The Rev. Dianne O’Connell     

First Congregational Church

October 10, 2010

Genesis 1:24-31

Psalm 104:10-25

Matthew 6:25-33

 

CREATION:  Ya Gotta Love It!

(Children’s Sermon)

Good morning.  Thank you for teaching us the Joseph Song.  IT”S IMPORTANT FOR FAMILIES TO FORGIVE EACH OTHER AND TO HELP EACH OTHER WHEN THEY GET IN TROUBLE.  The Children’s message is going to be a little longer this morning than usual, so I brought a little bit of a picnic for you – grapes and little fish crackers. 

What is Creation?                                                   (wait for some answers)

The Bible lesson that Mr. Kachline just read was about God creating the world and everything in it.  So Creation is what God made, the earth, the world, the universe. Everything - the earth and the sky and the birds, and the squirrels.

In the Genesis story, God said, Let the land produce living creatures – cows, horses, wild animals.  And God saw that it was good.”

Then God made man and woman and plants, and birds, and fish, and all creatures, and God saw all that he had made and it was very good. Everything was good.

Now God created the world and the universe, but we really don’t know how God did it or how it all evolved, philosophers and scientists are still working to figure that all out -- but that’s not the major point of our story this morning.

For me, the major point is that God said “It’s all good.”  Creation is good. All that’s in Creation is good. And God also said, “People! It’s your job to take care of this Creation.  All of it.” Prince William Sound.  The Gulf of Mexico.  Our backyards. Our parks. All of it.

The Bible actually uses the word “dominion” in Genesis, which is unfortunate.  Other places it uses the word “stewardship”.  Those are pretty complicated words. Dominion means that someone has control over something. That they can do whatever they want to it.  Stewardship means someone has the responsibility for taking care of something.  They can use it, but they have to use it carefully. How to you think God wants us human beings to take care of the earth? 

(conservation ideas)

How many of you have a pet?

(dogs, cats, etc.)
           

Are your pets part of God’s creation?

Have you ever heard of St. Francis?  Do you know what a saint is?  It is a very good person who does his or her best to do what God would want them to do.  Some churches single out just a few people and call them saints.  We believe in the Sainthood of All Believers.  We can all be saints, we can all be good people trying to do our best.

Well, Saint Francis was a very good man who had a lot of money. He lived about 830 years ago in Italy.  He decided to give away all his money and live as cheaply as possible.  He spent most of his time building churches and talking to people about living simple lives.  He was particularly well-known for his love of the out-of-doors and his love for animals.  Every October, in fact, some churches hold a blessing of the animals in his memory, and in a few minutes we’re going to do something similar.

Many of the stories about St. Francis deal with his love for animals. It is said that, one day, while Francis was traveling with some companions, they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to "wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds.” The birds surrounded him, drawn by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. Francis spoke to them.

“My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky … God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore... always seek to praise God.”

Part of his appreciation of the environment is expressed in his Canticle of the Sun, which expresses a love and appreciation of Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Mother Earth, Brother Fire, etc.   He preached to people and to animals the duty of all creatures to praise God and the duty of humans to protect and enjoy nature as stewards of God's creation.

Legend has it that St. Francis on his deathbed thanked his donkey for carrying and helping him throughout his life, and blessed him.  Today we are going to thank our pets for being our friends and companions and ask God’s blessing for them, too.

Did you bring some pictures of your pets this morning?  Good.  Some of the adults brought pictures of their pets, too, which we will collect in a minute

Let us pray:  God we thank you for our companions and friends, both people and animals.  We give special thanks for these particular dogs and cats and ask your special blessing for each of them and their owners.  May we all be a little like Saint Francis and praise your creation day and night.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

                                                                            Send kids back to seats.

Anthem – while cards and pictures are being collected by the ushers.

Prayers of the People and Blessing of the Animals 

Do we have prayer requests that we would like to offer at this time? 

Prayers of joy?
Prayers  of concern?

