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At St. Paul’s: “Our primary mission is to relate to, and minister to people who are living on the edge, who seek God’s will for their lives, struggling to find direction and purpose in a society that can be violent, insensitive and money-grabbing.”
Some would say that serving in the military is the ultimate sacrifice. Certainly the police/
fire department or other places where your life is on the line is also a brave thing. Some
folks are better at it than others. It is a blessing that people are willing. As we have
all heard the metaphor, it goes something like: Freedom isn’t free. Someone will pay
the price. They gave their life so we can have our lifestyles. My brother, Bruce, paid a
price. He didn’t want to die, he didn’t want to be there, but he was willing to go that
way because he was serving a higher cause: what he believed to be the Life of his fellow
Flag day for me is like Memorial Day. I remember those who served our country, all
the way back to Betsy Ross and George Washington. And I will always respect a person
who volunteers to give her or his life so that others might live. I will always respect
police officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizens of this
city. I know and work with many good officers and detectives. And because of my
Marine training, I know that training is essential for a system to work correctly. As you
probably have heard, the county is prosecuting some of those officers who went off
protocol on November 29, 2012 and chased two unarmed civilians around the city for
25 minutes and fired 137 bullets into their dead bodies at the end. Probably 134 more
than it took to kill them. It will be a high profile trial, and the whole police department
is on trial really. The state attorney general pronounced the CPD out of control. And
now this trial is going to be on the front page for the whole city to watch. Justice will not
be denied. Freedom has a price.
This trial brings a certain amount of tension to our city. It cannot be ignored. It should
not be ignored, nor can it be swept under a rug. I believe we must live in this tension
until justice is served and those officers have their day in court and the families of the
deceased have their day in court.
So on flag day we want to remember to honor the flag and the reason why our leaders
instituted flag day to begin with. Sacrifice, leadership, making the world a better place. I
was thinking of my brother, my dad, Uncle Dave, and some former Marine buddies that
I know of who have passed. Also, I think of Jesus. I think of the disciples, who all died in
service of their faith. I think of Bishop Oscar Romero, JFK, John Lennon, and others who
put their words into action. I think of Dr. King, who knew, and preached about how his
life would be cut short. I think of priests, nuns and monastics who have chosen to exit
society in order to enter a cloistered world and devote their lives to serving God and
In this line of reasoning, I would imagine that you and I might think and feel that it
seems natural and correct that, in order to make the world a better place, a person
needs to make huge sacrifices for God and for others. After all, we are created in the
image of God, doesn’t that mean we have moral obligation to imitate God; not to be like
other men and women, but to be like Jesus? To go to the cross like Jesus did?
But we cannot be Jesus. We cannot become God . . . we are mortal. We are visible and
weak and isolated and tend to try to do it all ourselves. We give our lives as best we are
able. We make ourselves available in our own way so that God can use us. We are part
of the creative process if we become servants.
And so this passage from Genesis today gives us a real opportunity to take a look at
the story of the created order. We see the loving care God had for Creation . . . as if it
were God’s beloved child. Not to destroy but live in harmony. Not divert, diminish or
demolish but defend nature and the cycle of life.
This story of origin in Genesis 1 calls us to reflect on a set of particular cultural and
communal values, those of the people of Israel who were alive at the time, but living
in exile from their homeland in the 6th
taken the people of Israel captive, as slaves and prisoners of war. They had to ask each
other if they had forgotten where they came from. And so their leaders wrote this story
down, after maybe centuries of telling it orally. We have similar stories.
Flag Day, memorial day, labor day. Our country has stories that carry us through tough
times. These are national stories. Genesis is the story of our Hebrew/Christian roots.
What does it mean to have this story. To tell it as if it were our own. Lets look at the
important pieces of it. Creation is good. God is very satisfied. Perhaps we would be
more willing to care for the earth, as well as to strengthen and invest in the public good,
in great institutions, and in a wonderful legacy to our heirs, just as our ancestors did
century before Christ. The Babylonian army had
We have, it seems, too easily, fallen into thinking of ourselves as being in charge of
creation, as if it had been given to us for our own purposes, to use up as we see fit,
rather than to care for it, to use sparingly and restoratively. It is kind of like a credit card,
and because of our addiction to things, we think that our line of credit just continues to
grow as we use the card. When in actuality, we grow further and further into debt.
