Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Advebt 3: What is Joy? (John the Baptist, Prophet of Joy)

 Sermon preached on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, 2023, at Church of the Redeemer, Addison:  Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; John 1:6-8, 19-28

          Today we light the candle of joy.  Long before there was anything like an Advent wreathe with its one pink candle, “joy” was what characterized this Sunday.  It began with the appointed introit for the Latin Mass, so the first word heard on this Sunday for centuries was Gaudate.

 Gaudate in Domino semper: iterum dico gaudate.

 Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.

                  The words are from the Letter to the Philippians, but the opening of the First Thessalonians’ reading this morning is much the same.

           So, this Advent we have asked: “What is hope?” and “What is peace?” And today we ask, “What is joy?”

           When I spoke of “hope” and “peace,” I said we have to go deeper to get at their true meaning for the Christian.  Hope is not simply optimism. Peace is not simply the absence of conflict.

           So joy is not simply happiness. It is something deeper.

           To get at this deeper sense of joy, I turn to Orthodox Theologian Alexander Schmemann, who wrote

 From its very beginning Christianity has been the proclamation of joy, of the only possible joy on earth. . . . Without the proclamation of this joy Christianity is incomprehensible. . . . Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Neitzche when he said that Christians had no joy.

            Christians proclaim, “The only possible joy on earth.”  But what is this joy we proclaim. What is this joy that we are enabled to live?

            I think the answer is in John the Baptist.  Now, no one ever accused John of preaching joy, at least not joy as happiness.  John’s message was a tough one; Repent. End your delusions about yourself. Get right with God.

            But ending our delusions about ourselves may just be the key to the experience of Joy.  We can see this in John’s own understanding of himself.

            John was very clear about who he was not.  And to do that he had to say “no” to other people’s expectations.  No, I am not the Messiah. No, I am not the return of the great prophet Elijah. No, I am not the unnamed prophet who it was believed would inaugurate a new messianic age.

            No, John says, I am not anything you expect me to be.

            I have found my purpose, John says, in words from the prophet Isaiah:  The voice of one crying in the wilderness to make straight the way of the Lord.

        I have found my purpose, John says, in words from the prophet Isaiah:  The voice of one crying in the wilderness to make straight the way of the Lord.

           There’s a lot going on in the Greek word translated “straight.”  It has the sense of removing all the obstacles, and John knew this meant not only removing the physical obstacles. It meant removing all the internal ones.  Hence the need for repentance.

            Repentance is the translation of another Greek word that has a lot going on.  Metanoia is the word, and its simplest meaning is “a turning,” or “changing direction.”

            John knew in his own life that his internal sense of direction was critical.  He spent a lot of time telling people to get clear about who they were and where they were headed, because he himself had spent a great deal of time getting clear about who he was and in what direction he was heading.

            So I’ll submit to you the improbable statement:  John the Baptism was and is the prophet of joy.  So here is what John has to teach us about joy.

            Joy comes from a clear sense of self. Joy comes from removing all the obstacles—most of them internal.  Joy comes from knowing who you are and where you are headed.  And by “where you are headed,” I mean “to whom you are headed.”

            Just like in our grasp of what hope means, and what peace means, what joy means is first of all grounded in reality.  I can’t know true joy until I know who I truly am, not divorced from reality, but in the muddy middle of it.

            The Isaiah reading helps us understand this a little better. Isaiah says,

 God has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners . . . to comfort all who mourn . . . to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness, instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

            There a great deal of good news in there.  But the good news starts with reality. You cannot, for instance, experience the healing of one’s broken heart if you have not been honest about being broken-hearted in the first place.

            A firm grasp of reality is what is needed to be hopeful, to find the way to peace, or to experience true joy.  The only way to hope, peace, and joy is through reality.

            Which means that joy, like hope and peace, is something to struggle for, and it looks far more like a journey than a destination.

            So back to Schmemann’s rather outlandish claim that Christians proclaim the only joy that is possible on earth. Is that just another exclusivist claim, that if you are not a Christian you cannot experience joy?

