Patricia and I had the privilege, last Sunday afternoon, of wandering on the beach at Leelanau State Park Lighthouse, all the way on the northern tip of our peninsula in Lake Michigan. We were delighted by the sun, the shimmer on the water, the magnificent grace of the swans, the history of the lighthouse and its people . . . and we got to experience bubbles & beach stones:
The words we’ll hear read from the Bible On November 22 at Trinity Church UCC are Matthew 6:25-33 – “consider the lilies of the field” (or, consider the bubbles of the waters of Michigan kissing her beach stones).
A favored preacher I know, Rev.Jennifer Brownell, wondered on facebook last night: “I’m thinking about a sermon on ‘consider the lilies’ and ‘do not worry’ and wonder what the heck Jesus would say to the Syrian children.”
What does her wonder stir within you?
And we’ll hear words from the book of Joel 2:21-27. “Worship Ways” from ucc.org for Thanksgiving Day has this to say about the context of the reading:
The natural world is a main character and the primary focus of the book of Joel. Its prophecy is communicated through the behavior of the land, the crops, the weather, and especially the locusts! To this day, no one has found an effective way to stop a swarm of locusts, destructive insects who consume their weight in food daily, and still symbolize famine, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. Like hurricanes and tornadoes, modern technology allows us to track locusts, but not stop them. A swarm of locusts like that described in the book of Joel was indeed a natural disaster that would have threatened the entire community’s food supply. Yet, Joel also offers hope for relief. Today’s lectionary reading describes an abundant harvest of the kind we celebrate at Thanksgiving, stressing that renewal is possible even after the complete devastation a locust swarm or other natural disaster brings. This same hope for restoration is echoed in Psalm 126, as are the natural metaphors in Matthew 6. The harvest is an apt metaphor for renewal and restoration in that it follows the seasonal cycles that renew God’s creation year after year, embedding hope for new growth in each of us as we watch and learn to trust that spring will follow winter. It is also appropriate in that it requires a joint effort by God and humankind. We must plant and tend a garden if we wish it to grow, but Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6 that we must also trust in God’s role in our lives as in creation. This past summer’s drought has meant a less than bountiful harvest for many farmers in our country. Anyone who drove through the Midwest in mid-summer saw miles of dry corn husks and fields already plowed under. In light of such challenges, it is difficult to have hope for improved environmental conditions and a better harvest next year. Nonetheless, hope is what will fuel us to do the necessary work to hold up our end of our collaboration with God. We do not gain by worry, but by tending to our gardens and caring for creation.
Bubble up within, Oh God. Wash over us with Your hope for us, for the refugees, and for the earth. May we, with tenderness and courage, compassion and celebration, tend the garden and care for creation. Oh Yes.
What are you praying in this week of our lives?