Reflection for Sunday – September 3, 2023
Readings: Jeremiah 20:7-9; Romans 12: 1-2; Matthew 16: 21-27
Preacher: Ruth Marchetti
The life of a prophet is racked with hardship. The Old Testament stories show us that God sends prophets when God’s people have lost their way; they’ve forgotten the God of love and justice. Getting lost is a subtle process. It sneaks up on us in the guise of convenience and pleasure. Getting back on track seems painful and hard. The prophet’s voice is not welcome; neither is the prophet.
Harriet Tubman, “Moses” to those she saved, was seized by her deep faith in God and commitment to justice to become a guide to freedom for enslaved people. She knew the cruel fate that awaited any captured, escaped slave, but after finding her own way to freedom, returned repeatedly to rescue her family, friends and others and lead them north to safety.
Today’s readings seem to have been written for Harriet Tubman. She had absolute trust in God and called on God as her protector and guide. Unlike the prophet Jeremiah, she idn’t complain about the hardship that came with her calling. Where our human eyes might question the continuous risking of her life, she was so deeply focused on God’s vision of justice that she was driven to return and do all she could to end unjust systems. She found joy in her work.
We may not be called to be a Harriet Tubman or a Martin Luther King, putting our lives on the line for God’s justice, but we are all called to be prophets. In a world filled with injustice, there is no issue that poses a greater threat to life on earth than the warming of the planet from human-caused emissions.
As is true with any injustice, the poorest among us will inevitably suffer the most. We must all take action now to reverse course, engaging in advocacy, driving less, eating lower on the food chain, and making our living, working and worshipping spaces more sustainable. But the single most important thing we can do is talk about it. In other words, have the courage to be a prophet and engage other people in conversations about climate change. Most people know that global warming is real, that it’s already harming our planet and causing suffering, but they feel helpless. Having conversations reinforces the urgency of responding and helps others find the community necessary to respond.
The ecumenical Season of Creation (https://seasonofcreation.org/ ) begins on September 1, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and ends on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. Throughout the month-long celebration, Christians are encouraged to come together in an ecumenical celebration of prayer and action for our common home around this year’s theme, “Let Justice and Peace Flow”. Why not make a commitment to use this one short month to talk, listen and learn about environmental threats and solutions? Spend time reflecting on the beauty of the natural world and mourning what we’ve lost. Pray for the courage to see through God’s eyes.
Season of Creation Prayer:
Creator of All, we lament the loss of our fellow species and their habitats, we grieve the loss of human cultures, along with the lives and livelihoods that have been displaced or perished, and we ache at the sight of an economy of death, war and violence that we have inflicted on ourselves and on the Earth.
Bless us once again with your life-giving waters so that the Creator Spirit may let justice and peace flow in our hearts and overflow into all creation. Open our hearts to receive the living waters of God’s justice and peace, and to share it with our suffering brothers and sisters, all creatures around us, and all creation. Bless us to walk together with all people of good will so that the many streams of the living waters of God’s justice and peace may become a mighty river all over the Earth.
Praise be to you!