            No, I don’t think so.  Schmemann is saying that the joy we proclaim, the way we find joy, is the way Jesus found life.  The only way to life for Jesus was death. He had to go through death in order to find true life.  So the joy we proclaim can only be found when we are willing to go through everything and anything that seems the opposite of joy:  anxiety, doubt, depression, grief, sorrow, the lack of a sense of purpose.

            The Christian proclamation is the only way out is through.

            We can do things that make us happy. We can earn enough money to live well. We can be loved by someone. We can feel we have some control, even power, over our circumstances.  But all those things are ephemeral, they all can so easily change.

            But true joy never changes, because it rests not in what I am able to accomplish, but who I am in the eyes of the One who made me.  It is that sense of the simple but deep confidence of who I am in the midst of the muddle of life, that gives me the chance to, as Paul invites us to do this morning,  rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.

            “Why?” Paul asks. Not because of anything we have done, not because of any success we have made of ourselves, but because that is what God wants for us, that is what is God’s gift to us.  Joy that is dependent on nothing but the love of God.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Advent 2: What is Peace?

 Sermon preached at the Church of the Redeemer, Addison, NY on the Second Sunday of Advent, 2923:  Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 85, 2 Peter 3:8-15a, Mark 1:1-8

          Today we light the candle of peace, and ask ourselves: What is peace? When Christians talk about peace, what do they mean? Perhaps more to the point, When Christians experience peace, what are they experiencing?

           Each of the readings today give us a different aspect of what we mean. Let’s begin with John.

           The message from John the Baptist seems to have nothing to do with peace.  Yet when John was born, his father Zechariah sang the song that ends with these words:

 You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare he way, to give God’s people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:76-79)

           Zechariah understood that what his son would be called to do would be to guide God’s people into the way of peace. John came to understand that the way of peace was also the way of repentance and the experience of God’s forgiveness.

           John knew it was impossible to experience peace if you are at odds with either another human being or God. And we all know that’s true, because we’ve all experienced it.

           There might be a certain satisfaction in not forgiving someone, a certain sense of well-being that comes with knowing you were right and someone else was wrong, especially if you were the one that was wronged.  I know, I have felt it.

           But I also know from experience that particular sense of well-being does not last. It cannot last.  It is nowhere near the experience of true peace.

           So the way of peace is the way of repentance and forgiveness, the way of a favorite word of The Book of Common Prayer, reconciliation.

           Skip to the psalm, with that well-known verse:

 Mercy and truth have met together;

Righteousness and peace have kissed each


           The verse uses four of the Old Testaments’s most frequently used words to describe the dream of God for the creation:

·      esed, mercy or steadfast love.

·      emet, truth or faithfulness.

·      ṣedeqah, righteousness or justice

·      shalom, peace or well-being.

          Mercy rings the same hint of forgiveness and reconciliation that we got from looking at the John the Baptist passage. It is also interesting that it is paired with truth.  We live in a world where truth is under contention.  If truth is being spoken about there is sure to be no peace.

But truth spoken—even debated—with mercy, now that’s a different story.  We can contend about the truth if we have mercy in our hearts when we do so.

But then peace is paired with righteousness or justice.  And I would contend that the way of peace cannot be attained without justice.  “No justice, no peace,” is a popular mantra of protesting crowds, and it is a biblical sentiment.

So the way of peace is also the way of justice.  It brings up the truth that the Hebrew word shalom is much broader—actually much deeper—than the English word “peace.” Shalom is more than the absence of conflict. It is well-being in every aspect.

The word “peace” or “shalom” does not appear in the Isaiah reading, but the reading as a whole is a vision of shalom, deep and broad well-being.

“Comfort” is the stand-in word for peace here, and as the passage moves on from those opening words there is a very clear understanding that humility is necessary for us human beings.  “All people are grass, their constancy like the flower of the field.”  I don’t know about you, but the metaphor describes me to a “t.”

We can’t hear God’s “good tidings,” or “good news” if we don’t get over ourselves, get out of our own way, have patience with ourselves, each other, and God.

