2nd Sunday after Pentecost

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary
Genesis 12:1-9
Romans 4:13-25
Matthew 9:9-13,18-26
Catholic lectionary:
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
147: 12-15, 19-20
1 Corinthians 10: 16-17
John 6:51-58


We are called to  stubborn hope

Genesis 12: 1-9

How do we know what God wants us to do? The environmental challenges are so overwhelming, so many and our small actions seem so meaningless. What do we learn from the call of Abraham?

God says in verse 1  : Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

Abram is being called to leave familiar surroundings and embark on a journey of faith and obedience.  He does not know his exact destination. With our world in chaos, we are being called to a new journey with God, this will impact on many decisions that we make: where we work, how we holiday, what we eat, how we travel, how we worship. Are you willing to give up all the old ways, traditions “normal ways’ of doing things?

Verse 2 “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”
God’s purpose in our lives is not that we should be great, or successful , but that we should be a blessing to others.  This should be the question that we ask ourselves before each action we take – is my action hurting  my global neighbour or bringing blessing? Am I damaging the earth, or bringing healing?

Verse 4b: “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him.” Despite the uncertainty and challenges ahead, Abram sets out on his journey, demonstrating a remarkable willingness to surrender his own plans and follow God’s leading. God doesn’t want us to wait until we are certain. God doesn’t want us to figure it all out first, to download the maps and chart our course; he wants us to move. “Move where?” we ask. Anywhere. Somewhere. As the Lord has told us. We don’t know everything, but we know some things. We know God asks us to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly

The road is made by walking!

Verse 7 underscores God’s reassurance and reaffirms His covenant with Abram: “Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring, I will give this land.'” – we will not see the renewal of this earth in our generation ,but the seeds that we sow will usher in a new era for the generations to come God is with us!

The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” (Rabindranath Tagore)
Romans 4: 13-25

v. 18 against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations.” 

Not only did Abram set off on a journey without knowing the destination, he was a man of great faith in other ways .God promised him descendants, that he would be the father of many nations  and he didn’t even have a child!  He and his wife Sarah were passed child bearing years. How would that promise come true?

What does this powerful phrase mean?  – “against all hope, he in hope believed”. 

When we look at the situation in our world, as we are now passing tipping points, as the earth heats up , many are led to despair. Yet we are resurrection people, we believe that it is only when you go down into the darkest tomb that life springs forth. We believe that God will save this world, God promises us a renewed Earth.

This is an important part of what we bring to the environmental movement and what can combat eco- anxiety. We are people of stubborn hope.

When someone asked Archbishop Tutu how he could be such an optimist he replied: ‘No, I’m not an optimist. I’m a prisoner of hope’

We too against all hope, in hope believe that we will see the renewal of this Earth.

Matthew 9:18-26 – The Healing of a Woman and the Raising of a Girl
Here Jesus meets two desperate people a ruler who’s daughter has just died and a woman who has suffered from a stigmatizing disease for twelve  years. 

The ruler begs him to touch her believing that he can bring her to life. 

As Jesus goes to the home of the bereaved family – the woman approaches him from behind and touches his cloak. She also believes in the power of touch 

In verse 22, Jesus turns and sees the woman with the disease, saying, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” 

As Jesus continues on His way, the narrative returns to the ruler and his deceased daughter. In verse 23, upon arriving at the ruler’s house, Jesus encounters a commotion with people mourning and wailing. In verse 24, Jesus tells them, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” Jesus uses this figurative language to indicate that her death is not final and that He is about to bring her back to life.

Verse 25 describes how the people respond to Jesus’ statement by laughing at Him. They did not believe that it was possible for a dead person to be raised. Despite the scepticism and disbelief, Jesus proceeds into the room where the girl’s body is lying.

In verse 26, Jesus takes the girl’s hand, and she arises from the dead. Jesus’ touch and His authoritative command restore her to life. The power and authority of Jesus over death are clearly demonstrated in this miraculous act.

Do we believe that Jesus has the power to restore and renew the face of the earth? Can the power of God heal the eco-systems that are degraded and destroyed? Do we have a faith that can move mountains? We know that faith without works is dead. Jesus healed through touch – it is as we take actions that change takes place. 

Can the Earth be renewed? Here are some signs of hope. 

Establishing Marine Reserves
To this day, only 2% of the ocean is included in strongly protected marine reserves. Research estimates that we may need to protect up to 30% of our oceans to properly safeguard its health and future. Marine reserves would preserve all kinds of marine life, from corals to sharks and whales, stopping unregulated fishing, drilling and mining to restore a pristine environment for all species to thrive undisturbed.

We know that once protected fish and marine life stocks can bounce back.

Reducing plastic
An estimated eight million tons of plastic end up in our ocean each year. The majority of plastic debris in the ocean is caused by littering: mainly disposable plastic items (food wrappings, plastic bags, razors, bottles, etc.)

Last year the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) passed a resolution for an Internationally binding resolution on Plastic Pollution. Parties and NGOs are gathering in Paris to work out details of the Treaty – which could have a massive effect on reducing plastic pollution.

Protecting and re-greening
Earth’s ecosystems take longer to heal and the human pressure on them is very extreme – many are so degraded that they cannot be restored. 

As temperatures rise, forests fall prey to drought, fire and insects. When they burn or decay, the carbon they have locked away in their lifetime is released back into the air .

We must protect old forests and plant new ones
Some of the actions we can take as individuals and churches are in terms of changing our diets to a more plant based one, reducing purchases of fashion clothing, and adopting local eco -systems. 

But neither marine life or life on Earth can bounce back on a heating planet and so the biggest challenge we have is to stop climate change as fast as we can. Last year for the first time new investments in solar energy outstripped new investments in fossil fuels. We are turning but not fast enough.

We have a choice, we must take our foot off the accelerator, reduce fossil fuels, stop deforestation and re-green the Earth.

“Here is where the turning point must occur. Will we allow fear to paralyze us or use it to galvanize us into action. Only one path leads to hope, the other leads us into despair. It is only our actions that offer the chance of a better future.  

The giant boulder of climate action isn’t sitting at the bottom of an impossibly steep hill with only a few hands trying to push it up, but rather it is already at the top and rolling down the hill with millions of hands pushing it in the right direction, that gives us hope. It isn’t going fast enough yet; but for each new hand that joins, it will go a little faster.: “Every action matters… Every choice matters.” Dr Katharine Hayhoe

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Revd Dr Rachel Mash

Rev Dr Rachel Mash is the environmental Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. (South Africa, Swaziland- Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique). She works with the Green Anglicans youth Movement which is taking off in Africa. She is also the secretary to the Anglican Communion Environmental Network and sits on the steering group of the Season of Creation group. www.greenanglicans.org | www.seasonofcreation.org | https://acen.anglicancommunion.org/ 

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