“Calling Forth” 05/12/2019 by Rev. Stacy Swain (Click on title for audio)

SCRIPTURE READINGS – Acts 13:1-3, 2 Corinthians: 16-20


          A few days ago I stopped into my local coffee shop as I often do on my way to work.  The woman behind the counter knows me well.  She greeted me with a familiar smile.  But rather than ordering my usual cup of coffee that morning, I asked instead for a large almond milk latte – I told her I was feeling like ‘living on the edge’.    

            Without skipping a beat, she said to me, “Well — if that is your edge, I guess you are doing pretty well.” 

            Her response made me laugh all the way to church, but it also got me thinking.

            If ordering an almond milk latte instead of a regular cup of coffee takes me to my edge, if that is what stepping out into something new looks like for me, well — I may be doing OK by the world’s standards of what the “good life” looks like, but without a doubt, I am most definitely not living what the good news looks like according to the Gospel’s call.  The Gospel calls not for a change of beverage, but instead a change of life.

            But before we go any further, Let us pray. Holy one, creator and lover of life, meet us here in this place this morning and stir our souls so that we may join you as co-creators in a world of becoming.  And may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts, be acceptable to you, O God, our rock and redeemer.  Amen. 

            Last week, for our Earth Day service, the children led us through that great poem of creation that is the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. As they led us through the days of creation, what was a blank canvass here in the chancel became, before our very eyes, a beautifully textured, vibrant tableau of Creation.  With the creative joy of Cindy Spertner and others helping them, the children brought something beautiful and good into being – right here in our very midst. We were all blessed by their ministry to us.

         It was good to remember that the world is not ours. The world is God’s and by God’s grace, God has entrusted creation to us to care for and to treasure.  I was particularly struck by how the liturgy the kids used, spoke about God creating human beings and then making them (making us) ‘trustees of Gods estate’ — given the job to care for God’s creation. This core teaching from our faith is absolutely vital if we as a species are going to survive on this planet.  The earth is not ours to exploit, but is instead, ours to cherish and protect. 

        This is something we as people of faith are called to proclaim and act upon.  As such, I was glad to see our brothers and sisters doing so this week as the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care gathered for its 20th annual prayer breakfast in Washington, DC.  The NRCCC is a group composed of members of major faith groups in America, including Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, and Orthodox Christians, and Jews who are calling all people of faith to take up the charge that Genesis 1 commands.  They gathered to announce the release of the Religious Declaration of Unprecedented Climate Emergency.

       The declaration proclaimed (and I quote):  The climate change problem we face today is unlike any previous challenge confronted by society because it is largely irreversible. The shocking truth is that decisions we make now could, “haunt humanity until the end of time.”  Human-induced climate change is underway now, and its impacts are greater and more extensive than scientific models predicted. We will significantly alter the future of civilization as we know it and may eventually cause its collapse if we continue down this path.”

      The Declaration goes on to say:  “Decades of delay on climate action have made small corrective measures and incremental approaches useless. Those who are invested in maintaining the status quo, or who put forth proposals that are clearly incompatible with what climate science demands, are condemning innocent young people – including their own children and generations to come – to a future of unimaginable suffering: the mass death of human populations and the extinction of species.”


      This declaration and the most recent UN report bring me to tears, but they also move, challenge and inspire me in this Eastertide season to set down any individualistic and piety driven notions of salvation as a reward at the end of life, and to fully take up a corporate and incarnational understanding of salvation that is ours to partner with God in creating now. 

       If religion is to have any relevance to our young people today (and hopefully for the young people of tomorrow), if we are going to have the wisdom, courage and power to be trustees of God’s creation and care for it, then I need to do more than having living on the edge be no more than ordering a proverbial almond milk latte.  I must take up the Gospel challenge of changing my life.   


       It is one thing, however, to be called forth and have this realization.  It is another thing to actually find a way to do something about it.

       All of what we know to do is important that we do —  do, to be sure!  We do need to reduce, reuse and recycle. And we do need to learn about and investigate new initiatives that are being proposed from Carbon Tax to the Green New Deal.

      All of this and much more are important changes for us to make.  Each of us in the midst of our lives can do something. But I believe there is more. 


        For me, the more is what our faith offers.  This more that our faith offers is key not only to living into the change that the Gospel calls forth in our own lives but also for the life of our precious world.  

         This more is what our kids lived out last Sunday, what our scriptures passages for today speak.  

       This more, is – to borrow language from theologian Carter Heyward, is to be “co-creators” in what is to be.  We are not just called to be trustees of creation, we are called to be co-creators of it.

       Let me explain.  This week I heard a new take on that original Creation Story from Genesis 1 that I found riveting.  It comes from Rabbi Nahum who recently published a text called “The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets”.  In this interview Rabbi Nahum purports that in the creation account, God did not just call forth a blue print for creation that was hidden and that was waiting to be revealed.  Instead God called into the void, into the unknown — an invitation to become.  God called forth fishes of the sea, but God had no set plan for what fishes of the sea were to look like. It was not that matter performed according to God’s plan, but that matter took up God’s invitation, participated in the creation process and brought forth the potential that was seeded within it. 

           For this reason, God delighted!  And blessed, not because of some “Ikea-like dresser assembly blue print was followed step by step, but God delighted and blessed because God had a partner in matter – a partner to innovate and share in the creative process of co-creation. What became, what is, is the fruit of the partnership between the divine invitation and the creative reciprocated expression of matter. 

       This makes sense to me for is that not also what happened in the very person of Jesus?  Did not spirit and flesh, heaven and earth become fully expressed in the one who was fully human and fully divine?  Creation is, as Jesus is also, the full expression of what it looks like when fully spirit and fully matter dwell together as one. Jesus’ life is the expression of what co-creation looks like. It is salvation in real time.  It is what we too are to be. 

      That is what as the Apostle Paul in our scripture today says, what living “in Christ” looks like.  Living “in Christ” is to live open to the call of the Holy Spirit to partner with God.                     

            When the children and youth led us in worship last week, they did not just tell the story, they participated in it and in doing so created a new expression of it through which we were blessed.  When we join with God, we do so trusting that something new is possible, something before unimagined can break forth, that a Way will arise in what before only looked to be dead ends. 

         In this Eastertide season, this time when the disciples that followed Jesus are learning how they now are to live, we too are to learn what it is partner with Spirit.   We too are to move to the edge of our comfort zone to reach out and partner with God so that we can indeed find a way to save this blessed creation of ours.

          So what if, we were to place ourselves like Mary at the edge of the tomb. What if we were to have the courage to show up in the grief of the death that climate change speaks?  To stand in the countless places that we face every day in our lives of unknowing and to do so not feeling defensive of our deficit, but instead to be in humble acknowledgement of it.    What if we were to show up and listen and learn so that we may be present to how the spirit may showing up and calling us forth to bold action and changed lives.  Calling us forth as partners in the divine work of becoming.  We cannot reverse climate change by ourselves. We need each and every one to do our part but we also need to be a part of what God is doing.

            In this Eastertide, this is our hope, prayer, power and promise.  Let us join with each other and with God to be co-creators in a healed and redeemed creation that will bring forth life for generations to come.

       May it be so.