This is the ninth installation in a sermon series on the five marks of mission of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The five marks of mission are: to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; to teach, baptize, and nurture new believers; to respond to human need by loving service; to seek to transform unjust structures of society; and finally this evening, the first of two sermons on the fifth mark of mission: to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
There are any number of eloquent theological statements about our Christian responsibility to care for the earth and its creatures. Doubtless, one of the most eloquent and compelling is the recent encyclical letter of His Holiness, Pope Francis, Laudato ‘si. If you haven’t read I highly commend it to you. Not only is it eloquent but it’s also courageous. Pope Francis does not shrink or mince words in pointing out the culpability of capitalist society and its exploitation of the environment resulting in devastating consequences for many powerless and exploited poor people.
The earth, in the words of the Franciscan eco-theologian Leonardo Boff,
“is crying out.” Crying out against its destruction by the creature meant to till the soil and make it fruitful. Crying out against the creature who instead of being the Earth’s guardian angel has become Earth’s Satan.
Some of you might know that ecology and environmental concerns figure very close to the top of my own interest and passions. I could stand here for a considerable amount of time spouting off statistics and relating the narrative about how we all bear responsibility for ecological damage to the earth’s delicate biosphere.
But this afternoon, I am preaching a very brief Tuesday sermon. In fact, it’s almost over.
I’ve just returned from a weekend at Emery House leading a retreat entitled “Eco-Theology 101” and frankly I’m talked out. Rather than talking about striving “to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth” and going to invite you to do a very small thing for our immediate environment.
In his encyclical the pope points out that “some forms of pollution are part of people’s daily experience.” Ever-present trash is part of the consumer throw-up culture we all live and participate in. It mars the beauty of our landscape, it pollutes our water, and endangers people and animals.
Two weeks from this Saturday, that is May 21, I invite you to join me to spend the morning picking up trash along the Charles River. I am imagining focusing on an area between the Anderson and Eliot bridges. If you are able-bodied and want to spend a few hours doing something rather for creation something won’t you join me?
I’ll be on the other side Memorial Drive at 10:00, rain or shine. Please bring gloves, boots, and trash bags. Please join me in doing something for Mother Earth and for the wildlife that makes its home in our front yard.
Let’s stop talking and do something.
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