Deacon Leigh Kern
Christ Church, New Haven
“Like a master artisan; at the foundation of the world, I was His delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the human race.” Proverbs 8:30-31
In the name of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
64 plastic water bottles, 214 plastic grocery bags, a barbie, and a Doritos bag-
these were some of the contents of the belly of a beached whale this spring.
The gorgeous, sleek, magnificent creature was stuffed- belly brimming with the tailings of human addiction to comfort, to quick access, to the thousands of little things that take a tremendous amount of earth’s resources to manufacture, only to be used once, maybe twice, then discarded with ease.
what does it feel like
to have a belly full of plastic water bottles
what does it feel like
to have a garbage bag lodged in your throat
what does it feel like
to be starving, finding only human made waste on the ocean floor.
The oceans now have more plastic in them
The water is becoming too acidic for ancient species to develop their skeletons.
As a little girl I used to imagine sometimes what the ocean sounded like.
I imagined it full of the songs of the whales.
I wonder now, how silent the depths of the waters are.
What does it mean, to be alive during a time, when the songs of the whales are being silenced- their bodies sinking, full of the weight of human carelessness.
The deep, that the Spirit hovered over at the foundation of the world, is becoming a toxic and desolate pit.
The life, that the Word spoke from NOTHING to wild complexity and diversity, is becoming barren.
The creation, which the Parent of Life delighted in, is being manipulated and ravaged by human beings who think and act like we are little gods ourselves, entitled to use the world and one another “as private property,” for our immediate pleasure (Nicholas Lash, Believing Three Ways in One God [Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993], 51).
In the modern day capitalist consumer culture of North America we have constructed a world where many are dying, and no one is responsible.
Where the ocean is dying, but no one hears its deafening silence.
Where earthquakes increase in frequency and devastation.
Where those communities which have been historically exploited and pillaged, are zoned next to landfills.
And now, does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand (Proverbs 8:1-3).
She cries out-
Can you hear her?
Calling us to awaken from deadened hearts numb to the groaning of creation
Calling us to arise from our patterns of waste and exploitation
Calling us to take seriously the connections between exploitation of people and the land, deforestation and colonialism, poverty and fast food, oil extraction and war.
Our reading from Proverbs this morning calls forth to us, communicating God’s utter delight in creating the world, the total care in crafting the blue whale, lilacs, East Rock, you!
The Triune God delights in the world.
In the Trinity we meet God for whom creating is an act of delight, joy, total love, and wild self gift.
When we confess belief in God who created Heaven and Earth, and all that is seen and unseen, we confess the creativity of God
that creation matters to God
that bodies matter to God
that black lives matter to God
that people living with mental illness matter to God
that New Haven matters to God
that every single creature matters to God, its author and creator
that your life matters to God
that we are the delight of God, utterly beloved.
Yet our vision of the sheer magnificence of creation, the splendour of life, the beauty of what God has made, the preciousness and frailty of life,
has been obscured until the primary way we relate to one another is through transaction not transcendence.
Our vision has been obscured, so that i see you only for what you can do for me
my own selfish interest, my immediate pleasure.
We privilege our own comfort and desires over the well being of our communities and the health of creation,
we do not see each other as complex mysteries but flatten and objectify, throughstereotyping and racial profiling. . . relationships predicated on transaction not transcendence.
Seeing each other and creation as means to my own personal, private ends, not ends in and of themselves- not beautiful mysteries, born of the heart of God, full of complexity, transcending the limits we construct.
Even how we do charity, reflects this. We engage in acts of generosity, as important as financial giving is- our primary form of charity we engage in only requires a brief donation over the internet. We see those suffering from famine or drought or environmental disaster as poor victims, inhabiting a world distant from our own, whose suffering is in no way connected to the way we live our lives. And though financial giving is important, it does not require us to put our flesh, our bodies, our creative imaginations, on the line. This kind of charity reinforces the ‘other-ing’ of one another, and often maintains boundaries and hierarchies of power, instead of transforming them.
We have flattened formulas of relating to others that objectify each other- relationships predicated on transaction.
Yet the Trinity contests our objectification of one another-
the Trinity defies our flattened formulaic ways of relating
for when we assent to belief in the trinity
we confess the divine life
We confess the divine life as one-ness
and diversity. . .
mystery- transcending the smallness of our little minds,
subverting our hierarchies and flattened objectifying ways of relating
with a playful dance of eternal love.
The trinity subverts how we in our culture sanctify individualism-
instead we meet a God of communion
who bids us come and dance. Delight in the mystery, rejoice in being a creature moulded in love by its Creator.
Delight in God, and delight in what the Triune God has made.
Theologian Nicholas Lash stated that:
“We do not readily associate delight with pain or patience, resistance to our enemies, unnoticed loyalty or the routines of caring for the aged and infirm… yet delight, bears fruit, takes effect, in so transforming everything we do” until all is satiated with “kindheartedness and generosity” (Lash, Believing Three Ways in One God, 75).
God throughout scripture and in our lives, demonstrates again and again the costliness, the gravitas, the blood and sweat of love.
God is our parent, who slowly births creation, and still even now is engaged in the painful process of drawing life from death.
God is the Holy Spirit, empowering the oppressed to recreate their communities and stand like Moses before the powers of greed and empire and say, let my people go.
The costliness of God’s love is enfleshed in Jesus Christ, who cried out that we might turn from our selfish ways and follow him to the banquet of love, where the hierarchies of humanity are turned on their head- oh what burdensome, painful love,
for we know how such love has been received. How Jesus was rejected, spat upon, and murdered for his great love.
How Jesus calls us to not engage in flattened formulas of relating, that are based on objectification of the other, and transaction,
but calls us to put our flesh on the line, for the healing of our communities.
To confess our belief in the Triune God is to direct and pledge our bodies, hearts, minds, and creative energies to the love of God (Lash, Believing Three Ways in One God, 50).
To recognize ourselves as created, limited, contingent on community, needing one another, needing God.
To recognize our need to repent, be made new, and learn what it might be like to live ordered by friendship and community, that respects diversity, not seeking to flatten it, but live lives of harmony.
Saint Augustine said “What is it therefore, to believe in God? It is in believing to love, in believing to delight, in believing to walk towards God, and be incorporated amongst the limbs or members of God’s body.”
Belief in God, confession in the faith we have received, is not a personal, private matter, but calls forth for our entire being to be engaged in the transformative, healing, and creative love of God in our world.