Let us pray:  Lord God we come to you this morning with our hearts full of joys and concerns. We ask your blessing and healing power for those among us who are facing illness and other challenges of life. We give you thanks for the good things in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones. Lord, hear our individual prayers as we bring them to you in silence.

90 seconds silent prayer

O God of all Creation:  In the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi, whose life and work we honor during October, we give you thanks for all the gifts you have given us.

Lord, we thank you for our human families, our brothers and sisters, the children entrusted to our care, but we also thank you for all creation, for Brother Sun and Sister Moon, the stars and the planets.

We thank you for wind and cloud, rain and sun; for water to drink to play in, to bath in and for baptism.  Lord we thank you for fire that gives us light in darkness and warmth. We thank you Lord for Mother Earth who feeds us and protects us.  We thank you for the flowers, the trees, grass and bushes.

Lord we thank you for our companions, especially today our animal companions, whose care you have entrusted to us.  They bring us joy, they calm us, they make us laugh, and keep us safe.  We thank you Lord for all animals on the earth, for the fish and birds that give us food, help us with our work.  We ask a special blessing for the pets brought before us today:

                                       (Show pictures and read off names of pets offered by the congregation)

Help us to be good stewards of your creation and continually find joy and wonder in all yours works. These things we ask in the name of your Son, Christ our Lord. Amen.

Choral Response

Invitation to Giving                

O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer, may we strive to ever grow in generosity as we share our time, our talent, and our tithes as a reflection of our gratitude for your gifts and your love.  In your holy name, we pray.  Amen.

Offeratory                             

Doxology

Dedication of Gifts       

Hymn of Dedication               "All Creatures of Our God and King"                            #22  

Adult Moment:                       Creation:  Ya Gotta Love It!”

I haven’t got a lot more to say.  I am reminded that our Lord said to us in Mark: “Go into the world and preach the good news to all Creation.”  He could have said, Go into the world and preach the good news to all people, but he didn’t, he said, All Creation.

And I’m also reminded that Saint Francis was not alone. In the Native American tradition, humanity has always communicated with the Creator through interaction with nature; the birds, the forest, the animals.  Here in Alaska, regardless of our ethnic heritage, many of us do the same thing. 

I could preach a sermon with more specifics about conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources and reducing carbon footprints – but you can fill in those blanks yourselves.  The message this morning is simple –praise God for the gift of creation, praise God for our companions and loved ones, both two-footed and four-footed, praise God everywhere and praise God all the time. The rest will reveal itself along the way. Amen.

Communion Invitation

Today I see not just human beings, but all of Creation  gathered around this table. We are here to proclaim our membership in the Family of God, our brother and sisterhood with Jesus Christ, our oneness with all God’s Creation.  This table is set for all those who seek the presence of God in their lives. All persons from all faith traditions are welcome.

When the bread is served, please hold it until all are served.  We will eat together as a symbol of our unity.  When the cup is passed, please drink individually, as a symbol of our individual relationship with God.

Hymn                                      “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ”           No. 422

Words of Institution  

The Lord Jesus, on the night before his arrest, Jesus and his friends shared dinner together and talked about the events of the past week and those events yet to come.  The Lord sensed uncertainty and concern among the disciples.

Following the meal, he took a loaf of  bread,
and after giving thanks to God,
he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying
:

Take, eat.
This is my body, given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way he took a cup of wine, saying:
This is the cup of the new covenant sealed in my blood,
shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
When you drink of it,
do so in remembrance of me.

Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup,
you proclaim the saving death of the risen Lord,
until he comes again.

The gifts of God for the people of God.

Closing Prayer

We give thanks, O God, for our families, our companions, and our church community. You have never failed us on our journey.  You have refreshed us at your table, touched our deepest needs, and called us to a life shared in memory and hope.  Send us forth with courage and joy in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Hymn of Commitment           "God of the Sparrow, God of the Whale"                       #70     

Benediction

Go as instruments of God’s peace. Where there is

hatred, sow love; where there is injury, pardon;

where there is discord; union; where there is doubt,

faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is

darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power

of the Holy Spirit which is everywhere and in all things.

 Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen

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