God has given us "dominion" over creation, and yet "dominion" does not mean “use as
you see fit . . . it means "to have responsibility for the care of" something. That would
mean, use as God sees fit. Professor, Dr. Walter Breuggeman, says that the Creator has
a powerful purpose for creation. Creation is not a careless, casual, or accidental matter.
It has beauty and it is obedient. God speaks and thus creates, and creation listens and
answers. “God calls the world into being.” The grace of God is that the creature whom
God has caused to be, God now let’s be.
And so of course, the creature puts a completely different spin on things. We have often
acted out of that sense of entitlement rather than out of responsibility, especially to
God and to our great-great-great grandchildren. Maybe we feel as if we are entitled to
our share, that others have theirs so we want ours; and so we spend our days grabbing
and hustling and searching for even a little small change when there is most definitely
more to bring up to the surface.
And while our money-grabbing, water-grabbing and oil-grabbing political leaders
distract you with economic chaos and lack of jobs and lack of access to education,
we get so caught up in the dysfunction of the system that we will be neglecting those
who have no voice in the system; we will be leaving out the folks who are poor and
marginalized, who often suffer the effects right here and now of our water, air pollution
and over-consumption. (Here, the words "freedom with responsibility" bear repeating.
We usually prefer just freedom, and not too much emphasis on the responsibility.)
And we need to be reminded by our creation story, and everyone’s creation story, that life
as a gift. We are entitled to nothing except ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We are God’s and
everything we have is passing through our hands on the way back to the creator. And yet
it is beautiful and awesome and fragile and requires our attention.
Also, let me say this about the day of rest. The Sabbath discloses something about the
God of Israel. The God of Israel doesn’t spend the 6 days of the week working to threaten
or coerce God’s creatures, but offers the faithful invitation to be a part of creating
the kingdom. And each time God steps back to admire what has happened, God sees
goodness. And so the lesson is this: God doesn’t spend the 7th
day in exhaustion but in
serenity and peace. In contrast to the gods of Babylon, who are busy making war on the
nations surrounding their people; this God is not anxious, this God does not covet thy
neighbors items, wives, life, but is at ease with the right-ness and beauty and well being
of created order.
So on this, the day of rest, all will rest equally, regardless of wealth, power or need. It’s a
good day to honor Fathers, this day. Honor the Father of Jesus, God of all creation. The
God of all creation stories.
Perhaps centering prayer could help us. Perhaps our spiritual disciplines will bring us
more serenity and peace. And bring us into conscious contact with our creator.
Perhaps, knowing that we have immortal, invisible, God only wise; we can start be
feeling a bit more blessed. Creation itself is lifegiving, says Breuggemann, in the image
of God who gives all life. Creation is also lovely, pleasing, beautiful and is so satisfactory
to God, that God is delighted in what God has wrought. And God rests on the 7th
because it is the end of the week, but because God is thoroughly satisfied with the quality
of God’s creation.
And so God speaks and creation comes to life. God proclaims the goodness of
creation and we listen and it does not stay in our ears but leaps from our lips. It
becomes a doxology. Praise God from whom all blessings flow Praise God,
all creatures here below. We thank You, God; our lives are yours. In all the
world may your peace endure.
Keller George, Wolf Clan Member of the
Nation's Council, relates the following story
his maternal great-grandmother told to him
about the birth of the Evil Spirit and the
Long, long ago, the earth was deep
beneath the water. There was a great
darkness because no sun or moon or stars
The only creatures living in this dark world were water animals such as the beaver, muskrat,
duck and loon. Far above the water-covered earth was the Land of the Happy Spirits, where
the Great Spirit dwelled. In the center of this upper realm was a giant apple tree with roots that
sank deep into the ground.
