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4/21/24 Sermon

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Genesis 1:9-13

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.


Genesis 1:9-13 – J. Philip Newell version:

On the third day God said, “Let the firm earth appear.” So the wind gathered together the waters of life. The waters were oceans and the dry land  was earth. The wind blew over its dark soil. Earth grew green. Flowers in their freshness opened. Colour and goodness burst forth from the earth. Young bushes budded. Trees were heavy with fruit and earth’s seed was strong. God saw that it was good. And there was evening and morning, creation’s third day. 


Philippians 4:11-13

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

11 Not that I am referring to being in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through The One who strengthens me.


Mozart, for Example, Mary Oliver, Thirst

All the quick notes

Mozart didn’t have time to use

before he entered the cloud-boat

are falling now from the beaks

of the finches

that have gathered from the joyous summer

into the hard winter

and, like Mozart, they speak of nothing

but light and delight,

though it is true, the heavy blades of the world

are still pounding underneath.

And this is what you can do too, maybe,

if you live simply and with a lyrical heart

in the cumbered neighborhoods or even,

as Mozart sometimes managed to, in a palace,

offering tune after tune after tune,

making some hard-hearted prince

prudent and kind, just by being happy.

What did you notice this morning on your way to church? On your walk? Out your window? I saw dirt in Sally’s flower gardens, and I saw shoots of green flower stems. I saw the apple trees in the back yard and the bluebird perched on a fence post. My morning walk takes me past Flanders Stream. Maybe you pass by the ocean, or a lake or pond, or standing water in the fields – the same fields bursting with Spring Peepers each evening this week. Dirt. Trees. Flowers. Birds. Water. It is all good!

This country has been celebrating Earth Day since 1970. Over fifty years. It is a day for education and for action. It is a day for new beginnings. What we do on Earth Day or for Earth Day we can do the other 364 days as well. 

Like any journey it starts with the first steps. 

It helps to be in love with that for which we are responsible. Caring for the earth is a blessing and a privilege, not simply a chore or responsibility. 

It helps to be kind. Be kind to the earth and to one another. Remember always that we are in a sacred relationship with the created world. And humbly remember, or realize, our Mother Earth can survive without us, but we cannot survive without her. 

It is not too late to start changing our ways, to keep improving our relationship with the environment. 

Back in the 1970’s, in the early days of recycling, we had the 3R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. 

Wanting to make even more of an impact, in the 1980’s or 1990’s our mantra developed into the 4R’s: reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle.

It was a good progression and we are still striving to minimize the ways in which we impact the environment. A quick internet search introduced me to the 7R’s of recycling, movement toward a zero-waste lifestyle. Rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, regift, and recycle. We can do this in our personal lives, here at church, and where we work. 

All good, right? Thinking about those 7R’s, thinking about our lives, I believe the most difficult one to consistently do is to refuse. I also think it can have the greatest impact. In order to improve our environment, we all must refuse to buy things we do not need. In the language of bumper sticker wisdom, “Live simply that others may simply live.” Our decisions impact the impoverished and disenfranchised first of all and most of all. Say no to excess product and excess packaging. That in turn improves the quality of life for those already feeling the devastating effects of climate change and minimizes the need for all the R’s that follow.

Where do I, where do you, where do we find inspiration to care for our Mother Earth? 

We read the Bible, poetry, essays, short stories; the literature of creation. The Bible has much to say about caring for all that God declared good. The Green Bible… I am just becoming familiar with this book, which prints in green all the passages that speak of Creation, and the ways that we are to partner with God for its care. 

For me, the Poets, especially Mary Oliver, help me to believe that we can change the world, affect the world positively, by being influenced by the light and delight which is all around us. 

Wendell Berry… the self-proclaimed “mad farmer” also gives me hope. In his poem, “Amish Economy,” he writes about his friend David. “Loving God, loving one another, / To keep Creation’s neighborhood.” The poem ends with praise for a person, a life that has, “Worked much, spent little, kept his peace.” I pray that we will keep in mind each day the importance of caring for Creation’s neighborhood while loving God and loving one another. 

We find inspiration in The Visual Artists – William Moise… We do not have to look any further than our sanctuary for an artist that honored nature through his work. Renata has graciously agreed to hang her father’s paintings here, bringing the outside, bringing creation, into our church.  

We are enlightened by listening to music, be it Mozart or our songbirds. The thrush, the sparrows, the robins, the finches; they are a sound of creation. What music elevates your mood as if you are immersed in nature? Which of your favorites raise your awareness of the fragility of nature, and of the social and environmental challenges we face?  

What about you? What inspires you to care for our Mother Earth? (invite congregation to share…)

Taking action is critical to caring for creation. We are learning how to do that, as a church.

This congregation has applied to participate in a retreat in Winter Harbor titled, “Claiming Your Call for a Climate-Changed World.” We won’t know until May 1st if we are selected to participate in the program sponsored by The BTS Center but the application process has us talking, and thinking, and planning for positive change. A few people helped me with the application process. Here are some of the things that they identified that we are doing in support of our Mother Earth. 

At our Church Fair, the plant sale focuses on local, native to our region plantings to help support sustainable and healthy biodiversity. 

Members planted and maintain a beautiful flower garden here at church.

In our kitchen we use recycled paper containers. We reuse disposable items when able, such as aluminum foil. We help the environment by using real coffee cups instead of paper or foam and real plates and utensils instead of paper or plastic.

We share rides to church and community events that help in lowering carbon footprints. Some in our congregation have electric or hybrid cars, some use non-motorized transportation when possible, some have or are installing solar panels or investing in solar field memberships. 

We have upgraded our heating system from solar to natural gas, our roof from asphalt to metal, and replaced our fluorescent light fixtures with more efficient LED’s. 

We are active in maintaining local land trust trails. We organize and assist in road and stream and shoreline cleanup events.

There are actions we are inspired to explore or begin by taking simple but deliberate steps to make changes. 

Hancock and Sullivan already have community gardens and we are dreaming of creating another with our Golden Acres members and friends. 

We are reaching out to area farmers and offering to host a Farmer’s Market in our parking lot across the street. 

We have a suggestion to set up a compost bin behind the church to move the church towards “zero waste”.

We endeavor to pay attention to, and be involved in, the political decisions that can sustain, or destroy creation. We can participate in activities, events, and be committed to being informed citizens of this beautifully created place we call home. 

What are you inspired to do for Earth Day, for every day? (invite congregation to share…)


Rev. TJ Mack – April 21, 2024


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