Sunday, 30 May 2010

Resources and dominion

For the Sunday after Pentecost - Trinity Sunday.

Readings: Psalm 8

Let me re read the Psalm for you – from The Message version of the Bible.

1 God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name.

2 Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;

toddlers shout the songs

That drown out enemy talk,

and silence atheist babble.

3-4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,

your handmade sky-jewelry,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,

Why do you bother with us?

Why take a second look our way?

5-8 Yet we've so narrowly missed being gods,

bright with Eden's dawn light.

You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,

repeated to us your Genesis-charge,

Made us lords of sheep and cattle,

even animals out in the wild,

Birds flying and fish swimming,

whales singing in the ocean deeps.

9 God, brilliant Lord,

your name echoes around the world.

Isn’t that wonderful? A Psalm that lends perspective to the lives we lead.

A Psalm that depicts the majesty of God – and the place that we have in creation.

It’s incredible that the God of the universe rates us so highly that we are given dominion over the world.

Huge privilege.

Huge responsibility.

That’s been demonstrated all too forcibly in the oil spill crisis in the gulf recently.

Knowledge and skill allowed us to drill deep.

But, as yet, that knowledge and skill is not making an effective contribution to clearing up the devastation caused by human error.

Devastation that affects not just us but our children as well as all the wildlife and the fragile ecological balance.

Privilege and responsibility.

Privilege and responsibility go hand in hand.

How many post election speeches have you heard these past few weeks in which our elected members acknowledge the privilege – and the responsibility of serving constituents.

And, much closer to home this morning, we have acknowledged, as we always do in baptism, the privilege and responsibility that the grace of God brings us – the privilege of being called God’s children – and the responsibility of living up to that calling.

I was reminded of that privilege and responsibility as I listened to the proceedings of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland last week.

One of the debates centred around our commitment as a national church to continue to provide a territorial ministry throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.

It’s a tenet that is enshrined in the constitution of the Church of Scotland but it is a principle that is becoming harder and harder to maintain particularly in these times of economic recession.

I was delighted that the General Assembly voted to continue to pursue this commitment.

Inevitably, to do so will require sacrifice on the part of some.

It will require effort.

Most of all, it will require people like us to lift our heads and glimpse the big picture.

Do you remember that old hymn – Jesus bids us shine?

Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light

Like a little candle, burning in the night

In this world is darkness, so we must shine

You in your small corner and I in mine.

You in your small corner and I in mine

That’s no longer good enough.

We need a much better awareness of our connectedness.

Of our responsibility to and for one another.

Our actions affect not just us – but our brothers and sisters in the church and in the world.

Do you remember the communion Sunday when we celebrated our connectedness by making a huge paper chain.

We each put in a link – and we added links to represent those gone before us with whom we believe we are still connected through the love of God.

Already there are some who contributed to that paper chain who have gone to be with God and still we celebrate their spirit among us and the service they gave to spread God’s love in this place and in this parish.

Being connected – with God and with each other lends us perspective to the responsibility we have.

As you know, for the past few months, I’ve been working over in Mauchline, a parish without a minister at the moment.

Today, they will vote on sharing their future minister with another parish.

It’s difficult decisions like that that face all of our congregations in order to honour our commitment to minister to all – particularly to those outside the church – the parishes and communities that we serve.

Here in Castehill it is unlikely that we will be faced with such a decision as that which faces Mauchline today – but we are still going to be called upon to share – to share the riches of the resources we enjoy.

Something that perhaps seems like no big deal when we consider it in theory.

But something which, when t comes down to the nitty gritty becomes a huge issue, demanding sacrifice, demanding giving in love.

We are not here merely to serve this congregation, high calling as that is.

We are here to serve this parish.

And, as the demands of an aging building and an aging congregation and a reduction in paid professional leaders continues to bite, it seems that one of the first things we lose sight of is our commitment to serve those who are not members.

That involves leaving the comparative comfort of our building here to make our talents available wherever there is need in our community.

It means contributing our time and our energy to projects often unseen, unrecognised, with no thought of return.

It means being involved in all those activities that won’t add to the numbers filling up the pews on a Sunday but activities that will help us to display the love of Christ in action and to live up to our calling – the calling we all eschew at baptism, to share with all God’s children the knowledge and love of God.

The big picture.

Not you in your small corner and I in mine.

There are few us who would argue with that.

But to actually go and do it.

To allow each other to do it.

Because it DOES demand sacrifice.

That can often be a different story.

Psalm 8 reminds us of the power we have – the power we have individually and as a community of faith.

We have been charged with dominion over the earth and its creatures.

What is dominion?

Dominion is responsibility for well being.

We have the responsibility for the well being of this fragile planet and all its inhabitants.

Isn’t that a scary thought.

That you and I should be charged with such responsibility.

The future well being of the earth – in our hands.

I was moved when I visited J recently to talk about D’s baptism.

J, who already has two wonderful boys, whose vocation, in teaching, brings her into contact with young folk every day, but still can marvel at the wonder and the uniqueness of new life.

As a community of faith here, we are charged with nurturing and protecting all life in this community – the new and the not so new, the perfect and the flawed.

God’s creation, given into our care.

Somehow as we grow older the wonder of life, the wonder of order in our everyday fails to impinge on our consciousness. We take it for granted.

We forget how special it all is.

In this Psalm, that wonder is celebrated.

And the amazing place that we enjoy in creation is marveled at.

We are all special to God.

Not because of who we are.

But because of who God is.

God loves all of creation – and so must we.

Recognising the privilege God bestows on us giving us dominion over creation, we must assume the responsibility that comes with that privilege and commit ourselves to sharing, as we have promised today, with all God’s children the knowledge and love of God.

In taking that task seriously, we will rediscover a wonder and an awe in creation.

We will be inspired to make a difference.

We will be compelled to move beyond these walls and share our resources – share life in all its fullness.

Glimpse the big picture.

To God be the glory. Amen


Mompriest said...

I remember when you made that big chain - loved that idea! Nice sermon!

Purple said...

Poetic and graceful words.