One day the Great Spirit pulled the tree up from its roots creating a pit in the ground. The
Great Spirit called to his daughter, who lived in the Upper World. He commanded her to look
into the pit. The woman did as she was told and peered through the hole. In the distance, she
saw the Lower World covered by water and clouds.
The Great Spirit spoke to his daughter, telling her to go into the world of darkness. He then
tenderly picked her up and dropped her into the hole. The woman, who would be called Sky
Woman by those creatures watching her fall, began to slowly float downward.
As Sky Woman continued her descent, the water animals looked up. Far above them they saw
a great light that was Sky Woman. The animals were initially afraid because of the light
emanating from her. In their fear, they dove deep beneath the water.
The animals eventually conquered their fear and came back up to the surface. Now they were
concerned about the woman, and what would happen to her when she reached the water.
The beaver told the others that they must find a dry place for her to rest upon. The beaver
plunged deep beneath the water in search of earth. He was unsuccessful. After a time, his
dead body surfaced to the top of the water.
The loon was the next creature to try to find some earth. He, too, was unsuccessful. Many
others tried, but each animal failed. At last, the muskrat said he would try. When his dead body
floated to the top, his little claws were clenched tight. The others opened his claws and found a
little bit of earth.
The water animals summoned a great turtle and patted the earth upon its back. At once the
turtle grew and grew, as did the amount of earth. This earth became North America, a great
During all this time, Sky Woman continued her gentle fall. The leader of the swans grew
concerned as Sky Woman's approach grew imminent. He gathered a flock of swans that flew
upward and allowed Sky Woman to rest upon their back. With great care, they placed her
upon the newly formed earth. Soon after her arrival, Sky Woman gave birth to twins. The first
born became known as the Good Spirit. The other twin caused his mother so much pain that
she died during his birth. He was to be known as the Evil Spirit.
The Good Spirit took his mother's head and hung it in the sky, and it became the sun. The
Good Spirit also fashioned the stars and moon from his mother's body. He buried the
remaining parts of Sky Woman under the earth. Thus, living things may always find
nourishment from the soil for it springs from Mother Earth.
While the Good Spirit provided light, the Evil Spirit created the darkness. The Good Spirit
created many things, but each time his brother would attempt to undo his good work. The
Good Spirit made the tall and beautiful trees, including the pines and hemlock. The Evil Spirit,
to be contrary, stunted some trees or put gnarls and knots in their trunks. Other trees he
covered in thorns or poisoned their fruit. The Good Spirit made bear and deer. The Evil Spirit
made poisonous animals such as lizards and serpents to destroy the animals created by his
When the Good Spirit made springs and streams of pure crystal water, the Evil Spirit poisoned
some and placed snakes in others. The Good Spirit made beautiful rivers. The Evil Spirit
pushed rocks and dirt into the rivers creating swift and dangerous currents. Everything the
Good Spirit made his wicked brother attempted to destroy.
After the Good Spirit completed the earth, he created man out of red clay. Placing the man
upon the earth, the Good Spirit instructed the man about how he should live. The Evil Spirit
made a monkey from sea foam.
Upon completion of his work, the Good Spirit bestowed a protecting spirit upon all of his
creations. This done, he called his brother and told him he must cease making trouble. The
Evil Spirit emphatically refused. The Good Spirit became enraged at his brother's wickedness.
He challenged his evil twin to combat. The winner would become the ruler of the world.
For their weapons they used the thorns of the giant apple tree. The battle raged for many
days. The Good Spirit triumphed, overcoming his evil brother. The Good Spirit took his place
as ruler of the earth and banished his brother to a dark cave under the ground. In this cave the
Evil Spirit was to remain. The Evil Spirit, however, has wicked servants who do his bidding
and roam upon the earth. The wicked spirits are able to take any form and cause men to do
This is the reason that everyone has both a good heart and a bad heart. Regardless of how
good a man is, he still possesses some evil. The reverse also is true. For however evil a man
may be, he still has some good qualities. No man is perfect.
The Good Spirit continues to create and protect mankind. It is the Good Spirit who controls the
spirits of good men upon their death. His wicked brother takes possession of the souls of those
who are evil like himself. And so it remains.