And it’s that insight that the author of the second letter of Peter has discovered.  This is one of the latest writings in the New Testament. By the time it is written it is clear that Jesus is not coming back soon

So the writer cautions us that God’s time and our time are simply not the same thing, and the biggest consequence of that fact is that patience is a virtue. Patience with God. Patience with one another. Patience with ourselves.

We wait for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness (or justice!) is at home.  Until then be at peace, or at least try. I like the word “strive” there because it carries a sense that being at peace is not something that comes easy to anyone.  It is a struggle.

But what can lessen the struggle is to know that God has infinite patience with us. If it were not so, we would all be doomed. I love the phrase, “regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.”

All of this can be distilled in this way:

Peace is not so much a state of mind as a journey.  A journey that requires patience. A journey that requires, frequently, repentance and forgiveness. A journey that always requires humility and mercy, even in—especially in—the search for truth. And ultimately the kind of peace the Bible promotes—shalom—requires justice, for without it there can be no true, lasting, deep well-being.

Some of you may remember Bishop McKelvey when he delivered the bread of the Eucharist to you, he would say, “The Body of Christ, food for the journey.”  Writing this sermon brought that to mind, and I think I understand a little better what he meant by that.

Food for the journey on the way of peace.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Advent 1: What is Hope?

 Sermon preached on the First Sunday of Advent at the Church of the Redeemer, Addison, NY:  Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80, Mark 13:24-37

          When we think of Advent, we think of the candles of Advent, marking the four Sundays before Christmas Day.

           The origin of the Advent candles is murky. It’s not ancient, probably no earlier than the 16th century, and really not popularized until a hundred or so years ago.

           Part of the popularization of the Advent wreathe was giving names to the four candles.  Hope, Peace, Joy, Love.  This made many Protestants feel better about the practice, making it seem less Pagan or Papist.

           It’s lost in the mist of Episcopal Church history that burning candles—any candles—in church was very controversial.  When the rector of old St. Luke’s Church in Rochester put candles on the altar for the first time it resulted in a split in the congregation resulting in the founding of what was once Trinity Church in Rochester. The rector of St. Luke’s was accused of being a papist because of those candles that we now take for granted.

           That’s a bit of trivia, but it gets us to the possible helpfulness of the naming of the candles. We have an opportunity to get down to basics.

           So let’s start with hope. What is hope for the Christian?

           First let’s quickly be clear about what hope is not.  It is not two things.  First, it is not fortune telling; it is not prophecy in terms of telling the future. Jesus warns against this—about that day or hour no one knows . . . not even me.

           Second, hope is not optimism, which one writer calls a “cheap, over-the-counter drug for maintaining denial.”  Hope is not “always look on the bright side of life.”

           So what is hope?

           Hope is first of all grounded in reality. This means that hope always begins with a fearless grasp of the truth, even when the truth reveals the ugliness of life.

           Hope isn’t afraid to ask hard questions. In this morning’s psalm the writer asks,

 O Lord, how long will you be angered despite the prayers of your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have given them bowls of tears to drink. You have made us the derision of our neighbors, and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

           Hope is not only unafraid of the truth of what is really going on. It is also unafraid to lay this state of affairs on God, to question God, to shake a fist at heaven.

           And a step further:  Hope is not only unafraid to confront God with the reality of human existence, but to remind God of God’s promises and to insist on action.

           So we began Advent with one of the great cries from Isaiah:

 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.

 Isaiah dares to ask God why he is absent. He speculates that it may be that God cannot stand the mess we have made, and we, the prophet says, have indeed made a mess.  But he ends with the simple plea:

 Now consider, we are all your people.

 Or, as another translation puts it:

 Look, please, we are all your people.

           Now there’s a paradox here.  At the same time we are ruthlessly honest about ourselves and our world and the hiddenness of God, we also hold on to God’s promises to be with us, God’s promise that we are his people and he will never let us go.

