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ecofaith input for June 18th: common ground for literalists and evolutionists

Reading 1) Ge 1:20-26  (JOHN)
And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky."  So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.  God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."  And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so.  God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

Reading 2) Evolutionists: (JASON)
Before the beginning there was God, God alone. And God said, "Let there be." And there was.  A massive explosion, billions of billions of degrees centigrade.  Energy screaming out in all directions, God's relationship to creation had begun.

And God was there, for thousands, and millions, and billions of years as the energy became matter, and matter became dust, and the dust formed galaxies and quasars and solar systems, and our sun, and our earth… and God saw that it was Good.

And God was there...  as our planet cooled and brought forth life… and life became cells- the first complex creatures in our part of the universe, and God saw that they were good.

And God was there... as the vertebrates emerged: fish, amphibians, dinosaurs, tiny mammals, birds.  Birth, sex, death.  God was there for a billion years as organisms and species came and went and related to each other.  God watched the cycle of life, and saw that it was good.

And God was there.  As the mammals grew smarter, developing languages and tools and a sense of something beyond them- the first stirrings of a response to the Word of God.  Some shed their hair, they stood up, they grew smarter.  Perhaps too smart, perhaps not smart enough. 

At ecofaith- God of life, as part of life not the centre of it.
Exploring stories- the story of evolution, of ecology.  Stories of faith, stories about Jesus, our stories.
How do they all come together?
What do we need to change? 
We don’t agree- we are more concerned about where people are heading (into more intimate communion with the God of life) than where they are at.

For example, for some of us the Genesis story above remains a true and useful part of the story of the world and of our faith, though we probably see it metaphorically rather than literally.

For others of us this story instead reveals our own human bias.  How incredulous, we say, that humans have presumed that God: who is at least 15 billion years old, and 20 billion light years across, the God of 70 million million million solar systems, the God of the millions of species of creatures on Earth that have already been and will yet be, nevertheless decided that out of all of those creatures, here and abroad, we are the one species in God’s image.  The one species given dominion of life on this planet.

And evolutionists and ecologists assure us that, fundamentally, humans have anything but dominion on Earth.  For starters, we haven’t been here for most of it.  For seconds, even now it is the bacteria and plants which drive the life cycles of Earth, not humans.
But, we might admit, some humans certainly have used technology to seize “dominion” of large tracts of land and resources, or at least they have used technology to destroy it.

So, whether Genesis 1 or the evolutionist’s creation stories are the starting point, it is clear that some humans have power and are using it to exercise dominion over other life forms, including other humans.
We might disagree as to whether this is God ordained, but we agree that it is happening.

So what to do?

We think of Jesus’ words: To whom much has been given, much will be expected.  Surely also By whom much has been seized, even more will be expected.  We think of the warning about the rich fool who stored up all his wealth to live a comfortable life, which he lost that very night.  He had a hard heart, a stone heart, towards others.  We think of all of the warnings against stone hearted people in the biblical witnesses.

We think, of course, of the lilies of the fields.  Jesus’ message to those who have dominion and power, whether they were given it, or seized it.  What would happen on this planet if every person with some wealth and power took this message to heart and lived it out?  If their stone hearts were softened?  What would happen if ours were?

Reading 3) Luke 12:22-31 (JOHN)
Jesus said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?  Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you -- you of little faith!  And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying.

For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Reading 4) Evolutionists’ end (JASON)
And the Word of God grew louder, and so did the opposition to it.  So the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and was adored and loved and cherished, and despised and rejected and killed.   And raised.  And humans have never been the same since.


We’ve thought about stones in the negative sense.  A symbol of inflexibility, coldness, hard heartedness. 

But people of faith have also referred to stones in a positive sense: God as the rock.  Jesus as the corner-stone. 
I invite you to ponder this tale in which we are stones.

My grandfather took me to the fish pond on the farm when I was about seven, and he told me to throw a stone into the water. He told me to watch the circles created by the stone. Then he asked me to think of myself as that stone person.

"You may create lots of splashes in your life but the waves that come from those splashes will disturb the peace of all your fellow creatures," he said.

"Remember that you are responsible for what you put in your circle and that circle will also touch many other circles. You will need to live in a way that allows the good that comes from your circle to send the peace of that goodness to others. The splash that comes from anger or jealousy will send those feelings to other circles. You are responsible for both."

That was the first time I realized each person creates the inner peace or discord that flows out into the world. We cannot create world peace if we are riddled with inner conflict, hatred, doubt, or anger. We radiate the feelings and thoughts that we hold inside, whether we speak them or not. Whatever is splashing around inside of us is spilling out into the world, creating beauty or discord with all other circles of life.

Remember the eternal wisdom:
Whatever You Focus On Expands

Stone can be good things.  Security can be useful.  If we are secure in our faith- in life, in the God of life, in ourselves, then we don’t need to protect our hearts so much.  We can afford to be more soft hearted.

Our newest member at Scots is called ……  The soft hearted one.  The compassionate one.  And here she is.  She can afford to be soft hearted because she has appropriate security.  She has the security of her body.  She has the security we are offering her for a time- sanctuary from cats and dogs and developers.  Perhaps as we pass by her over the next few months she can return our favour to her by reminding us to check whether our security is resting in the right place.   Is our faith strong enough that our hearts can be soft enough?

As we leave the sanctuary today I invite us to continue our worship by placing the stone we are carrying in the aquarium.  Perhaps symbolising a ripple we have made which we value, or a ripple we need help to make.  Perhaps laying a hard heart to rest.  The stones will stay there for a few months too, as reminders.  So look at your stone.  Make sure you will remember it by next week.