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Sermon Wednesday 5 July 2024

 

240605 1 Samuel 3.1-10, Psalm 139.1-5, 14-18 2 Corinthians 4.5–12 Mark 2.23-3.6         

In the name of God, Creator, Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit. Amen      

Today June 5 is World Environment Day.

The story in 1 Samuel 3.1-10 tells us that the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli.  And that the word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. But the young Samuel, a child who was longed for and the gift of answered prayer, was made aware of the presence of God in a vision.

Although God had spoken directly and audibly with Moses and Joshua, his word became rare during the three centuries of rule by the judges of Israel.  By Eli’s time no prophets were speaking God’s messages to Israel.  Why we wonder, but when we look at the attitude of Eli’s sons they may have refused to listen to God, or they allowed greed to get in the way of any communication with God.  Listening and responding is vital in a relationship, and even more so in a relationship with God.  Although God does not always use the sound of a human voice, God always speaks clearly through his Word.  To receive his messages we need to be ready to listen and act upon what we hear and like Samuel be ready to listen and say “Here I am” when God calls us to action. The presence of God is revealed in different ways and throughout generations people have been inspired by the presence of God.          People have been inspired by insights and revelation of the work of the Holy Spirit of Christ. This is no less evident in our own generation when falling attendances at structured religious services may let us think that the word of the Lord is rare in our days.  People are still inspired to work for change and to honour the commands of God.

World Environment Day is celebrated annually on 5 June and encourages awareness and action for the protection of the environment. It is supported by many non-governmental organizations, businesses, government entities, and represents the primary United Nations outreach day supporting the environment.

Recent years have seen the focus on everything from plastic pollution and the illegal wildlife trade to air pollution and food waste. This year's focus is on land restoration, desertification or land degradation and drought resilience and is hosted by Saudi Arabia.

We know that almost 60 per cent of all species live in soil, making land the planet’s most biodiverse habitat.  Healthy soils store massive amounts of carbon which, if released, would cause a huge spike to planetary warming.  Only 0.5 per cent of water on earth is useable and available freshwater.  Climate change is dangerously affecting that supply.

Some 90 per cent of food production depends on soil, which also helps to regulate water flow, filter pollutants and support plant and animal diversity. But drought and land degradation – as well as pollution – are wreaking havoc on this crucial ecosystem.

This year’s World Environment Day campaign’s focusing slogan is “Our land. Our future. We are #GenerationRestoration.”  

When we consider the judgment of the Pharisees concerning the followers of Jesus satisfying their hunger on the Sabbath we find that they were so focused on the words of the rule that they missed its intent.  The law said that crops should not be harvested on the Sabbath (Exodus 34:21) which prevented farmers from becoming greedy and ignoring God on the Sabbath.  It also protected labourers from being overworked.  The Pharisees interpreted the action of Jesus and his disciples, picking the grain and eating it as they walked through the fields, as harvesting, and so they judged Jesus a lawbreaker.  They were so caught up in their own made laws and traditions that they lost light of what was good and right.  God had provided for the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship but this means also that concern for this should not keep us from lifting a finger to help others.

The stories of Jesus and his disciples are collected in the bible to challenge sincere seekers to discover the true meaning of his words.  Much of Jesus’ teaching was against hypocrisy and impure motives – which were the characteristics of the religious leaders at the time.

If Jesus had spoken against the leaders directly, his public ministry would have been hampered because they were always plotting to prevent his ministry becoming too popular.

Those who listened carefully to Jesus knew what he was talking about.  Can we remember to listen carefully and to respond to keep our relationship with God alive and soul nourishing? Can we work for and long to see the day when it is said that  “ the word of the Lord is flourishing and heard in our days?”  Can we also work for the day in which we hear that the environment in which we live is flourishing and being renewed?

What we can learn of all this is that we need to be authentic and honest in the way we live, and in our dealing with others, our neighbours and families and in our dealing with God.    It is the authentic Christian life that others see which will bring credit to our faith, encourage others to care for our environment and help others to want to be believers with us.  We can then be part of the building of a community of faith and hope for a world that runs on fear.  And we can be a community which is inclusive and transformative.

Amen.

 

The Reverend Canon Camellia Flanagan TSSF

Canon Pastor. Christ Church Cathedral Grafton.

 

 

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