19th Sunday after Pentecost, year B, 2015 (preached 10/4/15)
first reading: Genesis 2:18-24
second reading: Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
gospel reading: Mark 10:2-16
***today’s sermon is a bit shorter than usual to accommodate our blessing of the animals liturgy
So – here’s what’s before us today in our readings: the creation of the first people and animals, the beauty of creation, being put in charge of that creation, Jesus’ suffering – and marriage, divorce and children.
Here’s what’s going on in our world: a refugee crisis not seen since WWII, yet another mass shooting, local food pantries struggling to keep up with the need, and our little blessing of the animals.
Wow. Where to begin? It’s too much to tackle everything in detail in the few short minutes we’re here together.
What I DO see as a kind of common thread, and perhaps a message for us to ponder, is found in our Psalm and reading from Hebrews.
The psalmist praises God and God’s creation, then shows our place as humans in relation to it. The psalmist writes: “You have made [human beings] little less than divine; with glory and honor you crown them. You have made them rule over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet…”
The writer of Hebrews quotes this passage, then adds, “Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control.” But ALSO adds, “As it is we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we DO see Jesus…”
We’re given a hierarchy, if you will, in these readings. God is creator, Jesus at the right hand of God, the angels, US, then the rest of creation.
God’s intention is for creation to be subject to you and me. It’s not perfect yet, and when it’s not then, “we do see Jesus.”
What does it mean to have creation subject to us? What does it mean that God has left us in control? And how does our relationship to one another figure in?
Again, the writer of Hebrews tells us “we do see Jesus.”
Jesus is our model. Jesus is our guide. Jesus is our teacher. Jesus shows us the way. Jesus IS the way.
So how does Jesus lead? How does he lord over us? What does he do with the power he has at the right hand of God?
He uses that power to love, to serve, to show mercy, to sacrifice, to give his life.
This is how We need to do it. We don’t bully the earth, we don’t throw our power around, and we certainly don’t bully each other.
The world in which we live is broken.
Broken because of political fighting which brings death and suffering caused by our desire to get and keep power. Broken because of our inability to see that God has put creation under our feet, NOT so we can stomp on it and pummel it, but so that we can tend it – to SERVE it, so that it may serve us and future generations.
Broken because of selfishness and greed and our amazing ability to take one another for granted and ruin our relationships. Broken because we allow violence of all kinds towards one another – violence in words and fists and guns – that maim and kill our bodies and souls.
Broken because our neighbors down the street and across the globe are homeless and hungry, so much so that our food pantries can hardly keep up.
Jesus charges us over and over again to love one another, to care for one another, to forgive one another. But many times, I dare say MOST of the time, we don’t do a very good job of it, in our dealings with people across the ocean, across the street, and in our homes.
Today in worship we are celebrating the place of our animal companions in our lives. We’re acknowledging them as gifts that God has given us. We acknowledging that God cherishes them because God created them – them and every creature on land and in the sea and sky. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s a beautiful thing. It reminds us of OUR job to take care of them.
But let us not forget that while God has given us this calling to love and care for them and all creation, it is also our calling to love and care for one another.
To be in the broken world, as broken people. But broken as we are, we DO see Jesus.
We see Jesus, who in his great love for us became broken himself. We see Jesus, who through his love and suffering frees us from the power of sin. We see Jesus who calls us to himself, who grants us mercy and grace and forgiveness and love and blessing.
We see Jesus who lifts us up when we fall, carries us when we’re tired, strengthens us when we’re weak. We see Jesus, who, through our calling to love and care for each other and all creation – sends us out to also act in the same way towards each other.
We see Jesus who is the light in the darkness of our lives and of the world. We see Jesus who forgives us when we fail.
Thank God that when we win, and especially when we LOSE, we see Jesus.