“Earth Day Reflections” 04/21/2013

Reading selected by Kathryn Henderson and read by Kathryn Henderson and Brita Gill-Austern

FIRST READING — Genesis 1:1-5
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

“The Cape of Light” From The Genesis Meditations
The Rabbis were discussing the divine light in the first chapter of Genesis. From where did it originate? One said that the light was created first, like a king building a palace. The site is in the shade, so first he sets up lights and then builds. Another said that this was wrong. First the king builds the palace and then crowns it with light. A third said that the light came from God’s words, as in Psalm 119:130: “The opening of your word sheds light.” Rabbi Simeon asked Rabbi Samuel what he thought.

He whispered in his ear, “The Holy One, blessed be the Name, put on a cape of light and that cape spread until it illuminated one end of creation to the other.”

“Why are you telling me this in a whisper?” asked Rabbi Simeon. “It’s no secret. The Psalms say, ‘You cover yourself with light like a cape.'”

“I heard it in a whisper, so I’m telling you in a whisper,” Rabbi Samuel replied.

Response (Sung in unison)
To you, O God, all creatures sing,
and all creation, everything
Sings your praises, alleluia!
Your burning sun with golden beam,
Your silver moon with softer gleam,
Sing your praises, alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

SECOND READING — Genesis 1:20-22
And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

From The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod Henry Beston
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

Sung Response (together)
Your flowing waters, crystal clear,
make melodies for you to hear,
Sing your praises, alleluia!
Your fire. . .bountiful and bright,
remembering your warmth and light,
Sings your praises, alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

THIRD READING — Genesis 1:12 and 18:1-8
The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

From “The Shewings of Julian of Norwich”
Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch,
toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
to spring.
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your true worship.

Sung Response (together)
Dear Mother Earth, who day by day,
Unfolds rich blessings on our way,
Sing your praises, alleluia!
As savory fruit and fragrant flower
Show forth your glory and your power,
Singing praises, Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

FOURTH READING — Isaiah 58:8-12
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

“The Spiritual Power of Matter” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Then, suddenly, a breath of scorching air passed across his forehead, broke through the barrier of his closed eyelids, and penetrated his soul.

…in a flash he discovered, everywhere present around him, the one thing necessary.

Once and for all he understood that, like the atom, man has no value save for that part of himself which passes into the universe. And he felt that henceforth nothing in the world would ever be able to alienate his heart from the greater reality which was now revealing itself to him, nothing at all.

A deep process of renewal had taken place within him. And not a soul in the world could do anything to change this.

‘Never say, “Matter is accursed, matter is evil”: for there has come one who said, “You will drink poisonous draughts and they shall not harm you,” and again, “Life shall spring forth out of death,” and then finally, the words which spell my definitive liberation, “This is my body.”

Turning his eyes resolutely away from what was receding from him, he surrendered himself, in superabounding faith, to the wind which was sweeping the universe onwards.

Sung Response (together)
Your wind that blows the tempest by,
Your clouds that sail across the sky,
Sing your praises, alleluia!
Your morning rises with a song,
and lights of evening sing along,
Sing your praises, alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!