A number of years ago, when I was in ministry in the Northend of Halifax, I was invited to the ground breaking ceremony of a new L’Arche community. For those of you unfamiliar with L’Arche, it is an intentional community where those with intellectual disabilities live with caregivers in relationships of mutuality. The ground breaking ceremony began with a First Nations elder offering a smudging ceremony and blessing of the land. One of the things he said was, “Everything comes from Mother Earth.” And my city ears heard that with a bit of skepticism. Yes, all our food etc. comes from the land, but I hadn’t ever thought of building materials, except of course for wood, as coming from the land. And I realized, perhaps for the first time, that concrete comes from sand and water, part of Mother Earth. That even our buildings, concrete, metal, wood etc. are all part of the ongoing story of creation.
Listen to these words from Job 12:
7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
8 ask the plants of the earth,[c] and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
9 Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of every human being.
This weekend, we celebrate Thanksgiving. For most of us our tables are filled to overflowing and we get up from them full, if not overfull. We eat and are clothed and sheltered by the fruits of the earth, but do we stop and say thank you to the earth? Do we slow down enough to remember that ALL life is a gift? And that we are all connected… I am often surprised that the writers of ancient words of scripture knew intuitively what science now tells us, that nothing we do is in isolation. Hosea hints at this in chapter 2:
18 I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.
When you hear words such as “for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.” What does that sound like to you? We could interpret it to mean that the coming judgement of the Lord is to be feared. But what happened more than 2000 years ago? Jesus came, not as a mighty judge, but as a vulnerable baby. And when he grew he did have harsh words to say to those who did not share what they had. But most of all, Jesus shared love… God’s love… and invited the people who gathered around him to live that love and rest in that love.
And so, on this Thanksgiving Sunday, as grieve the brokenness of the world, as we rage at the injustices of the world, as we are weary from masking and sanitizing or all the other things that can weigh us down.
Guided meditation and prayer – Patti Armstrong
I invite you to rest in these words: Guided Reflection: Heart Song Symphony
I invite you to close your eyes.
Centre yourself and take a few deep breathes…
You are at the edge of a forest.
Jesus is there to take you along an awaiting path.
You come to a wide open glade where many have gathered.
There is a large, clear pond in the middle.
There are animals and people, some you know and some you don’t.
You find a place amongst them.
Jesus is with you.
A glow starts to emanate out from his heart.
You look to see it is also coming from yours.
And then you realize it is coming from everything in the glade:
the people, the animals, the trees, the stones, the pool.
This golden light is showering the glade with brightness.
It is warm and peaceful, and you feel a new sense of belonging.
Something different and also familiar.
Jesus takes your hand and leads you toward the pool.
Together you stand at the edge of the water and listen.
There is a song coming from the water.
It is simple and beautiful.
As you listen, you notice that the golden light coming from your heart grows brighter.
You are connected to all that resides in the water.
You are connected to all that soars in the sky.
You realize the holy dependence between all creation.
Jesus turns to you and places his hand gently upon your heart.
He kisses your brow and blesses you.
Together you sit beside one another and feel the awesome presence and oneness of the life that surrounds you and rejoices in you.
Let us pray:
Inside a tree, spirit speaks.
Through bark and seed,
through creatures and breath.
A thousand songs in the forest,
whispering, “Depend on me.”
Inside a river, spirit sings.
Through stone and fish,
through motion and thirst.
A thousand sounds beat in the ocean,
whispering, “Depend on me.”
Inside the round of atmosphere Spirit soars.
Through wings and storm,
through night sky brilliance and passing breeze.
A thousand dreams circle the sky,
whispering, “Depend on me.”
Inside us are seed, breath, thirst, storm, and brilliance.
How can we not nurture that which is simply us in different form?
How can we hear creation above the din of our lives saying, “Depend on me!”
Divine Creator, inseparable from all,
lift forward in us our inherent wisdom bestowed by you.
Through you we can feel our connectedness.
Through you we accept that nothing
is divided from your heart song.
With hearts wide and hopeful
we seek to see ourselves through you.
May our verdant and life-sustaining Earth thrive and may we become the people
we were each born to be.
People of the forest.
People of the rivers and seas.
People of the soil and sky.
People of belonging with the all that is everything.
And all God’s people said, Amen!
Job 12: 7-10
Hosea 2: 18
October 11, 2020 – SMUC