           And so, the refrain of Psalm 80:

 Restore us, O God of hosts, show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

           So hope gives us language to make sense of our lives:  We are in a mess, we are a mess.  That mess is real, but so are God’s promises.  We are not forever the mess that we are. God has promised more than that, and shown us the possibility that our lives will be more than that in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

           Hope is courage, really.  Courage to live in the messy present and to face the uncertain future, claiming that neither the messiness nor the uncertainty is what defines my life.

           Having that courage is precisely what Jesus means when he says, “Keep awake.” You don’t know when God is going to clear everything up, and it will try your patience that he seems so often not to be paying attention.

           But there is a time.  Not your time, but God’s time. Just don’t fall asleep. Just don’t give up. Keep awake. That is what hope is.

Monday, October 23, 2023

You're In Before You're Out

 Sermon preached at Church of the Redeemer, Addison on the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, October 22, 2023:  Matthew 22:15-22

The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said.

           The religious authorities had made their decision:  Jesus must go. It had been one thing when he had been roaming around the countryside, but now he had come to Jerusalem, and the crowds had received him as a liberator, in what we call Palm Sunday. And once in the city, Jesus went straight to the Temple and drove out the moneychangers.

           So, angry, they had challenged him in the Temple the morning after his arrival.  “By what authority are you doing these things?  Who gave you this authority?”

           Instead of simply answering the question, Jesus told a series of stories, each one in its own way a not-so-subtle condemnation of them.  We’ve heard these stories over the last few weeks.

           The first was about the two sons whose father asks them to work in the vineyard.  One says “yes” but doesn't go.  The other says “no” but changes his mind.  Jesus says, “The tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.  They were willing to change their minds and believe and you were not.”

           The second:  The landowner who leased his vineyard to tenants, but when it came time to collect his share of the produce, the tenants kill his messengers and even his son.  “Therefore I tell you,” Jesus says, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produce the fruits of the kingdom.”

           And third, the king who threw a great party but those invited refused to come.  So he invites everyone on the streets, the good and the bad, to enjoy the party.  Those who said no find themselves in outer darkness.  “For many are called, but few are chosen,” says Jesus.

           “Then,” Matthew tells us, “the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said.”

           No small wonder after what they had just heard.  They had just heard their condemnation.  It was clear that Jesus was against them. But also, how sad.  Sad because of what they hadn’t heard.  Their hearts were so hard that their ears could only hear the condemnation.  But they could have heard more.

           In each of those stories the condemnation had come only after the invitation.  And, furthermore, the condemnation had been the result of a clear choice against the invitation.

           You have been invited to work in the vineyard, to share the produce, and to come to the party.  You said “no.”  But even when you said “no” you still had the opportunity to say "yes.”

           In each case in those three stories, it was made crystal clear that they were being included, they were invited to join in, to be a part of God’s vineyard and the party to end all parties.  And the invitation was stubborn.  It did not want to take “no” for an answer.

           Their exclusion had only come after their inclusion.  Their condemnation came only after their invitation.  But they had not even heard the invitation.  And in the end, their exclusion was their own choice.

           Why was this?

           Because they had the formula backwards.  The formula they adhered to was “exclusion before inclusion:  You're out before you're in.”

           And Jesus kept saying, over and over again:  “No, you’re in before you’re out.  Inclusion before exclusion.”

           Jesus:  God’s love and acceptance come first.  Anything we do to respond to that love is simply by way of saying thank you.

           The Pharisees:  God’s love and acceptance come second.  You must first follow the letter of the law in order to be acceptable to God.

           Jesus:  You poor fools!  No one can follow the letter of the law.  If the law is the standard, everybody’s out, eternally out.  Besides, you hypocrites, you don't understand the law anyway.  You spend so much time haggling over the small details, you have forgotten the very reason the law exists:  to teach us to love God and our neighbor because God loved us first.  I know, I was there when it happened.

           But the Pharisees and the religious authorities could not hear, because to hear would have turned their whole world upside down.  They could not think the way Jesus was thinking.  It seemed all backwards.  And because they could not think backwards, they could only imagine that what Jesus was saying is that they were out and he and the tax collectors and the prostitutes were in.  And that they knew was preposterous.  Who had obeyed the law all these years?  Who had worked harder than they to keep society in order, to please God?  Who had held up God’s standards of behavior?

