by Revd Dr Rachele (Evie) Vernon O’Brien and Rebecca Boardman, Theological Advisor and Programmes Manager for the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel)
SUMMARY OF PREACHING THEME
In Luke’s gospel (23:1-49) we see Jesus on the way to his crucifixion – the most horrible act in the world.
When human beings deliberately set out to destroy someone who had only done good, only shown mercy, only been just. Whom they thought was only a good human being
But whom we believe to be the second person of the Trinity; God manifested in human flesh.
So human beings in their blindness put to death the one whom we believe to be the Eternal Word, who spoke creation into being
Jesus warns the people that the horror of what they are doing now (when the tree is green) is nothing compared to the horror of what is to come (when the tree is dry).
We are now in the dry time.
We were willing to kill the creator.
We are now engaged in killing the creation.
Human beings murdered the Son of God. We were not there physically to take part in this act, but we signify our consent by our taking part in the murder of God’s creation. We consent by our action and our inaction.
We are taking part in the destruction of creation:
- By putting profit and wealth over our planet.
- By choosing convenience, single-use items and fast fashion -that generate huge waste amount of waste both in terms of energy to produce and by discarding things before their time- as opposed to truly valuing God’s creation;
- By extracting minerals, tearing up the landscape and polluting water resources with little mind for local communities or workers;
- By intensifying agriculture to the detriment of the long-term health and fertility of the land.
- By the overuse of water depleting aquifers and in places intensifying drought;
- By continuing to use and demand fossil fuels knowing full well that they are causing unthinking damage due to climate change.
Passion tide is a call to repentance.
Through the gospel reading, we are called to face the horrors done to Jesus; to confess our collusion in them and to demonstrate our turning away by committing to work alongside others in the saving of his creation.
Our commitment must include re-centering our own lives and choosing lifestyles that demonstrate that we understand the true cost of the resources that we use. By living simply. But above all we must also challenge the systems and structures that reinforce ideas that the rich can live ‘cheap’ and ‘easy’ lives at the expense of the rest of creation and their global brothers and sisters. We must demand action from all – from our local community to our national and international policymakers. We must demand justice for this generation and the next.
Old Testament reading / Psalm
In the context of the Sunday of the Passion, both give testimony to the suffering of God’s servant
- The musings of the prophet Isaiah who is trying to make sense of exile. This text deepens our understanding of Jesus’ journey to the cross, highlighting injustice and describing the suffering of the servant at the hands of his enemy. It vividly depicts human willingness to destroy someone who had only done good.
- Expresses the suffering and pain of the rejection, betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus. The same pain that we continue to cause as we destroy God’s creation
- In Luke’s gospel (23: 1-49) we see Jesus on the way to his crucifixion- the most horrible act in the world.
- Vs 1-15 establish Jesus as innocent finding “no basis of charge against this man” (4 and 14) and that “he has done nothing to deserve death” (15)
- Vs 18-25 show that in knowing this the crowd demanded the crucifixion of Jesus shouting “Crucify him! Crucify him!”, thus showing humans deliberately set out to destroy someone who had only done good, only shown mercy, only been just. Whom they thought was only a good human being.
- Vs 29-29 Jesus says: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’” We are challenged by the intergenerational injustice of the destruction of God’s creation. We weep for ourselves as we are experiencing the impacts now, but also for future generations who will pay a greater price for our actions and inaction.
- Vs 31 –we are in a time that is dry. Willing to kill the creator and engaged in killing creation.
Further reading (books / websites / videos etc.)
Faith in a Changing Climate – USPG resource: http://www.uspg.org.uk/docstore/175.pdf
UK – State of Nature Report (2016)
Joy in Enough Confession by Green Christian https://joyinenough.org
Our climate is changing, and we are changing it. We confess our carbon footprints, our failure to consider the consequences of our actions, our slowness to react. We are sorry for all the times we knew the right thing to do, but chose convenience.
Your earth is exploited, and we are complicit in its exploitation. Species are lost, soil erodes, fish stocks decline, resources dwindle. We confess that many of us have taken too much, and not considered the needs of future generations.
We have become consumers. We have turned a blind eye to greed. We confess our hunger for more, and our failure to appreciate what we already have. We live in a time of unparalleled luxury, and we are sorry that we have not been more grateful.
The poor are left behind, even in this age of plenty. Human rights are pushed aside for profit. Wealth accumulates for the rich while the poorest still do not have what they need. We confess our apathy to injustice, and our haste in judging others.
This is not who you made us to be. We have not been good caretakers of your garden Earth. We have not loved our neighbours. Forgive us, creator God.
Forgive us. Renew us. Inspire us.
And in your strength, God, we declare:
- Enough climate change: help us to take responsibility. Give us the wisdom to live appropriately, the urgency to act, and the courage to make changes. Give us the voice to call for change from our leaders, and the perseverance to keep asking.
- Enough consumerism: give us what we need, God our provider. Then help us to find satisfaction and contentment. Help us to be grateful and generous.
- Enough inequality: nobody should be left behind. You care for the poor, and we want to follow your example. Make your church a living example of equity and inclusion, and a powerful advocate for justice and sharing.
We thank you for your kindness and your mercy. We look to your promise of restoration, and we move forward. Give us the strength to speak and to act – not out of guilt or duty, for we are forgiven and we are loved. Instead, we speak and act out of joy:
- joy in the living hope of knowing you
- joy in serving each other
- joy in the beauty and diversity of creation, your gift to us
- joy in your provision and your care – joy in enough
In your name we pray, Amen
Lord’s Prayer video meditation: https://vimeo.com/228292829
by Revd Dr Rachele (Evie) Vernon O’Brien and Rebecca Boardman, USPG, UK