September 19, 2021, Sky Sunday, by Pastor David
Psalm 19:1-6 The heavens herald your glory, O God, and the skies display your handiwork. Day after day they tell their story, and night after night they reveal the depth of their understanding. Without speech, without words, without even an audible voice, their cry echoes through all the world, and their message reaches the ends of the earth. For in the heavens the sun has pitched a tent. It comes forth with the grandeur of a wedding procession, with the eagerness of an athlete ready to race. It rises at one end of the sky and travels to the other end, and nothing escapes its warmth.
Let’s reflect on God’s gift of Creation - of the beauty of sky, moon, stars, rainbow, sunrise, sunset as a prayer of praise and wonder today.
September 19, 2021 Sky Sunday St. Luke
This bird flew straight down, corkscrewing out of the sky and dove into the water in the lake right next to where I was swimming. It came up for air and dove down again, not seeming to mind that I was standing 10 feet away with my mouth open. I swam over to get Cathy to look - this was in August when we were swimming at a little lake near her mother’s house. The bird stayed for long enough for her to walk around the lake as you see and try to get a picture.
I had been enjoying a new app on my phone all summer called Merlin. Did I tell you about it? It’s from Cornell University and it’s designed to have the phone listen to a bird call and tell you what the bird is. It also helps you identify birds from pictures. So I took the picture and the Merlin app suggested that the bird was an anhinga or snake bird, also known as a darter. It’s called a snake bird because it swims low in the water and its curved neck can look like a snake coming out of the water. It was a lovely encounter with nature and with the sky.
Really, we interact with the sky more often than we think we do. Think about it for a moment. In your meditation this morning, could you remember a sunset or a sunrise, some beautiful cloud formations or a rainbow? Did you see the full moon last night? Did you ever stop and just listen to raindrops on the roof of your tent or your car - or watch storm clouds rolling into your neighborhood with claps of thunder and shocks of lightning.
In my twenties I wanted to attend a gathering in the midwest and I hitchhiked from Philadelphia out to Kansas. I was amazed to see the sky in Kansas from the side of the road. You could see forever! The land is so flat, you could see storms far in the distance in three of four directions at once! Have you ever seen that? in Montana or Oklahoma? scary and beautiful at the same time.
We pay attention to the sky more than we think we do, but we pay attention way less than the ancients did. I saw a part of a PBS show a few weeks ago where they compared ancient civilizations - all of which looked at the evidence they had before telescopes and concluded the earth was flat. They paid careful attention to the sky - not just for crop cultivation, but for seasons and predictions, for messages from their gods. The sky and the mountains was where God existed for them. They built careful temples for observation at Stonehenge in England, in Mexico, in Egypt. All around the world, the skys helped people understand our place in the universe.
And now we are sending untrained civilians into space to see first hand the beauty of the earth that is round and not the center of the universe. We know more than we ever knew, and pay less attention to what we know. We take all that knowledge for granted.
I’m talking about this because it is of critical importance now that we hear what God is saying about this. I had a meeting with a staff representative of Senator Casey this week. A group of people who are really concerned about climate change wanted to encourage the senator to be sure that money to mitigate climate change gets into the reconciliation budget bill. Bishop Royster and Dan Walk, who spoke here at St. Luke a few years ago were on the call.
And there was an eloquent man by the name of Keon who works for the railroads and is part of the union. He talked about how in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the railroad tunnels were completely filled with water. He said this is not usual. We need to pay attention and do something about the increasing frequency and danger of weather emergencies.
I was the last one to speak. Everybody had been making their case, giving examples, begging the senator to pay attention to climate change and do the right thing that everybody knows needs to happen. When it got to me, I said that I didn’t have anything to add about the disasters and that in fact I know from work that there is plenty of disagreement about what needs to happen and how to pay for the mitigation of the problems.
I asked him to listen to the people, but then to take leadership and be courageous. I asked him to listen to our children and listen to coming generations that we can hear from the future asking us to do something. I asked him to listen to the sky, and to the waters; listen to the storms and the wildfires. Listen to God’s creation.
Listen to Psalm 19 again: “The heavens herald your glory, O God, and the skies display your handiwork. Day after day they tell their story, and night after night they reveal the depth of their understanding. Without speech, without words, without even an audible voice, their cry echoes through all the world, and their message reaches the ends of the earth. For in the heavens the sun has pitched a tent. It comes forth with the grandeur of a wedding procession, with the eagerness of an athlete ready to race. It rises at one end of the sky and travels to the other end, and nothing escapes its warmth.”
38 This is glorious poetry about the glory of God’s presence in creation. CS Lewis called it the “greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” I love how the psalm talks about the voice of creation telling its story day by day, nightly revealing it’s depth. Creation speaks this story silently: “without speech, without words, without even an audible voice, their cry echoes throughout the world.”
If we listened to the silence of creation, like the silence of the shooting star, or the glory of a fall full moon, what would we hear? What if we listen to the hurricane and the heat and the humidity and the drought? Is there a message in that from creation?
The earth is speaking loud and clear without words or audible voice, saying that the warming of the earth is dangerous and it’s time to pay attention. It may seem beyond us, but it seems to me we might at least listen.
I’m not counting on our elected officials, but we can try to get them to listen too. I look to God the creator of the earth and sky and trust that with God’s help we will find a way to live out real faith that honors the earth, and cares for the breathing of all creatures. In the Bible we experience the beauty of the sky. We hear angels from the sky and a star announcing the birth of the Messiah, who will bring change ways we didn’t expect and may even resist. The sky and heavens were torn apart of Jesus’ baptism, and rent asunder at the crucifixion - as a sign, as a call for humanity to ally itself once again with the God of Creation, the One who gave us every gift of sun and moon, the shooting stars on a cool night, and love for each other that makes all the difference in the world.
Responsive Hymn: 2059 I Am Your Mother