It is now clear that the generations alive today are being called to undertake the greatest heroic struggle in human history. As with all classic hero’s journeys, the most daunting obstacles to overcome are within our hearts and minds. (If you did not see last week’s notes relating to climate change, click here for the background.) We now know that it is almost certain that more catastrophic impacts will be arriving shortly–and we see them already starting.
We know what we have to do to save human civilization and prevent humans from becoming extinct along with the vast majority of other living species. We have the technology, plans and leadership to succeed. All we lack is the collective consciousness and perspective that we need in order to have the will to make the enormous changes and sacrifices we must, and to demand that our government and corporations take immediate action. The good news is that more people every day are awakening to that new level of consciousness, and the church can play a crucial role in speeding the transition.
Jesus taught us the way, he gave us the vision of how we need to live in order to sustain life on this planet without destroying ourselves. It is right there in the Bible that we have been reading all our lives. We see it plainly in this week’s Gospel story where two of the disciples are following the path of our dominant culture. They are ambitiously, greedily maneuvering to gain the highest place of pride and power. The other disciples catch wind of it and competition and conflict break out. Follow this path far enough and you arrive at the environmental emergency and violent, unjust world we inhabit today.
Jesus sits them down and says they need to give up that whole way of looking at the world, they need a whole new consciousness that sees we are all one, everyone and everything on earth, and that our right relationship to one another is humble love and lowly, compassionate service and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. The only way we will have health and peace and well-being for all is if we change our definition of success so that the greatness we seek is the greatness Christ taught and modeled, to lay down our lives for one another out of love, especially for the stranger or the enemy or the person or creature considered lowest and least.
Follow the path of a society ruled by the laws of Christ-like love and you reach not the world we are in now, but the realm of God on earth–what an upcoming book calls a “golden civilization.” The climate and all ecosystems are healthy because they are loved and valued and recognized as being one and interdependent. Racism, poverty, economic inequity, war, refugees, social and political polarization, undemocratic forms of government–all these civilization-threatening problems are almost nonexistent because the root cause of them has been removed: now all people feel respected and recognized as being one with all others. The measure of individual success is how we sacrifice and serve and give so that others may have fullness of life, and the measure of a society’s success is the well being of the people and places that today are treated the worst. In other words, the values that Jesus taught are embraced and discovered to be the secret to sustainable and flourishing life on earth.
We have the map and resources we need for this hero’s journey to save the world, and we are the only people who can do the task–we cannot leave it to anyone else today or after us. We all need to work together in order to have the wisdom, will power and strength to pull it off. We will explore more fully what this means during the service and we will find hope, encouragement and direction for the journey.
We will read from Psalm 91 and Isaiah 53:4-12 and Mark 10:35-45. We will sing the old favorite, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” plus a new favorite in many churches, the beautiful, “Won’t You Let Me Be Your Servant?” We will also sing a new hymn set to the old tune, Stuttgart, “Christ Gives Us a Way and Vision.”
The choir will sing the Civil Rights Movement adapted spiritual, “Woke Up This Morning,” plus a choral benediction that our choir has sung off and on for over thirty years, “We Are One in the Spirit/They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love.” The anthem will be the moving “Faith to Carry On” by Don Besig. Pianist Annemieke McLane will play two pieces by Edvard Grieg plus one of the greatest of the J. S. Bach harmonized chorales.
You can hear “Faith to Carry On” in this YouTube: