Daily Reflections

2022 Season of Creation Theme: Listen to the Voice of Creation

Today I share and Extract from the Ecumenical Resource for Seasons of Creation 2022.

“Each year, the ecumenical steering committee that provides this Celebration Guide proposes a theme for the Season of Creation. The theme for 2022 is: Listen to the Voice of Creation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have become familiar with the concept of being muted during virtual conversations. Often, people using a platform do not have the capacity to unmute themselves. Even more do not even have access to digital platforms, and so their voices are never heard. Many voices are muted in public discourse around climate change and the ethics of Earth-keeping. These are the voices of those who suffer the impacts of climate change. These are the voices of those who hold generational wisdom about how to live gratefully within the limits of the land. These are the voices of a diminishing diversity of more than-human species.

It is the voice of the Earth. The 2022 Season of Creation theme raises awareness of our need to listen to the voice of all creation. The Psalmist (19: 1-4) acknowledges that hearing the voice of creation requires a kind of listening that is increasingly rare. Within the ecumenical Christian family, there is a diverse range of traditions to help us recover our capacity to hear the voice of creation. Some of the earliest Christian writings refer to the concept of creation as a book from which knowledge of God can be read. The theological tradition of the book of creation runs like a golden thread from the writings of Origen through the Patristic writers such as Tertullian, Basil of Caesarea and others. Like the Psalmist, St. Maximus reminds us that the entire cosmos praises and glorifies God ‘with silent voices’, and that praise is not heard until we give it a voice, until we praise God in and with creation. St. Augustine writes, “[Creation] is the divine page that you must listen to; it is the book of the universe that you must observe. The pages of Scripture can only be read by those who know how to read and write, while everyone, even the illiterate, can read the book of the universe.” Martin Luther wrote, “God has written [the gospel] not only in books, but also in trees and other creatures.”

A “book” or a scroll was meant to be read aloud, and therefore, it was a spoken word that was meant to be heard. The scrolls, and books of Scripture were meant to be read aloud, breathed into a community, and heard as proclamation. The Psalmist who declares that creation proclaims God’s handiwork also knows that the book of Scripture perfectly revives the soul, makes the simple wise, rejoices the heart, and enlightens the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-8) The book of creation and the book of Scripture are meant to be “read” side by side. Care must be taken not to confuse the two books, nor to blur the lines between reason and revelation. But what we “hear” from creation is more than a metaphor drawn from our understanding of ecology and climate science. It is more than the biological and physical sciences that have shaped the dialogue between theology and the natural sciences since the scientific revolution. In his encyclical on Faith and Reason, Pope John Paul II recognized that while Christ is the heart of God’s revelation, creation was the first stage of that revelation. The harmonies that emerge when we contemplate the books of creation and Scripture form our cosmology about who we are, where we are, and how we are called to live in right
relationships with God and our co-creatures.

Contemplation opens us to many modes of listening to the book of creation. Psalm 19 says that creatures speak to us of the Creator. The harmonious balance of biodiverse ecologies and the suffering cries of creation are both echoes of the Divine because all creatures have the same origin and ending in God. Listening to the voices of our co-creatures is like perceiving truth, goodness or beauty through the lives of a human friend and family member. Learning to
listen to these voices helps us become aware of the Trinity, in which creation lives, moves and has its being. Jürgen Moltmann calls for “a discernment of the God who is present in creation, who through his Holy Spirit can bring men and women to reconciliation and peace with nature.”

The Christian Tradition helps us learn to listen to the book of creation. Christian spirituality is replete with practices that move our bodies to contemplation in words and silence. Liturgical and spiritual practices are accessible from early childhood to adulthood. Cultivating a spirituality of active listening helps us to discern the voices of God and our neighbours amongst the noise of destructive narratives. Contemplation moves us from despair to hope,
from anxiety to action! For Christians, Jesus Christ holds the two “books” of creation and Scripture together. Faced
with the reality of brokenness, suffering and death, Christ’s incarnation and resurrection becomes the hope for reconciling and healing the Earth. The book of Scripture proclaims God’s Word so that we can go into the world and read the book of creation in a way that anticipates this Gospel. In turn, the book of creation helps us to hear the book of Scripture from the perspective of all creation that waits with eager longing for the good news. Christ becomes a
key to discern God’s gift and promise for all creation, and particularly those who suffer or are already lost to us.

