The message this Sunday is a collage of voices and image that I hope conveys one of the renewing meanings of the birth of Christ among us: Through Christ all of Creation can be reconciled with our Creator.
We first hear from a wise children’s book: Old Turtle and the Broken Truth.
Then let us hear “Gentle Arms of Eden”, by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer
“On a sleepy endless ocean when the world lay in a dream There was rhythm in the splash and roll, but not a voice to sing So the moon shone on the breakers and the morning warmed the waves Till a single cell did jump and hum for joy as though to say This is my home, this is my only home This is the only sacred ground that i have ever known And should i stray in the dark night alone Rock me goddess in the gentle arms of eden
Then the day shone bright and rounder til the one turned into two And the two into ten thousand things, and old things into new And on some virgin beach head one lonesome critter crawled And he looked about and shouted out in his most astonished drawl This is my home this is my only home This is the only sacred ground that i have ever known And should i stray in the dark night alone Rock me goddess in the gentle arms of eden
Then all the sky was buzzin and the ground was carpet green And the wary children of the wood went dancin in between And the people sang rejoicing when the field was glad with grain This song of celebration from their cities on the plain This is my home this is my only home This is the only sacred ground that i have ever known And should i stray in the dark night alone Rock me goddess in the gentle arms of eden
Now there’s smoke across the harbor, and there’s factories on the shore And the world is ill with greed and will and enterprise of war But i will lay my burden in the cradle of your grace And the shining beaches of your love and the sea of your embrace This is my home this is my only home This is the only sacred ground that i have ever known And should i stray in the dark night alone Rock me goddess in the gentle arms of eden.”
Readings from the Holy Scriptures:
Isaiah 32: 16-18 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness and righteousness will abide in the fruitful field. The effect of righteousness will be peace – the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful home, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
Luke 1:76-79 Zacharias, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” blessed his child who was to become John the Baptist: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High. for you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways, to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Reflection & Prayer:
According to our faith, Christ is the Word made Flesh. The “Word” means the Wisdom through which the Holy One brings into being all that is – the underlying order, harmony at the heart of God’ creative activity. Reconciliation with God through Christ means revering that Word, placing that original Wisdom at the center of our lives, that Word wins us over in the end, however much we may stray from it. Reconciliation through Christ it means that All of Creation can return to harmony with the mind and heart of the Creator. This Sunday in Advent is peace: as we anticipate the birth of Christ among us, we can reflect on how that means peace. Now, in our culture, we can often forget the ecological meaning of this peace in Christ. All of Creation restored to a sacred balance, returns to harmony with the Word & Wisdom of our Creator. The broken truth is restored: Through Christ we know we are loved. Through Christ we know that “they” are loved as well. That “they are loved too” doesn’t just mean other people. It also means all of God’s Creation is loved. That I hope is what our collage of voices this morning has explored som. Let me add just one more thing: This is a prayer that I’ve adapted from a Prayer Service that calls for a Sabbath for the Earth. According to the laws of Moses, living according to God’s creative wisdom, means setting aside regular times for rest. A Sabbath for us every seventh day … but also, every seventh year, a sabbath for the earth. Every seventh year, we are to allow the land to rest, to lie fallow. This is for the sake of proper balance, for listening to and respecting the earth on which we depend. So, this is from a Prayer Service for Earth Sabbath: A Call to Prayer: “We who have lost our sense and our senses – our touch, our smell, our vision of who we are; we who frantically force and press all things, without rest for body or spirit, hurting our earth and injuring ourselves: we call a halt. We want to rest. We need to rest and allow the earth to rest. We need to reflect and to rediscover the mystery that lives in us, that is the ground of every unique expression of life, the source of the fascination that calls all things to communion. We declare a Sabbath, a space of quiet: for simply being and letting be; for recovering the great, forgotten truths; for learning how to live again.
We have forgotten who we are. We have alienated ourselves from the unfolding of the cosmos We have become estranged from the movements of the earth We have turned our backs on the cycles of life. We have sought only our own security We have exploited simply for our own ends We have distorted our knowledge We have abused our power.
Now the land is barren And the waters are poisoned And the air is polluted Now the forests are dying And the creatures are disappearing And the people are despairing.
We ask forgiveness, O Holy One, We ask for the gift of remembering We ask for the strength to change.
We join with You, O God, with the great forces of your Creation, with the earth, We join with each other
To bring new life to the land To restore the waters; To refresh the air To renew the forests; to protect the creatures To recall our purpose To renew our spirits To reinvigorate our bodies To create community To live for our children, and their children, and their children, and their children…
Thank You for the Grace and Mystery present in your Creation. Thank You for your Word & Wisdom through which all things are made The Word & Wisdom that we know in the flesh through Christ. Thank You for the gift of this life. Thank You for the gift of our restoration. We rejoice in this world. We rejoice in you, O Holy One.
(Delivered December 9, 2018, at First Congregational church of Walla Walla, by Rev. Nathaniel Mahlberg)