Mini sermon / Premier Christian Radio
Listeners may remember I am an outdoorsy kind of person. I love a good hike up on the South Downs near where we live, or a paddle on the sea or rivers nearby. I don’t know about you, but there is something about being in creation that helps me connect with God more easily.
And the more I reflect on this, the more I feel that as Christians we need to take looking after this planet more seriously. I read verses in the bible that talk of creation beautifully, and the next minute I’m reading report of sewage being pumped into our waterways. Again.
So I am looking at Psalm 104 today. It is a beautiful reflection of creation displaying and glorifying God.
I wont read it all as it’s quite long but perhaps you can take some time in your day later on to read it through in full. This is from the NRSV and I’m reading vs 10-21
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills,
giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst.
By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use
to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.
The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens.
I love that psalm – what an illustration of the world God created, Not just created but nurtures. Provides. Enables creation to flourish and thrive. Giving drink to the animals we read, food for cattle and humans, even: wine to gladden the human heart!
There is a place for each type of creature and, things keep going as God has ordained – the moon marking the seasons out and the sun knowing its time for setting. This is how it should be, with enough food and water for everyone, and every creature. Things working in harmony as they were designed to. And yet we see the results of humanity’s work on the planet all the time.
V16: The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In 2021 Water companies dumped raw sewage into UK rivers and seas nearly 400,000 times for 2.6m hours. The real figure is believed to be much higher though, due to underreporting.
V13 the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
In March 2022 reports revealed micro plastics had been found in Human blood for the first time – in 80% of the people tested. (The Guardian)
this is not the fruit of God’s work, it is ours.
V 10: You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal;
Surfers Against Sewage report that every year 12 million tonnes of plastic end up in our waters – in our seas. I walk on the beach near our home and every time there is new rubbish washed up, I pick up what I can but it is overwhelming. Choking wildlife and the eco system.
I’ve been reading a really interesting book called ‘Adrift’ it is the story of a lost shipping container of Lego that was washed from a ship in a storm, off the coast of Cornwall in 1997, and so Lego began to be washed up on beaches in the SW. Years later Lego is still being washed up and found. It has been tracked and there is even a FB page – it’s become a fun thing to look for Lego on the beach – but it illustrates again how much rubbish ends up in our waters and how lnong it stays there.
The psalmist says (V19):
You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
And yet there are endless reports of temperatures rising across the plant, ice melting, floods occurring. You know last year I crocheted a temp blanket where you set colours for the temperatures and then crochet a row a day accordingly. And it was such an eye opener watching the temperature each day, just one example – 2022 started and ended the year on 12 degrees – in the middle of winter!!
In the very beginning – humanity in the form of the first humans Adam and Eve – were given the commission to care for and steward the earth. And it was good, God said. How are we keeping that commission going/ Not great I’d say.Would God still say: it is good? One to reflect on I think.
But creation reveals the creator, our God, In Ps 19 David writes: 1-2
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day it pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
Romans 1:20 says:
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made
Colossians 1 says of Jesus (v15-16)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him
Our world reveals who God is, reveals Jesus, Colossians says, – and I am sure we have all had those moments of wonder or awe at a beautiful place. Or… Staring at the power of a stormy sea. Waves crashing taking our breath away? Or having trekked up a mountain to see a glorious sunrise and being overcome by the beauty just sitting and watching the colours change. Or something as simple as noticing the beauty of the detail of a garden flower for the first time.
Each of these things displays God and reaches out to us in our hearts.
All creation reveals God, and worships God. it leads us to worship
When I was preparing this I felt like God was saying how is our attitude to worship?
All creation seeks to worship and display God every day in how it is made, and how it grows and seeks to flourish to bring glory to God, and yet what are we doing to creation?
I feel like God is saying in this time:
Our attitude towards creation is a reflection of our attitude towards worship.
I say that again – our attitude towards creation is a reflection of our attitude towards worship.
If we are not caring for creation, are we not caring for the way that we worship?
If we are allowing creation to be stifled and damaged, perhaps we are allowing our own worship to be stifled and damaged? Not able to grow to its full potential.
Creation should lead us in awe and wonder to worship the creator in abandon.
In the Old Testament the people constantly went off on their own, walked away from God and then when things went wrong they had to repent and come back to God knowing they needed the Lord. and yet generations didn’t learn the lesson of the last, and the OT is this back and forth of people going away from God and coming back in repentance.
Are we as a people like that right now? Are we going away from God by not just, not looking after creation but, by damaging it for our own perceived needs, our own choices.
I don’t know if you have ever been to a favourite spot to then find it spoiled in some way? I walked up Pen Y Fan recently in the Brecon Beacons and picked up a bag full of rubbish on the way back down. This amazing mountain with views for miles, just stunning. And yet people just leave their trash behind – to me it feels like throwing our trash at God.
If we can see the reflection of God the creator through God’s creation – how can we treat it so badly?
If creation reveals our God to us, the creator, the Son who was there at the beginning, in whom all things were created, we must care for it better – as an act of worship.
Surfers Against Sewage says that as an island nation with nearly 8000 miles of coastline and over 7,000 miles of inland waterways, industry and government has a moral and legal obligation to ensure the ocean is protected from pollution.
I’d take that further to say we have a spiritual obligation to protect against pollution, and to work against climate change, and to safeguard all of God’s creation.
So I leave with this question, or perhaps a challenge?
Are we are called to protect and heal God’s creation so that as we do so, humanity’s broken relationship with God might begin to be healed too.
If we seek to protect our planet more, might there be a swell of increasing worship like we have never seen. As we approach that vision John had in Revelation – humanity’s voice joining in with that of creation, praising and glorifying God, as the trees of the field clap their hands, as the heavens declare the glory of God with every creature in heaven and earth joining in and praising God for ever. (Rev 5:13)
Isn’t that a glorious picture to hope for? To aim for?
And not just in the future but in the now?