Sermon Notes for September 1, 2019
Fr Tony Vrame
I’m going solar, adding panels to my house. The economics work which is terrific. But also, I know I’m doing something good for the planet.
Today is the ecclesiastical new year. This beginning originates in the Byzantine times, when September 1 began a new fiscal year. The Church also adopted the practice and it worked since the cycle of Feasts begins in September, especially the Feast of the Nativity of Theotokos (our parish feast day) on 8 September. The story of our salvation unfolds.
In 1989, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios proclaimed Sept 1 and the Day for the Protection of the Environment. Patriarch Bartholomew continued this practice and continues to raise our awareness about environmental issues. He has been called the “Green Patriarch” for his leadership among religious leaders (and others) in the world.
He is quite outspoken, calling environmental destruction a sin. He has called all of us to repent for our actions harming the environment.
He has been especially focused on issues relating to water. With our proximity to the ocean and our church situated in an environmentally sensitive spot, we should be especially aware of environmental issues.
We as a community and area are also dependent on water for our livelihoods. I think of Ed and his business selling and servicing boats. I think of Nancy captaining a ship in Boston harbor. I’ve heard others among you talking about your boats, and your fishing trips.
But even if you are land-lubber like me… Water is a source of life. Without water we die. I’ve been watching the space shows lately, remembering the 50th anniversary of the moon landing of Apollo 11. The search for water on other planets in our solar system is paramount, because where there’s water there can be life (as we know it.)
Water is also a source of destruction and death. Today we are watching Hurricane Dorian. We know that the rain and floods will cause great harm.
Water is also a source of cleanliness. Who among us, after a hard day of work, hasn’t appreciate a good cleansing shower?!
All of this reminds us that the created world, the material world, is the stage on which our relationship with God occurs. We cannot think out way to salvation. It must take place in the created world. This means we must take much greater care of our world.
In his letter for September 1, Archbishop Elpidophoros wrote the following:
“Of course, we all recognize that we can no longer desecrate God’s creation, whose origin and destiny are inseparably identified with ourselves. What we refuse to do is take the next step that is required of us as priests of creation, which entails consecrating creation to the Creator. Avoiding desecration is only a partial response to the ecological crisis; accepting and advocating consecration is the fulfillment of our divine mandate to “serve and preserve the earth” (Gen. 1:15). Such a sanctification and offering to God of “His own of His own, on behalf of all and for the sake of all” (From the Divine Liturgy) also unleashes the transformative potential and restorative capacity of all creation for healing and wholeness. However, in order to heal the earth, we must purify our hearts and transform our habits. Every act of defilement on the body of creation is ultimately contempt for the Body of Christ. Whereas when we demonstrate respectful consideration for the earth’s natural resources, then we can also begin to discern the perspective of the kingdom “on earth as in heaven” (From the Lord’s Prayer).”
We can take steps as individuals and as a community to protect the natural world, to clean up the mess that we’ve made over the years. I’m going solar this fall. Each of us can take steps, from recycling to composting, to being careful about our environmental footprint.