During the Season of Creation, our common prayer and action can help us listen for the voices of those who are silenced. In prayer we lament the individuals, communities, species, and ecosystems who are lost, and those whose livelihoods are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. In prayer we centre the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor. Communities of worship can amplify the voices of young people, Indigenous people, women and affected
communities who are not heard in society. Through liturgies, public prayers, symbolic acts and advocacy, we can remember those who are displaced or have disappeared from public spaces and political processes.
Listening to the voice of creation offers members of the Christian family a rich entry point for interfaith and interdisciplinary dialogue and practice. Christians walk a shared path as those who hold different kinds of knowledge and wisdom in all cultures and sectors of life. By listening to the voice of all creation, humans joined in our vocation to care for our common home (oikos).

Let us pray
Creator of All,
From your communion of love your Word went forth to create a symphony of life that sings your praise.
By your Holy Wisdom you made the Earth to bring forth a diversity of creatures who praise you in their being. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Help us to listen to you! Amen.

Daily Reflections · Priest's Perspective

Season of Creation 1 Sept 2022

The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. (Ps 19:1)

Welcome to this series of reflections on the Season of Creation. As we meet with God each day may the Spirit of God strengthen you for the life that He created you for.

We read from Exodus 3: 1-6

Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from within a bush. Moses saw the bush ablaze with fire, but it was not consumed.  So Moses thought, “I must go over and see this marvellous sight. Why is the bush not burning up?”

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from within the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

“Here I am,” he answered.

 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. ”Then He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

In the story of the burning bush, we find Moses out in the wilderness at the furthest point from home, in other words where he was most vulnerable and insecure, faced with the scariest thing that a shepherd could face, fire. Wildfires are a terrifying thing and sheep can easily be overcome by the raging flames. Moses’ first thought must have been panic.

We are faced with this same feeling every time we read of the calamities of the world, it feels like the planet is burning. Global warming is now a household expression, and we all know about the rising temperatures and heat waves, melting ice caps and extraordinary weather incidents. Still, there are those who would want to downplay the significance and create an alternative narrative, so that their own lives would not be disturbed.

The key to Moses’s story is that he looked intently at the “Bush.” He didn’t run away, he didn’t turn his eyes and say – ‘it’s ok it’s only one bush, it doesn’t matter, he didn’t say – fires are natural events just ignore it.’

No, he investigated.

And that is what we are going to do in this Season of Creation Series. We are going to take off our shoes. Now let me just draw your attention to that simple request from God.  We read it as if it is nothing. Moses is already feeling vulnerable he is faced with a fire that could spread and burn up everything around him. With his shoes off, he can’t even run away! With his shoes off, he is making a commitment to trust God.

So, take your shoes off, put all thoughts of running away from what God is doing in your life, and listen to the voice of God. God is speaking through what you fear, speaking through what you don’t understand, speaking through what you can only hear because you stopped to listen. You are on holy Ground. Your life is sacred, and you are walking in the presence of the living God.

 This Season of Creation we are going to pray for God to open our eyes to things that are all around us and calling out to us. They are calling us to care, to rethink our actions. They are calling us to change our way of living and interacting with the world. They are calling us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.

So, join me each day as we seek the Lord with all our heart soul and mind and listen for His voice that speaks – from the burning Bush.

Let us pray.

In this Season of Creation, we pray that you would call to us, as from the burning bush, with the sustaining fire of your Spirit. Breathe upon us. Open our ears and move our hearts. Turn us from our inward gaze. Teach us to contemplate your creation, and listen for the voice of each creature declaring your glory. For “faith comes from hearing.” Give us hearts to listen for the good news of your promise to renew the face of the Earth. Enlighten us with the grace to follow the Way of Christ as we learn to walk lightly upon this holy ground. Fill us with the hope to quench the fires of injustice with the light of your healing love that sustains our common home. In the name of the One who came to proclaim good news to all creation, Jesus Christ.  Amen. (Season of Creation Celebration Guide 2022)

From The Rector's Desk

From the Rector’s Desk 19 August 2022

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

I spent some of this week on the Clergy Retreat which was a reflection on St Paul’s words from Phil 3: 13,14:

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.”

