Series: The Tie That Binds
October 21, 2018
Rev. Sandy Johnson
“In October 1948, Donora, Pa., was enveloped in a lethal haze.
Over five days, nearly half of the town’s 14,000 residents experienced severe respiratory or cardiovascular problems. It was difficult to breathe. The death toll rose to nearly 40.
Disturbing photos show Donora’s streets hidden under a thick blanket of gray smog. A warm air pocket had passed high above the town, trapping cooler air below and sealing in pollutants.
Donora was no stranger to pollution. Steel and zinc smelters had long plagued the town with dirty air. But the air pocket left pollutants with no escape route. They sat stewing in the streets, where residents breathed them in lethal doses.
The situation in Donora was extreme, but it reflected a trend. Air pollution had become a harsh consequence of industrial growth across the country and world.”
“All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect. Economic, political, social, and technological developments have increased our human numbers, and lengthened and enriched our lives.
“However, these developments have led to regional defoliation, dramatic extinction of species, massive human suffering, overpopulation, and misuse and overconsumption of natural and nonrenewable resources, particularly by industrialized societies. This continued course of action jeopardizes the natural heritage that God has entrusted to all generations. We are called to recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to place a high priority on changes in economic, political, social, and technological lifestyles to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.”
The bible lesson for today is the familiar story of creation. God’s intimate dance with the universe, which resulted in the foundation of our planet. Sky, earth, oceans, rivers, animals – large and small, birds of the air and fish of the sea. The story is poetic. It grounds me.
Of all the scriptures, these first words of the bible, recorded in the book of Genesis, are most familiar – maybe even more so that the 23rd Psalm. “In the beginning.” “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth.”
Most of us could probably recite the verses. Familiar stories connect us back to when we first heard them. For me that was Sunday school as a young child. The images of God creating everything out of thin air was magical to me. I wanted to to be so, just as Genesis recorded it. Part of me today wants it to be literally as scripture says. It is a beautiful representation of the power of God!
Of course, I’ve grownup since then and have learned that there is more to the story, more than a literal interpretation of creation. But that’s not the focus of our message today. In our series, The Tie that Binds, we consider how we are woven together, all of creation. We are tightly bound and have an enormous impact on one another and the world around us.
We live in a world where symbiotic relationships are vital for the overall health and well being of our planet. When one thing breaks down, the impact can be far reaching. When one in our family hurts, we all hurt. When one city is fraught with pollution, we all suffer. When one of us feels great joy, we share in that joy. We are intimately connected in the Family of God; this community of believers and we demonstrate love toward one another, in support of our global community.
As a society we are tightly woven, so that we can all have a greater quality of life when lived in community. We gain more support and have the opportunity to offer support to others when we are knit together in community. And God asks us to demonstrate kindness and offer grace to those with whom we are woven together with. And in doing so, the unity of our woven society is ensured.
In today’s public discourse we seem to focus more on our differences and the ways we disagree than how much we have in common, how much we love the same. Somehow the current tendency is to demonize those who think differently. When this happens our society unravels, the woven fabric falls apart.
Probably the most closely-knit situation in our world today is climate change. We’ve all heard about it. We may not all agree on the cause or the solutions, but we can agree that something is happening. And something needs to be done about it.
The situation is complicated and involves every living thing on the planet. When the average global temperature rises even a degree or two, the effects are obvious. Weather changes are seen in more devastating storms. We’ve seen some powerful storms in the last few years – Katrina, Irma & Harvey. Just this year we saw Florence and Michael, both category 4 storms as they wreaked havoc on local communities in the storm’s path.
“The Earth is getting warmer because people are adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, mainly by burning fossil fuels. Warmer temperatures are causing other changes around the world, such as melting glaciers which results in these stronger storms. These changes are happening because the Earth’s air, water, and land are all woven together, they make up climate. They are closely entwined and influence one to the other.
“The Earth’s climate has changed before, but this time is different. We are causing these changes, which are bigger and happening faster than any climate changes that modern society has ever seen before.”
When God asked us to tend to his earth, I wonder if he could foresee what we might do to it. As United Methodists we are committed to keeping our society woven together, to doing the difficult things, which may mean stopping a few things. We are committed to conserving and supporting efforts to reduce pollution, global warming, and any other forms of harm that we are doing to God’s creation.
We are woven together, all of us, with all of creation and God desires harmony for all. I want to close with a song and an opportunity for us to weave together, to demonstrate the unity of our love.
This song, Weave reminds us that we are many textures, colors and we are all different. But we are entwined with one another, with God’s love and we form a great tapestry. The song suggests that we are instruments, playing our own melodies, tuned to different keys; but we play together in one great symphony. And most important when we come together as sisters and brothers in Christ, we recognize that unity comes from diversity. We are all one in Christ because we can see Christ in one another and that my dear friends, makes us one great family.
Would the weaver helpers please come up front?