Today was Picnic Sunday at Holy Cross and we were blessed to worship on the shores of Lake Simcoe at the Loretto Maryholme Retreat Centre. The Worship Bulletin which includes the readings is available here. A written text of the sermon I intended to preach can be found here, or you can listen too the abbreviated sermon that was preached to the accompaniment of not so gentle breezes is printed below
“I have come that they may have life and live it abundantly!”
Please take a moment to sink deeply in to this great abundance of which we are a part.
Wiggle your toes upon the surface of this magnificent planet of which we are apart.
Reach out and touch the astounding, intricate textures of the grass.
Let your eyes feast upon the immensity of the sky, the shimmering beauty of the lake.
Somebody please hug a tree!
On this day, in the midst of such profound beauty let us read the gospel that is found in the book of Creation. It is just as Sir Francis Bacon insisted, some 500 years ago, true that:
“God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation.”
Lift up your hearts and listen as the cosmos declares in infinite and magnificent the Gospel the Christ: “I have come that they may have life and live it abundantly!”
Abundance: the dictionary defines the word abundance as an adjective meaning “existing or available in large quantities: plentiful. Copious, ample, profuse, rich, lavish, abounding, liberal, generous, bountiful, large, huge, great, bumper, prolific, teeming, plentiful, bounteous.
We stand in the midst of the abundance of Creation.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and live it abundantly!”
Abundant life, abounding life, generous life, bountiful life, large life, huge life, great life, bumper life, liberal life, prolific life, teeming life, plentiful life, bounteous life. Look around and you will see the Earth living abundantly. Take a deep breath and you can actually taste the abundance of life, teeming life, bounteous life, plentiful life, abounding life. The life of the Earth is indeed abundant.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and live it abundantly!” Sadly, over and over again, generations upon generations of the followers of Jesus have failed to embrace the Gospel, which Jesus lived as he proclaimed the Good News of abundant life, by living fully, loving extravagantly and being all that he was created to be. For too long now the followers of Jesus have failed to embrace abundance as the core, the very essence of the gospel. We have opted for a smaller, lesser, more confining, indeed, a more restricting narrative with which to proclaim the gospel. For most of the past 2000 years, the master narrative the followers of Jesus have chosen to tell has been the story of the fall of Adam and Eve and the need from redemption through the suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Humanity has been defined as fallen, broken, in bondage, sinful, less than, small, worthy of contempt. The followers of the One whose passion was the gift of abundant life, have opted for a story that portrays life as little more than a testing ground for some other life, some after-life, some place other than where we are now, a place to which we can escape the smallness of this life. But look around, taste and see that it is as our ancestors imagined our Creator declaring after each marvelous day in the Genesis of Creation, it is good, it is very good.
Human beings are in the words of Julian of Norwich, “not just made by God, we are made of God.”
We are in God and God is in us because we are made of God.
What’s more, this amazing Cosmos is not something separate or apart from us, we are in and of the Cosmos.
The Cosmos is in God and God is in the Cosmos.
This sacred communion of which we are a part is positively teeming with diversity.
There are no duplications, each precious part of the Cosmos is unique, each part intimately connected.
The sheer abundance of the Cosmos is beyond our comprehension and yet so very accessible if we but reach out and touch it, or open our eyes to see it, our open our arms to embrace it, or breathe deeply to draw life within it.
This gospel of abundance is so much bigger than the story we have chosen to tell.
Carefully studying the book that our Creator has written which we call the Universe, it is clear, in the words of Thomas Berry, that:
“Our challenge is to create a new language, even a new sense of what it is to be human.”
Embracing the abundant life that Jesus lived to proclaim, requires the faith to open ourselves to the splendor of the Cosmos of which we are an intricate part. The ongoing revelations provided by the Cosmos are clear for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
“God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation,” so said Francis Bacon. As our knowledge of creation expands, how will our relationship with these two books evolve?
As I contemplate the church’s celebration of the Reformation, I am struck by the wealth of information that can be summoned by my fingertips. Just as the invention of the printing press worked its own kind of magic on the Christian Church, the electronic media has propelled us into the Age of Information and Christianity is evolving. The impact of our expanding knowledge is changing the way we view reality and our place in it. As the religions of the world continue to evolve, we can begin to open ourselves to the wondrous possibilities of an entirely new understanding of reality. No history of the reformation that is happening all around us will be complete without the inclusion of our broadening understanding of our biological origins.