1 Cor 15:12-20
by Rev. Dennis Nthenge, Green Anglican Coordinator, Kenya, and All Saints Diocese Nairobi Youth Coordinator
OLD TESTAMENT: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Jeremiah God’s prophet was called an early age to be the voice of God. He was used to deliver some very heavy messages to the children of Israel. They made God very angry with their false worship and social injustice. Their sins were so grave that they even affected the non-human creation, rain halted in the land that saw strife extended to the plant and animal kingdom (Jeremiah 3:3). This particular text warns the Israelites of the impending outcome that awaits their behaviour. The warning is clear and precise that; those who ignore God and trust in themselves are likened to a useless stunted bush that tries to grow in barren ground however, those who trust in God are likened to a healthy green tree that flourishes in well-watered fertile soil.
Psalms are songs of praise to God as our Creator, sustainer redeemer. Praise is recognising, appreciating and expressing God’s greatness. The author begins his psalm extoling the joys of obeying God and the rewards it comes with comparing their lives to those of the ungodly who only have judgment awaiting. In both their thought and their behaviour, the godly are different from others. They constantly rely upon the God consequently their lives are marked with freshness, strength and growth. Sinners seemingly have no stability in their lives. They have chosen the way that is worthless, and therefore their lives will bring disappointment and end in despair.
EPISTLE: 1. Corinthians 15:12-20
Christ’s return guarantees the resurrection of all believers. Resurrection implies renewal. The title of one of Dave Bookless’ book “God does not waste” brings meaning to this text. God’s strategy and action to redeem man did not involve replacing or throwing away but rather renewing that which was tainted and distorted by human sin. We’ve been called to look at the world through the eyes of Christ and exercise compassion to all of God’s creation (both human and non-human). As we wait upon our renewal let us help in renewing the earth. If God is a giver of second chance lets reconsider our consumerism nature and embrace the new culture of reduce, reuse and recycle, this way we shall give earth another chance of recovery and ultimately renew the health of man by creating a little heaven here on earth.
GOSPEL: Luke 6:17-26
The gospels bear witness that wherever Jesus went he did well. Word travelled far of His healing power and so crowds gathered just to touch him. Jesus capitalised on this moment to deliver one of his greatest sermons, entitled the Beatitudes. Beatitudes is from a Latin word meaning “blessing.” They describe what it means to be a Christ follower, give standards of conduct and just like our other texts they help contrast kingdom values with worldly values. We are called to value what God values and abhor what God abhors. John 14:23. In present day English, blessed is probably not as good a translation like “happy”. Are we happy with the state of the environment today, are we living in harmony with the rest of creation? What are we doing about it, any intention of doing good to the creation that God once considered good?
DRAFT SERMON/SERMON OUTLINE
LISTEN TO THE WORD:
Our Psalm reading and the reading in Jeremiah have drawn for us a clear message that helps us distinguish a believer from a non-believer. Those who trust in God flourish like trees planted by the water. In times of trouble, they will have abundant strength, not only for their own needs but for others in need. St Francis says it best: “Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature. We are all born to help each other”. It is interesting how both authors made use the analogy of the Tree and water to bring out the differences, however, it is not a surprise for God’s creation makes for the perfect commentary to God’s word.
LINK TO THE WORLD:
Water to an African is sacred, not because of its scarcity in the continent but because it is believed to be the connection to life. There exist three models for the representation of water as found in African traditions: water as a source of life, as an instrument of purification and as a locus of regeneration. The Bantu people, to whom I belong, consider that the place of birth, of creation, is a great whirlpool of water, or a reed bed, which they situate in the Orient. (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/45618)
Water is such a precious substance, whose scarcity is a true natural catastrophe. Farmers’ lives are literally at the mercy of rainfall: if it ceases, comes too late or falls too hard, it will destabilise their lives and eventually the economy of a people.
This imagery of water would not be taken all so kindly by a citizen of Kenya living in Nairobi. A lot happens along the course of the Nairobi River as it makes its way from the north west to the south east of the city. It’s mainly used by residents of low-income settlements as a source of water for cleaning homes, bathing and for watering crops. But it’s also used to discard household and human waste as many homes don’t have toilets, and industrial waste is frequently dumped in the river. (https://theconversation.com/i-looked-at-how-polluted-nairobi-river-is-what-i-found-123533).
If Prophet Jeremiah lived in our times and resided near the Nairobi river, he would need to come up with a different analogy to help us understand the word of God for whatever is planted along such a polluted body water almost never survives and if it does no one would want to eat from its fruit due to the impurities that its roots would pull from the toxic stream.
What is God’s call for us as His children? We are called to renew our world. As we await the resurrection that will usher us into our new and glorious nature (Philippians 3:20-21) let us appreciate what Romans 8:19 also says: “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed”. Jeremiah 17:5-10 and Psalm 1 clearly distinguishes us from the children of the world, now that we’ve been revealed arise and take action for God’s creation awaits you. The little issue that God enables you to notice please arise and solve it. If it is cleaning and greening the wetlands go for it for all animals that teem in the waters are depending on you.
Wetlands play a critical role in maintaining many natural cycles and supporting a wide range of biodiversity. They purify and replenish our water, and provide the fish and rice that feed billions. Your little efforts will translate to a great blessing for all of God’s creation. Let us also pray that God will also raise men and women who have a passion for stewarding this earth in the proper way.
by Rev. Dennis Nthenge, Kenya