DATE: October 7, 2019
Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.
TEXT: 1 Genesis 3: 17b – 19 – ESV - cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 9 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,
Last year a scientist, Robin Wall Kimmerer, spoke at Union Theological Seminary.
She concluded her lecture by encouraging staff and student body, indeed, all faith communities to develop new liturgies. And what should those new liturgies do? She told them that, too. She told them those new liturgies should mourn, grieve, heal and change how we are respond to the climate emergency.”
Having heard the encouragement one student from Union Theological Seminary responded, “We couldn’t be prouder to participate in this work.”
And so it came to pass that new liturgies were developed.
Which is how, last month, one of our Daily Devotioners sent me a photo and a news article from Union Theological. It showed a bunch of plants in the front of their chapel. Standing in front of those plant was a student. The picture was accompanied by an explanation which said,
“Today in chapel, we confessed to plants. Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor.”
Then the article asked, “What do you confess to the plants in your life?”
On Wednesday, after receiving a fair amount of derisive feedback, the seminary sent out a flurry of tweets defending its actions.
“So, if you’re poking fun, we’d ask only that you also spend a couple moments asking: Do I treat plants and animals as divinely created beings?” another tweet proposed in its ecological examination of conscience. “What harm do I cause without thinking? How can I enter into new relationship with the natural world?”
That’s the kind of question which seems consistent with the seminary’s approach to the Christian faith. As they say, “Grounded in the Christian tradition and responsive to the needs of God’s creation, a Union education prepares its students for committed lives of service to the church, academy, and society.”
That’s a long way from alone by grace, by faith by Scripture.
As Speaker for Lutheran Hour I traveled the globe and experienced all kinds of liturgies. Thinking back I can’t remember making any confessions to plants...and I would have remembered.
Now there is no doubt we need to make confessions.
The Lord told our original ancestors to take care of this world and we have failed miserably. But it is not the world that can forgive us. It is the Triune God... and the Father has sent a Savior to offer up Himself so we might be forgiven.
It is against Him that our sins are directed....it is toward Him our confession should be made. A confession to the Creator not His creation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that I may confess my sins to You. Then, forgiven, may I glorify you in every aspect of my life...including how I live in this world You have given. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The devotion for today was inspired by various recent news articles. For further reading you may wish to go to this address: https://www.breitbart.com/environment/2019/09/18/union-theological-seminary-holds-confession-to-plants-in-chapel-ceremony/ and the article written by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D..
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann. He along with three of his brothers perform on the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html