On A Mission Of Love

[]Today's sermon is about a mission of love. We have moved into our Easter season (Easter was just two Sundays ago), and we have heard the stories of Jesus, his ministry, his death, his resurrection, and his reappearance to the disciples. And when we look at the stories of Jesus from a larger view, we might label it as, "What was Jesus here to do?" Well, Jesus was on a mission of love. Jesus was bringing God's message of love, and care, and forgiveness, and compassion to all of us, to all of the people, so that we might live a life that is good, one in which we not only honor God, but one in which we respect and care for one another.

So when we read the stories of Jesus, we see that very clearly, that Jesus cared for those who came into his midst, those who needed healing, those who needed to be welcomed back into the community. And Jesus did this. And despite his being put to death, God raised Jesus, affirming that God's message to us is one of love, is one of compassion and caring. And so as we see that Jesus was on a mission of love, it's no accident that the church today is also on a mission of love following those things that Jesus taught us.

This church is on a mission of love. And one of those missions of love is our Learning Center, providing a safe, loving and caring environment for children, to help raise them up and educate them and prepare them for kindergarten, but also to help them to know, love and respect the other children and the adults as well. And so that is one of the ways we are fulfilling a mission of love in this church: caring for these children who are part of the next generation.

Our youth just completed a 30-Hour Famine. In their presentation this morning, they told us that thousands upon thousands of children die every day as a result of lack of food. They have just experienced what that is like. So our youth, who are a mission in our church, are themselves doing mission, trying to help children around the world who find themselves with no food. They are showing that love and compassion and care that Jesus was showing to the people when he walked the earth.

And so we see several missions right there in the life of our church. It is important that we continue those missions, and even add to them as the Spirit moves us. And each of us in this church has a mission that God has placed us on earth for. Your own special gifts or talents will usually lead you to whatever that mission is. But Jesus' being on a mission of love, and the church being on a mission of love, reminds us that we don't just do that as Christians, but as humanity. We are on a mission of love and caring for each other.

As we come to Earth Day this year and Earth Sunday, it is important for us to remember that it is our obligation to care for our earth. Whether or not you agree with global warming, scientists recently said, "We withdraw our earlier statements about global warming because we were completely wrong…it's much, much worse than we thought," which does send fear into many of us who are part of the younger generation because we're not sure what can be done to help things. We're not sure what can be done to save us but, more importantly, to make sure our children and our children's children and grandchildren have an earth that they can inherit that will continue to provide and sustain life.

As I considered Earth Day this year, it made me listen again to all those things that we hear on the news, things we should do about conserving energy, about conserving water, about keeping our groundwater clean, about keeping our oceans clean because so many species in the ocean have become extinct from overfishing and from pollution. In the past, we didn't always know that these things were problems, but God has gifted us with a wisdom and a spirit to understand these things that are happening so that we can stop our own undoing. So on this Earth Sunday, I think it's important for us to, for a moment, take seriously the things that we hear for if they are true, and we do not act, the earth may not be able to provide life for the generations in the future. God did not place us on this earth to be stewards of this creation just for our own sake, for us in our life before we die, but it's for the many generations of humanity that will come after us.

For thousands of years there have been people of many faiths across all of humanity (not just those of the Christian faith) who have recognized that our resources are finite and that we need to take care of our good earth. Native Americans, who lived in harmony with nature and saw God everywhere, saw the Great Spirit in the trees, in the oxen, and in the buffalo. They were very careful to take and use only that which they needed. They didn't consider the land they lived on theirs; it was borrowed land and they knew it did not belong to them. There is a lot we can learn from the spirituality of our Native American brothers and sisters: that God is present in the good creation that is all around us.

If we take time to look at the trees, to smell the flowers, to nurture the plants, we will see not only that they bring forth life, but that they bring forth food and nourishment for us and others. If we look at these things carefully and see God in these things, I think it might make it easier for us to understand that we need to make changes in our lives and give up some of our conveniences for the sake of future generations.

For me, I see it as our cross to bear. We have lived well and enjoyed, and I know many decades ago they said, "Better living through chemistry," and even through pharmaceuticals. But we are finding even now that some of these things are impacting us in ways we could not have imagined, and change will need to be made. Though it means we may have to endure suffering and have fewer convenience than we're used to having, it may be a necessary thing for us to do as good stewards of the earth, stewards who love and care for those who will come after us. It is one of our callings, and it is one of the things that we are to open ourselves to do, because all of us are on a mission of love.

April 26, 2009

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