Herein, St Paul teaches us that we are our history, but that we transcend it. In other words, we must acknowledge that we are a product of our History but that “In Christ” we are not governed nor ruled by it. It does not own us. We need to forgive ourselves and others we need to take from the lessons learned and be willing to move forward. In this sense, forgetting is not denying nor downplaying it, but it means that we do not allow our past to define our identity. Our identity is in Christ and who we were was just the passage ( the journey)  toward what God is moulding us to be.

What of our past is still holding onto us and preventing us from the freedom which Christ offers? Repent of it and be set free. Press on towards what God has in store for you, both now in this life and what lies ahead.

The Pattern of Scripture is revealed through its story. The Egyptian Slavery, the deliverance from Egypt across the red sea, life in the wilderness, life in the promised land, and life in exile, is the story of our personal life journey. Furthermore, it is not a once-off pattern. In each area of our lives, in each of our complex human dimensions, we go through these processes. And we must not be afraid of them.

Whether it be an addiction that keeps us in Egypt or a mindset that takes time for us to be liberated from, the point is that not every part of your life is lived in the same “state.” In certain parts of your life, you may well be struggling with your theology around a specific issue. That’s okay, it does not negate your faith.

As it was with Moses; God has sown in your life the truth of His being, but we are raised in a secular world ( courts of Egypt); but at some point, we will have a reminder that God wants something different for us,   our response to this is ‘putting to death of the sinful life,’ but it doesn’t always go the way we imagined. Do not be afraid,  God leads us on a path of discovery, as he did with Moses. In God’s perfect timing he reveals his truth ( burning Bush experience) and brings us into his plan of salvation for all people ( not just for ourselves).

Therefore, whether you are absorbed in your secular activities or feel that you are in a place of uncertainty, or you are experiencing great spiritual fervour; all of these are encounters with God leading you, preparing you, growing you, to be liberated and be a liberator, in Christ. God is including you in His great Salvation plan for the world.

So do not be held captive by your past or your present, but submit to the Holy Spirit who will lead you. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice that will be useful to God, and press on towards the prize that God has for you; intimacy with Christ, both now and in the life to come.

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.”

Choose faith not fear – love drives out fear!

Be assured of my prayers.

Fr Andrew.

From The Rector's Desk

From the Rectors Desk 12 August 2022

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

In His closing address to the Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop sent the Bishops back out into the world with the words -” Do not fear.”  St John said, “Perfect love drives out fear.” ( 1 John 4:18)

I love that – the way that we are called to deal with fear – is to love. Fear causes us to cling to what we know, to cling to what we have, to look back (something that scripture teaches us is not a good idea – look what happened to Lots wife). Fear limits us and makes us less – we feel less, do less enjoy less, and when we fear we withdraw. Love on the other hand sets us free, free to trust, free to engage, and free to be challenged.  The Bishops have wrestled with world’s problems and have sought the face of God to engage with them. God bless our Bishops and Archbishop Welby and may Lambeth be a catalyst for a new boldness/courageousness, in God’s church.

As Archbishop pointed out; God steps into our lives to give us comfort, God seeks us out to love us, but we need to respond to that. Church (as we discussed at the St Gabriel’s council last night) is a place where we get to interact with others and develop the skills and the heart and the mindset to live out our Christian lives. Within the Church, we have differences of opinion and interpretation and expression of our faith, and it is within the church that we learn to respond to these. As I have followed some of Lambeth and as I have worked with so many Parishes this year, I have been reminded that it is within the Church that we are given space to discover and to be challenged and to be tested. Do not be disheartened by the disagreements and arguments that we have within, by the troubles that we have; do not lose heart when decisions are made that at an individual level we don’t understand or agree with. In all things ask, “what is God saying to me in and through this experience?” “What response does God seek from me?”

In every reading of scripture and every encounter with another, contemplate the situation and see the situation from every angle. Ensure that your prayer is thoughtful and exploratory – seek the wisdom and guidance from God, so that your responses can be holy.  

These three things remain, “faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love!” and love drives out fear.

Choose love, not fear!

Your servant.

Fr Andrew