|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on October 6, 2021 at 4:30 PM|
We used Eucharistic Prayer C this past Sunday as we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Francis. I will admit that it’s never been my favorite (Sorry! That honor goes to Prayer D!) but it has its merits. Some people call Prayer C the “Star Wars” prayer because it uses language like “the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.” The first Star Wars movie came out in 1977 and our current prayer book was published in 1979, so it’s definitely a product of its time in some ways.
Praying it again Sunday, I was struck by the language it uses to describe the relationship humans have to the rest of the created order. The text of the prayer says that God “made us the rulers of creation” and then describes how we turned away and betrayed God’s trust. Here, the prayer is referring to the creation narratives in Genesis. In the beginning, God creates the earth and oceans and plants, and animals, including human beings. We are all creatures, but about humans, God said, “…let them have dominion over […] every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (1:26)
There is so much we do not understand about how our universe came to be, but we put our trust in a few simple beliefs: God is our Creator and God’s Creation is good. It is beautiful and sacred. If we are going to say we have dominion over the rest of creation, we must remember, as Kevin said in his sermon on Sunday, that the creation is tov--good.
Too often, the responsibility of humans’ dominion over the earth has been abused. The earth’s resources have been treated as disposable rather than good. Greed and sloth have too often had dominion over us. I don’t include this part to incite crippling guilt in anyone—that’s not helpful. I mention it because it is part of the story of how we got where we are today.
Where are we today? You have heard the statistics. These are from National Geographic: Sea level could rise between 7 and 23 inches by century's end. South Seas islands and large parts of Southeast Asia would be flooded. Much of the world's population is concentrated in vulnerable coastal cities. In the U.S., Louisiana and Florida are especially at risk. Glaciers around the world could melt, causing sea levels to rise while creating water shortages in regions dependent on runoff for fresh water. Strong hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and other natural disasters are becoming more frequent in many parts of the world. The growth of deserts may also cause food shortages in many places.
An ever-widening circle of people are becoming ready to change their lifestyle, not out of concern for their own comfort, but to ensure a brighter future for their children and grandchildren. Remember, if we have dominion over our own lives and our own actions, we can change course! There are things we can do now to care for God’s creation in the years to come. Last month, the Archbishop of Canterbury joined with Pope Francis and the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church to issue a joint statement on the environment, which you can read here.
St. Alban’s has never been a church that would stand idly by in a crisis. Jesus taught that the virtues of faith, hope, and love are to have dominion over our lives. An environmental crisis is happening, and it’s also a spiritual crisis. Climate change will hit poor people and our children hardest. We must act. We must exercise our dominion by being caretakers of the home and the future God has entrusted to us.
We have our wonderful SEEDS Garden and we cherish our beautiful grounds and the creatures that live there, but I know there must be more we can do. If you are interested in exploring how St. Alban’s can grow in our advocacy and work on behalf of God’s creation, I would love to talk to you.
Yours in Christ,