Sunday, December 2, 2012

All The Trees - Luke 21:25-36, Advent1

In the 1997 hit romantic comedy - fools rush in - staring salma Hayak and Matthew Perry, two young people who met by “fate”, and have nearly nothing in common, try to decide if they are meant to be together. As they are trying to figure out what to do, in kind of a bizarre scene, a priest on the street says to no one in particular....there are signs everywhere. Matthew Perry’s character engages him, What? What was that? There are signs everywhere, he says, then he points a billboard sign... Signs signs everywhere they’re signs blocking up the scenery breaking my mind, do this don’t do that can’t you read the signs! Before Billboards, there were signs in the sun, the moon, the stars On the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. Look at the fig tree. Look at all the trees and their leaves.... who can read tea leaves? or tasseography as the kids are calling it these days... Where is the oracle to consult? Who possesses the chrystal ball, or in the very least the magic eight ball? Anyone have a deck of cards? I’ve been staring at my palms...someone help me out!
  Whether we are just so caught up in our own little world, or inundated in the second hand world of news, media, magazines, information we consume, it seems like something major is happening: THe signs are everywhere - something major is happening, what is it? What are the signs that you see that point to cosmic catastrophe? ask? What does Jesus want from his disciples in the face of the signs? One thing is seems he’s saying: see all the stuff happening. do not, you know, booze it up. Sometimes it seems that could be the best way to deal with our problems... ...don’t let your hearts be weigthed down with dissipation and drunkeness. I had to look that word dissipation up: kraipalē - only place this appears in bible. the giddiness and headache caused by drinking wine to excess (bible web app. com) Hangover Not turning to the bottle... symbolically saying, don’t bury your head in the ground. Don’t give up Don’t freeze and do nothing. Don’t give in to anger or violence. Jesus says, see all the stuff...don’t worry. Don’t let your hearts be weighed down. Any of us come here this morning with a heavy heart?! We’re fragile sensitive human beings. We want things to go right. We don’t understand how things can go so terribly wrong... But instead Jesus says, Look up! Look up! The Son of Man coming in the clouds. Look up at the sun, the moon, Contrast of heavy hearts...and looking up at the fig trees and all the trees! Death vs Life. Kind of the point of Resurrection is that it ain’t the end Love wins. I enjoy reading this positively focused socially focused magazine called YES! And the title of the recent edition: What would nature do? Kind of what Jesus is saying: look at al the trees. What are they saying? The editor of the publication talks about the first nations people where she lives - the Suquamish Tribe - in the Pacific Northwest She points out how the Suquamish have managed to find a way “out of the devastation caused by having their land taken away and their culture suppressed” One of their first priorities was to restore habitat for salmon and shellfish. The tribe, with its staff of biologists, is now among the most relentless forces for clean water and fish habitat in this area. When a nearby saltwater bay was closed to shellfish harvesting because of pollution, many figured cleaning up that bay would be too difficult. Just harvest somewhere else!
 I was with a friend who said the world is in such bad shape, we’re past the point of no return, but eventually we’ll find a way to another planet. What? And of course all too common in the some christian narratives is to not engage the social problems around, our main goal is to just get to heaven. But tribal leaders didn’t see the insurmountable.... Each place is sacred— even places dominated by strip malls, industry, and parking lots. After years of patient work, that bay is now clean; tribal members go out on the sandy flats at low tide with buckets and digging forks and bring home shellfish for themselves—and to share.” Nature doesn’t write off parts of the Earth, and neither can we. In this story in luke, and throughout the bible, like the christmas story. God comes to us. God comes near Redemption is near. Here, not somewhere else. And so each and every day, we are to clothe ourselves with kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience.... always looking to the good, and to do good. We proclaim God’s reign in this world by claiming our own redemption... liberation from all that would keep us from being who we have been created to be, liberation from the lies that would tell us that we can do nothing, or that we are nothing because the promises of God have been made...there is a future. Once we are freed from the much more effective can we be! We can laugh, what a gift! We can cry, what a gift! We can act with imagination! What a gift. In the same Yes! magazine, featured is the creative spirit Natalie Jeremijenko, who runs the Environmental Health Clinic at New York University. She has all kinds of wonderfully freeing creative ideas about any number of problems she sees in the world. Here’s one that I thought was a hoot! Picture New York City at rush hour? Kind of a hopeless situation... But Jeremijenko says: How bout Personal Travel and Product Transport by zip line. reimage urban mobility. Zip lines, apparently, are very inexpensive, reliable, and wondrous. She had one installed in Toronto. People who ride it also wear biomimetic wings, so the ride feels almost like flying. What was that about the Son of Man coming on the clouds. That’s as close as you can get... A spectacle like hundreds of people flying over the main square of Toronto creates a shared memory of a possible future. In New York a commercial bakery is serviced by 76 diesel trucks every morning. If the bakery, only a few blocks from water, used zip lines to transport products to the river and then shipped by boat, all those trucks would no longer be necessary. If we ask ourselves why we distribute food in such a way that it gives our children asthma and compromises the cardiovascular health of every one of us, then we might ask, how might we re imagine this? With the zip emissions. (Shocking the Big City With a Little Green Grass: Winter 2012) Catastrophe, things getting worse. What will we do?! carry worry in our hearts? Or look up.... use our imaginations to see the world in a new way! Looking up, an act of resilience, optimism. Not being defeated. EVER! Look up. All the trees We are in advent. We await Christmas! Signs point to all kinds of pressure to make it a merry season of present giving. Ha! Let’s give the gift of being present to one another and the world around us.... The themes we’ll explore: Love, Joy, Peace, Promise, and the Light of Life. What a beautiful picture of what is to come. Look up. Let us pray. O Son of Man, coming in the clouds. we look up. We know that life is difficult, You know that life is difficult. Reside in our hearts. Overshadow the worry. Heal our brokenness. May we live as a liberated people, called to be people of love, joy, and peace. this holy season. In Jesus name. Amen.

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