by Rev Dr Richard Acosta Rodríguez, Priest of the Diocese of Colombia, Episcopal Church
SUMMARY OF PREACHING THEME
CREATION: PEDAGOGUE OF THE KINGDOM IN ADVENT TIME
Providentially, for the preaching on this Sunday, all readings provide us with valuable elements in order to understand Creation as a pedagogical instrument of God to lead us into him, his ways and make his Kingdom to come true among us. The Word of God calls us to understand God’s work as an important part in our relationship with him: restoring harmonious, fair relationships, with other humans and with the environment.
In the text of Isaiah, we find the mountain, a constant landscape in the Bible to express proximity to God; it is a privileged space to enter into an intimate relationship with him (Moses with the Law and Jesus with the Beatitudes, the Transfiguration). The mountain is the place of worship (where the temple is). Climbing the mountain, to meet the Lord, results in learning from him and shaping ourselves to match his will; but not only that, it also transforms human relations because this encounter brings peace between brothers and sisters, between nations.
Psalm 122 insists that the ‘raison d’être’ of the mountain is to gather the community to praise but also to do justice, and that combination (prayer-justice) is what makes the desired peace to come true. But, pay attention, peace does not come by itself. We must climb, we must walk, we must strive for it. It is not a matter of static, mystical tasks, but of actions, of movement, of walking to meet.
Jesus remembers the Flood to explain his return. The Flood is nothing other than the return to chaos prior to creation. God, in his infinite love, breaks into chaos, in the domain of the sea and orders everything, creates everything. And precisely, the being who was put as the steward of his creation was the one who brought the “flood” back to the earth, ending and destroying everything. By its evil the creation suffered and was exterminated.
And what do we do? The answer is in the Gospel and in the letter to Romans 13: 11–14: wake up, be prepared, get up! Paul calls our attention to read the signs of the times, to understand the context we live in and, above all, to wake up from the anaesthetic dream we are in, to get out of the darkness. It is time to restore just relationships with creation and others. It is time to think like the image and likeness of God.
Old Testament reading / Psalm
- Keep in mind that the mountain is mentioned 4 times. The mountain evokes the place of the presence of the Lord, from where he communicates as he did to Moses and in the Transfiguration story. It is the place of worship, of the encounter with the Lord to praise Him. Let’s see how nature serves as a meeting place with God throughout the Scriptures. (v.2).
- Isaiah invites you to climb because it will be on that mountain (where the temple is) the place where God will teach his ways. (v.3). The mountain becomes a spiritual school, a sanctuary to learn from God. But you must walk, climb, it is not a static relationship but dynamic.
- After that encounter with the Lord, on the mountain, there will be the necessary transformation of humanity, where we will change our scale of values: swords for ploughs, spears for pruners (v.4). The God with us (Emmanuel), humanity, mountain (creation) will bring the expected peace where the earth is also benefited (v.4).
- This last idea is reinforced by Psalm 122. It is there, on the Mount of Jerusalem, where the community not only praises God (v.4) but where justice operates (v.5). Then, the trinomial: God, humanity, creation, is not only mystical relationships but social; only with true spirituality and intrinsically united will the true peace finally be lived, which is insisted on three times (vv. 6-8).
New Testament reading
- The Letter to the Romans, in verse 11, leaves the most pertinent exhortation for the present reflection: “Consider the time in which we live, and know that it is time to wake up from sleep.”
- It is time to open your eyes and stop dreaming that everything is fine, that the environmental crisis is a myth, that it is a distant problem, of another generation. “The night is nearly over” (V.12), we have already slept too much; “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light” (V. 12). Let’s wake up and realise that we don’t let that light shine.
- It is necessary to consider the time in which we live. Jesus also pointed out when he spoke of the signs of the times. We are not reading them. The earth groans, with labour pains (as Paul writes in Romans) and we are not listening; it simply bleeds, overheats, is mutilated in its forests and species, and we are not able to see that that is returned to us because we depend on everything else.
- We must “wake up from sleep” and walk, start walking, act.
- As in Isaiah, again, the answer is to move, walk, get up; not staying static, asleep. You must get on track, on the move.
- In the gospel, Jesus remembers Noah and the Flood (vv. 23-39) and compares his return to that episode.
- We must remember what the Flood is. It is about the return of creation to the pre-creational situation (Gen 1: 1), because before creation everything was chaos, everything was water. God, with his creative work puts water in its place and fills the cosmos with harmony. But, human evil (Gen 6: 5) makes everything back to chaos and water (Gen 7). Human evil is against creation.
- It is we, the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26), who by our evil work against being image, likeness, harmony, creation; and, rather, we become chaos, destruction, extinction, homicide, injustice, inequity. We must repent and change course of life.
- You are right. We are in full flood. We are finishing with the creative work of God. And, that is why, at this time of Advent we cry “come Lord Jesus,” come and make your Kingdom to come true. Maranatha.
- We must be prepared, for we do not know the day or the hour (v.36,42.44), and we do not want the Lord’s coming to surprise us by being unfaithful to our stewardship with creation, to surprise us in chaos and in the flood XXI century.
- It is time to change our attitudes and align them with Christ, with that image and likeness, so that life, creation will triumph over chaos again.
Environmental & Sustainability themes / links:
Further reading (books / websites / videos etc.)
Book: Acosta, Richard. Dios, Hombre, Creación. Hacia una Ecoteología bíblica. Bogotá. San Pablo. 2014.
WORSHIP / LITURGICAL RESOURCES
Gathering & Penitence
Welcome: “Feel all loved, welcomed, welcomed by God who is Father and Mother, who is life and creation.”
Confession: (may be as an invitation) “Now, let us recognise and ask forgiveness from the God of life, when we have not been good stewards, when we have not acted in his image and likeness; when we throw garbage, we waste, we pollute and we are unfair. Let us ask forgiveness when we destroy his work and refuse to wake up from this darkness”
Service of the Word
For the Creed:
Once we have nourished ourselves with the Word of the Lord, let us stand up and tell the God of life that we believe in him who is Creator, in his Son who is the head of heaven and earth, in the Spirit that flutters in his magnificent work and in the Church, co-creator and faithful steward of its Creation.
by Rev Dr Richard Acosta Rodríguez, Colombia