God, who is Creator, care-giver and challenger, the heavens truly declare your glory, and the skies your handiwork, though we must confess that most of the times we city dwellers are shielded from that knowledge by the bright lights with which we surround ourselves. Our artificial lighting comforts us in the darkness and allows us to pretend that our creations and our work is all that matters. But this summer some of us have ventured out to the desert or mountain top or some deserted beach and looked up and seen your glory splashed across the skies. Some of us have even stopped to think that the mist which stretches across the night sky which we call the Milky Way can be resolved by a good telescope into hundreds of billions of stars.
Then we have asked with the psalmist, O Lord, what is man that you are mindful of him, or the daughter of man that you might care for her? Yet you have made us but a little lower than the angels and set us the task of nurturing and caring for our small part of creation. And that’s the problem. We have taken the garden you have given to our care and used its waters for sewers, its land for a garbage dump, and its creatures for target practice.
It’s really no surprise after all, Lord. How can we be expected to nurture the creation when we won’t even treat each other with respect? When we tell the poor to get a job, and won’t pay a living wage, when we tell the sick to get well, and refuse them health care, when we tell the prisoners to reform, and refuse them employment when they do. How can we ever love our neighbors when our response to those who strike out against oppression is to shoot first and ask questions later?
But that’s why we’re here this morning, Lord. We have heard rumors of the good news which says it is possible to alter our course. We have heard stories of Jesus and the amazing power of his love – power to change people like Peter and Paul, Magdalene and Helena, Augustine and Luther, Wesley and Asbury, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., and even some of our neighbors. Power to recreate us in your image.
So we pray for the gift of your Holy Spirit to come upon us, that we might not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of our minds and hearts, that we might live out the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We know you can do this, Lord. You can do it right now, if only we would pray sincerely and with full attention the prayer that Jesus taught us, saying…
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.
Dr. Tom Downing
First United Methodist Church
July 27, 2008