Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wisdom: Life, Death, Resurrection

Psalm 104
Season of Creation Flora and Fauna
Chatfield UMC
October 9, 2016
Rev. Debra Jene Collum

Once again we are singing the praise of God’s creation:

God’s creation is made with wisdom
Everything is God’s creation.

And today we are going to find how powerful this song and matra of creation is for us in the 21st century

The beginning of Psalm 104 sings God’s praises, we imagine God’s delight in the diversity and activity of creation. “You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use to bring forth food from the earth … The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly…  In them the birds build their nests.”

We imagine the power of God and the wisdom of God at work in the world through the common, ordinary moments of creation’s growth, death and rebirth.

I have set an ivy plant on the table this morning. A simple ivy plant. It was given to the church by Phyllis Waadevig. Phyllis is one of those plant whisper-ers who always have plants to share. For those of you who grow plants you know that ivy can be a bit tricky.
But this plant who came from Phyllis’ gifted hands has been nurtured by the plant tenders of this church and I have watched as the ivy grows over the days of the year. Set carefully in the right light, given the proper water and fertilizer. Growing! Long tendrils of beautiful, delicate, green leaves.

Our plant tenders know that in order for this ivy to grow and stay healthy in our church those long tendrils need to be pruned. And the beautiful thing I have watched as the tendrils are carefully cut they are carefully wrapped in damp paper and sent home with others who now have ivy plants growing on their window sills.
Life, death, resurrection. Gift, growth, pruning, re gifting.

The wisdom of God’s creative work right here among us. God makes the grass grow, yes but not without the wisdom of Life, death and resurrection.

It is a powerful thing, this wisdom of God that we encounter every time we look out at the fields and ditches and gardens and lawns and house plants of our lives.

In Madeliene L’engles’ book Swiftly Titling Planet she quotes an ancient poem as an incantation against the evil darkness that is threatens the peace of planet earth through nuclear war.
While it sounds preposterously naive to the modern ear. The poem, like Psalm 104 is powerful and are words we need to hear in this 21st century.

We are being frightened by acts of power, intimidations of destruction, violence against our most vulnerable that even the childhood personification of joy and playfulness, clowns, are being used as a threat. And we are all so afraid of life that scary clowns are causing children to decide to cancel Halloween plans and hide under their beds, literally. Literally. That is how frightened we are right now.

We need to hear the words of this incantation in order to stand up to the fear mongering and violence and threats:

Hear these powerful words:
At Tara in this fateful hour,

I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the wind with its swiftness along its path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the Earth with its starkness
All these I place
By God's almighty help and grace

Between myself and the powers of darkness

All these, all of God’s creation, All of God’s creation created in wisdom, All these I place between myself and the powers of darkness.

Nature just isn’t a nice thing. Nature/creation isn’t just a pretty picture. Nature/creation isn’t just a soothing sunset. Nature is that powerfully wise force that God has provided to remind us that Life, Death and Resurrection can stand between us and evil.

The psalmist is wise to the ways of Mother Earth and gives praise to God.
 Oh we need this wisdom revealed NOW.

Because without it we become fractured. Afraid of our own shadows. Convinced that black communities are unsafe hell holes. Sure that people who look differently than us are going to harm us. Panicked that clowns are agents of death instead of joy and laughter.
In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul writes to a very fractured church in Corinth. Not unlike the fractions we are experiencing in our world today.

This group and that group think they hold the key to wisdom. That somehow Their Group has found the truth of what is wise. They say: I belong to Cephas’ group. I belong to Paul’s group. I belong to Apollos’ group. Their identity is wrapped up in a power play that has nothing to do with how they are called to live as interconnected people of God.

None of them have turned toward the wisdom of God to hear the real dance of wisdom. To feel the real pulse of wisdom revealed in the creation of the world.
Where everything is interconnected. They are wrapped up in their version of truth instead of listening to wisdom:
Where death comes out of life. Have you ever seen a dead tree blossoming with moss and lichens and mushrooms?
Where green growth allows for sharing.
And where the wisdom of God’s love revealed in the Life, Death and Resurrection of the Christ draws us from our fears into a life interconnected.

In I Corinthians, Paul encourages the people of Corinth to overcome their splitting into various groups and to see themselves as one in Christ.

Paul writes to the Corinthians and to us:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved. Those who are being saved: who look in foolishness but hope to the dead wood of a cross; who see Life that flows through resurrection.
So we can say in this season of darkness:

Earth with its starkness
Christ and the cross
the cycle of Death and Resurrection
All these I place
By God's almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness

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