Over the next several weeks we are going to be exploring the Book of Exodus, and journey with the newly forming nation of Israel as they grow into their newly reforming relationship with God.
We remember that our dreamer Joseph who we dreamed with this summer brought his family Egypt to save them from a severe famine. The great nation that God had promised to Abraham was forming and now about 400 years after coming to Egypt, the nation of Israel is fleeing. They leave Egypt as slaves, with the Egyptian Army in pursuit
Exodus 14:19-31New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
19 The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. 20 It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. 24 At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. 25 He clogged[a] their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. 29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
May God bless to our understanding the Words that we hear today.
You may be wondering a couple of things this morning, like why do we keep talking about ecology and climate change and stuff like that in church, Well, the answer to that one is easy. As responsible people of faith we have been charged with caring for ALL of God’s creation and that means that we to take stock of the ways that we are and we aren’t doing that. The other thing you may be wondering is how in the world I’m going to tie this scripture into today’s theme of Climate Change. I wondered that too, but the good folks at Interfaith Power and Light helped our process today with some sermon notes that helped lead the process for which I am thankful.
Will you pray with me please?
May the Words of my mouth and the meditation of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen
A little over a year ago, geologists from around the world voted to begin declaring the time period starting in the 1950’s as a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene era. This means that we now live in is the “anthropo” or human era, because our world, for the first time is most strongly defined by the ways that people impact the natural world.
Of course, you and I know that people have been interacting with the natural world for much longer than the 1950’s and our reading today is an indication of that, because Moses sure seems to be interfering with the natural world as he raises his staff and leads the people through the parted waters and then directs them to follow a pillar of fire. When Moses lifted his staff over the waters, he was not dominating nature to feel powerful or to enrich himself; He was following God’s instructions to interact with nature in order to set his oppressed people free.
We humans do have incredible power over creation, a power that was given to us by God in Genesis when Adam and Eve were given dominion to serve and to keep Eden. One of the things we seem to have forgotten over the years is that dominion does not mean domination, it means a humble caring for Creation. God tells Adam, how he must care for creation by saying, “l’ovdah ul’shomrah.” In English that means, work it and serve it, observe it and preserve it.
Unfortunately, that partnership between God and humans and nature has eroded over the years. The fact that we are in an Anthropocene era is not really a good thing because our interaction with the natural world has been leading to its destruction. Not only that, but the companies, the powers and principalities if you will, make themselves rich at the expense of our natural resources but they profit in a way that adversely affects people who are the most vulnerable in this world.
In 2015 The Ecumenical Leaders Group of Maryland issued this statement:
“Like people everywhere, we live and rely on the health and wellbeing of God’s creation-air, water and land, wildlife and domestic animals, local eco systems, biomes, and the great interconnected eco system that the whole Earth shares. Heat-trapping pollution like carbon dioxide and methane, released into the air by humans at unprecedented levels over the last 150 years, has damaged and endangered the stability of our climate, made our oceans more acidic, and is threatening global health and security.
Climate change will harm our neighbors in Maryland. In Maryland we see the impacts of our reliance on fossil fuels in many places. Our traditions teach that we are responsible for the most vulnerable people in our communities, and environmental degradation harms the poor in particular, and makes many sick: older adults face lung problems, young people deal with asthma, and disenfranchised people of all ages are subjected to pollution in their communities. We see the impacts of hurricanes and other disasters made worse by climate change. As leaders in a state with 3,190 miles of coast line, we see how many natural and human treasures rising ocean levels will destroy. Caring for God’s creation-including all its inhabitants-means slowing and limiting our use of fossil fuels and significantly reducing our climate pollution.”
It’s a big concept sometimes to get our minds around, that as people of faith this is something we need to lift up and be proactive about. All too often we are happy to let other people do the work for us or instead of us. “I can’t put up solar panels, I live in GHI…We recycle here at church, buts it’s just too much work to do it at home…I don’t really care how my home, or business or church is cooled or heated as long as it happens…” It doesn’t affect us so we don’t pay attention to it. And that is exactly the opposite of what we, as people of faith should be doing. The way that we continue to produce energy disproportionately harms the people that Jesus always called “the least of these.” Did you know that the pollution that comes from trash incinerators have been sited over and over again in predominately African-American communities as a direct link to higher rates of cancer and asthma found in the folks who live there?
We are responsible for the impact of our choices…or our non-choices if you will and we are joining today with faith communities all over Maryland to call attention to those choices. Today, we have the opportunity to start doing something positive, we have the opportunity to speak out with other people of faith across the state to encourage our representatives to take trash incineration out of Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio and to increase the amount of truly clean energy used throughout the state. We have the opportunity to think about the ways that we as individuals can make a change, in how we use or produce energy in our own homes. We cannot change the world alone, but we can change it together. May we hear God saying to each one of us “l’ovdah ul’shomrah.” work it and serve it, observe it and preserve it. Together let’s use our dominion for good. Hallelujah, Amen