           I believe the Pharisees not only rejected Jesus, but the God whom Jesus was representing.  And in a way their seeking to trap him and kill him, that was, of course, successful, was a plot to trap and kill Jesus’ God.  God does not work like that.  This God we do not want.  We can’t have prostitutes and tax collectors walking around thinking that they're loved by God.  We can’t have a God who invites the good and the bad to parties.  There will be chaos.  Our whole way of life is threatened by this kind of God.

           And so the traps begin to be set.  The first attempt is the Gospel reading for today.  The plan is to make Jesus take sides concerning the Roman occupation of Palestine.

           “Tell us what you think.  Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

           A very clever trap indeed.  If Jesus says “yes” he will alienate himself from many of the Jews.  The crowds may turn against him.  If he says “no” he will get himself into trouble with the Romans.  That would be the best thing of all.  They have the power to put a man to death.

           One problem:  Jesus doesn’t answer yes or no questions.

           He asks for a coin.  (I find it interesting that he didn't have one himself.)  “Whose image is this, and whose title?”  It is obviously the emperor’s, Tiberius’s.

           “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s.”

           Ah!  He has taken sides!  He says we must pay the tax!

           But wait, here comes the curve ball.

           “And give to God the things that are God’s.”

           The story says that the Pharisees were amazed and went away.  The trap had failed.

           But why had it failed?  It seems as if Jesus is saying something like you pay your taxes to the state and your tithe to God.  And we hear that too because of the neat separation of church and state that we are used to in this country.  Jesus seems to be saying that we are right in that separation.

           But this time we aren’t listening and the Pharisees were, and that is why they went home disappointed.

           “Give the things that are God's to God,” Jesus said.  The question is, “What belongs to God”?  The answer is, “Everything”.  The question is, “On what is stamped the image of God?”  The answer is, “Every human being.”

           So Jesus didn’t answer the question at all.  He left them and us with another one.  What has priority for us?  What comes first?

           The Pharisees’ trap is based on their way of thinking:  exclusion before inclusion.  We have to prove that he’s wrong about something.  Because if we prove that he is wrong than we can prove that he is an outsider, who must be excluded under the law.  We must define him as an outsider.  It’s an old political trick.

           But Jesus doesn’t think that way.  The coin is stamped with the emperor’s head, the image of Caesar.  What Jesus’ answer says is that he will not be defined by this image.  The only image that will define him is God’s.  And that image is not something he can get or not get by giving the right answer.  It already is.  You cannot define whether I am in or I am out, he is saying.  God has already said I am in.  I bear God’s image, not Caesar’s or yours or anyone else’s.

           The Church over the centuries and still today has continued to be tempted by the way of thinking of the Pharisees.  You are out before you are in.  We have, unfortunately, given into it more often than not.  And in doing so, we reject the very one we claim to follow.

           The biblical story is that God did not say in the beginning that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  God said, “Let there be light.”  God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.”

           Original image.  Original blessing.  We were in before we were out.  And it’s still true.  We can say “yes” or “no” to God.  But God has already said “yes” to us and has kept on saying it, and in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has erased no from his vocabulary.  Jesus is God's eternal “yes” to us.

           The only “no” we can receive is our own.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

 I'm pleased to announce the publication of my book:

Published by Church Publishing and available through them or on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and

Foreword by The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.

Complete with Study Guide suitable for groups.

Church Publishing says

Christ himself lived in a time of immense social and political turmoil, as did his early followers. But can those early struggles provide guidance for God’s faithful in today's divided world? Episcopal priest and peace advocate Michael W. Hopkins proves that they can, tracing the origins of Christian responsibility all the way back to the indissoluble bond of baptism, drawing a clear line between those fraught early days and the turbulent present that Jesus commands Christians to engage in.

