In the audio podcast of this service, the Scripture Reading starts at 30 min 20 secs: Genesis 9:8-17
The Sermon starts at 32 min 00 secs. “Building a 21st Century Ark”
Baptism is a dangerous business! Sure, I realize that most of the time we want the baptism of the cute and cuddly baby to help us feel safe in God’s love. And that’s important! Often moms dress their cherished child in a white christening gown to symbo-lize the beauty of Jesus’ forgiving love. But baptism is also dangerous. The Eastern Orthodox church symbolizes this by taking the whole baby and dunking her underwater in a big baptismal tank. And so instead of cooing happily the baby comes up sputtering and crying! The church’s version of waterboarding. They do this because baptism reminds us not only of water’s constructive cleansing abilities, but also of its destructive drowning abilities, like Noah’s flood. Symbolizing the flood, God wants the baptism waters to show our need to die to sin so that the rest of creation can live. For Noah’s tale is an ecological story that calls us to build a 21st century ark for human babies and hyena babies, but how?
Yet not all Christian leaders agree. Jerry Falwell claims… This reflects our traditional view of God’s covenant as man-centered. Like verse 9 God promises to love ME in baptism. But it continues in verse 10… This leads to the belief that God’s covenant of baptism is both for me and for creation! And that Tyler is called to live more selflessly for all creation. As Richard Cizik, known as the Green evangelist, says…
In the traditional man centered covenant WWJD means?… In the more biblical creation included covenant this means?… That’s why when Rev. Sita Hofstra visited us from the Netherlands last year, and we were following a pastor to a meeting, she said, “My people would consider that a sin.” What? I asked. “A preacher driving an SUV.” Oh.
So in our old man-centered theology we said, It’s my land and I’ll do with it whatever I want! Even if that meant chopping down trees for a shed because we have too much stuff. In the new, but really original, creation-included covenant we say, It’s God’s land, and I am just managing it for the good of creation. So we may plant trees instead.
Former Senator Gary Hart states, Of our $500 billion military budget…half goes to protect oil supplies. If that’s true then its baptism at its laziest. Don’t inconvenience me because God loves ME. That’s why Jim Wallis envisions a more dangerous baptism to deny self for the good of all God’s creatures when he calls us to green energy in saying:
Wouldn’t [energy transformation] be better than more destruction…?
So what’s a good baptized Christian to do? Live dangerously. Since a safe and secure Me-centered baptism has endangered God’s wonderful handiwork, Heaven’s artist calls us to deny ourselves in a creation-included covenant so that all can live. How do we do that? Build a 21st century ark by making room for God’s bees and birchtrees.
How do we build a 21st century version of the ark? Let’s make room for creation in our relationship with God by giving up one energy consuming practice for Lent. How about pledging to turn out lights when we don’t need them. Did you know that Pastor Mark hardly ever has his office light on? And that Bridgewater-Raritan school district has cut its energy consumption by 10% and saved $300,000 by challenging kids to turn off lights and computers? In that spirit here is what I’ll give up for our Creator for Lent: I’ll pledge to leave my computer desk light off because the penguins need their polar icecap more than I need my coal-produced electric light. What will you do? And, if I stub my toe in a darker office? Well, baptism is a dangerous thing! Amen.
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