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At St. Paul’s, We Commit Ourselves to Care, Hand-in-Hand, for the World God So Loves

April 29, 2013

[Yesterday’s Services had an Earth Day theme. For those who weren’t able to be at our Services, or those who were, but would like to reflect further on what we shared together, here’s a summary of some of what took place:]

The passages from Holy Scripture for today are Revelation 21:1-6, Acts 11:1-18, and John 13:31-35. In the context of Earth Day, let’s reflect on how responding to the call in our Gospel to love one another, we build up and transform the world, small action by small action. And, conversely, how when we choose to tear one another down, we contribute, small action by small action, to the world’s destruction.

As John 3:16 reminds us, the world we build up or tear down is the world God so loves – loves so much that God sent Jesus to give his life for it, to share his life with it.

Our passage from Acts 11 reminds us not to call unclean in this world what God has made clean – to see nothing as profane, but all nations and indeed all the world and its inhabitants as holy. We are to have an embrace that has our arms extended as wide as our Saviour’s on the Cross.

And our passage from Revelation reminds us that this open-armed embrace does indeed mirror God’s open-armed embrace of us. God makes a home with us; God “moves into the neighbourhood,” as The Message translation says. God is with us for evermore. All of our loving is shared in the context of the creative life and love of God, which transforms and makes all things new.

After listening to and reflecting on these passages of Holy Scripture, I invite us to watch the video embedded below:

We’re remembering today how we are called to “give the earth a hand” by working hand in hand with one another, and with God. I invite us to place our hands together, and into the hand of God, in prayer, being ever ready to be part of God’s answer to the prayer for the world that we have offered.

[At both Services yesterday, we gave symbolic expression to this commitment in prayer for the world by writing our prayers down on two paper hands that were stapled together, to plant in a garden of “hand flowers” in the Baptismal Font, as a reminder that this stewardship of creation flows from our Baptismal vows.]

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Any of us who weren’t at our Services are welcome to use the above image as a template and do the same now. On one hand I invite us to write down what we wish for ourselves from the world – what we yearn for for ourselves. It can be very simple things – the things we’ve watched on the above video: clean air, clean water, and the like.

Then on the other hand, I invite us to write down what we wish for the world through us, what we yearn for for others – indeed, what the world yearns for from us. Let’s again write down simple things, concrete actions, what we plan to do to help answer this prayer, to make that for which we are praying a reality.   

[While people wrote on their paper hands yesterday, the following two videos were shown. Everyone was invited to sing along with the second, once they had finished writing down their prayers.]

I invite you to staple these hands together, bring them to our upcoming May 5 or 12 Services, and place them in the Baptismal Font to join the others in our Parish’s “hand garden”.

[Huge thanks to Doreen Peters and Allison Pierce for their awesome combination of creative ideas and the willingness to work hard with their hands to bring them to fruition, as was demonstrated yet again by yesterday’s “hand” craft! Allison and Brian, note the photo above of wild horses as one of the representations of the beauty of God’s creation!]

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