Called to Act peels back the historical and scriptural underpinnings of Christianity to exhume the social obligations inherited by all members of the kingdom of God. Through interpretation of Jesus’ words, works, and sacraments, modern day Christians can begin to reframe their fundamental outlook on and participation in the world, working as one to build communities of mutual care. Rather than allow differences of opinion or misguided attempts at neutrality to divorce Christians from the necessary work of political and community engagement, Hopkins provides compelling scriptural evidence for a new kingdom, united not by what has been left undone, but by what Christians are called to do for each other. 

Join the conversation on Facebook.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

With all Creation

 Sermon peached on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost (observing Creation Season) at Church of the Redeemer, Addison:  Exodus 12:1-14.

          We continue this morning in our second of five weeks celebrating God’s creation and our responsibility as part of that creation.

           The readings began in the Book of Exodus with the institution story for the Jewish Passover.  We read this same story on Maundy Thursday, the day we celebrate Jesus’ gift to us of the Eucharist.

           In regard to God’s creation, the Passover story reminds us that God frequently uses the creation as a means of communicating with us.  This is, of course, true for us in the Eucharist, where common things of the earth—bread made from wheat and wine made from grapes—become the means by which Jesus shares the offering of his own body and blood for our redemption.

           But there is more of the creation in the Eucharist than the simple use of elements of it as symbols.  The creation is not just a subject in our celebration. The creation is an active participant.

           We are using Eucharistic Prayer D for the remaining four weeks of our celebration of creation.  One of the reasons I chose it is because the place of the creation in our celebration could not be clearer.

           Leading up to the Sanctus—the “Holy, holy, holy,” we pray:

 Fountain of life and source of all goodness, you made all things and fill them with your blessing; you created them to rejoice in the splendor of your radiance.

           What do these words teach us? They teach us not only that God made everything.  That assertion is important. The creation is God’s doing.  That answers the question of how? How is the creation made? God.

           But the prayer goes on to answer another question:  Why? Why does God create?  “You created them to rejoice in the splendor of your radiance.”

           The purpose of creation—every bit of it—is to praise God.  That does not mean that the purpose of all creation is to advance God’s ego needs.  No, to worship God is to be in relationship with God.  Worship is the exchange of love.  And the prayer teaches us that this exchange of love with the Creator is what all creation is made for.

           The prayer goes on:

 Countless throngs of angels stand before you to serve you night and day; and, beholding the glory of your presence, they offer you unceasing praise. Joining with them, and giving voice to every creature under heaven, we acclaim you, and glorify your Name, as we sing, “Holy, holy, holy …”

           Our job is not only to sing the praise of God for ourselves, but to give voice to every creature under heaven.  When we sing the “Holy, holy, holy,” we do not sing alone. We sing with all that God has made.

           And here let us be careful to note that we do not sing for all creation because it is too dumb to do so. No, creation, lives in praise of God all on its own, without our aid.  The part we play is to give that already praising creation the additional power of human language.

           Sing “Holy, holy, holy” and imagine as you are doing so, joining with “all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small” but also every blade of grass, and especially at this time of year imagine every luscious tomato and ear of corn.

           I am reminded of the reading from Pope Francis we had last week:  “Nature,” he said, “cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it.”

           To forget this union we are in with creation, which we celebrate when we sing, “Holy, holy, holy,” is a very dangerous thing. Brother Keith Nelson of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal monastic order, put this danger quite starkly as we just heard:

 When we violate, abuse, exploit, or even simply ignore non-human creatures, we are rejecting a core dimension of our humanity and of God’s calling for us. We are crucifying the earth. We are interrupting, speaking over, or bickering with God’s gentle language of love, in which each creature is like a syllable of the living Word.

           “We are crucifying the earth.”

           As I said, stark words. But important ones.  It is the exact opposite of what Eucharistic Prayer D says is our place in the creation:  to rule and to serve.  To crucify is not to rule; it is to abuse. And to crucify is not to serve, but to use, even to enslave.

           Perhaps it is best to leave today with that stark statement:  What is going on around us is that humankind—we—are crucifying the earth.

           So in our celebration of creation in our own day there must be a firm note of penitence, for what we have done and left undone in regard to God’s creation.  Our use and abuse must stop and we must learn to act differently.  How to act differently will be the question I will try to answer next week.