jesus, it is our issue. This is our God’s world to not care for it, to not acknowledge God’s love of all of creation is....well it’s being an ingrate. God has shown God’s love for us and when we don’t honor God’s creation, we spurn God’s love.

Can one be a Christian and care for the earth? Well, if you have to ask...

Thanks be to God, for the sun and the moon and the trees and the mountains and all of God’s creation. Amen.

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