Humans have asked why we are here and how we got here since the earliest days of human consciousness. The answer keeps changing as human consciousness evolves and scientific knowledge increases, but the question is still as important as it was around the primal caves and campfires.
I will talk with the children about the parts of the Genesis creation story that are still useful after 3000-plus years. They include the notion that the creative force of love and life and light in the universe that we name God blesses the earth and all creatures and in God’s eyes all those created things are good, and therefore sacred and to be treated with a loving care akin to God’s. The story also affirms that humans are made of the same substance as the earth and all creation, the dust of the ground, and that God’s spirit is breathed into us—we are living, conscious manifestations of God’s consciousness and the life of the universe. It also says that our role in creation is to tend it on God’s behalf.
What does this understanding of our place in the history of the universe say about the way our civilization lives and treats people, creatures and places? We will look at the question of our identity and its ramifications in worship this Second Sunday in Lent.
If you have not seen the recent important and exciting PBS documentary about this, the Journey of the Universe, please take an hour and watch it soon! I have put the link to it below. We have a Strafford connection to it. It is narrated by one of Emerson Gale’s teachers and co-written by a dear friend of the Speths and, of course, Strafford is the center of that universe!
The Gospel reading shows Jesus responding with love, compassion and frustration to a civilization that has lost its sense of true identity and strayed from the sacred way. (Luke 13:31-35) We will also read an insightful, poetic contemporary translation of Psalm 27. I’m not sure what Hebrew word the pastor-poet translated as “soap opera” but it’s in there!
We will sing the hauntingly beautiful Mexican folk hymn, “Pues si vivimos (In All Our Living)” and another creative Psalm translation, “How Lovely Is Your Dwelling,” set to the tune of “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.” The sermon hymn will be “Lent Insists That We Remember,” set to a tune that may be unfamiliar to us on this side of the Atlantic, but every school child or grandparent in Wales can sing it in four or more part harmony. Two fun and stirring versions of it are included below. Especially listen to the large choir, full symphony and entire audience singing it in parts with descant on the eve of the Wales-Scotland rugby match, and check out what they are wearing! (It is the official song of Wales rugby, but it is much more than that—it is a song that expresses the soul of that nation as you will hear in the other version.) Many of our most beloved hymn tunes come from Wales, and this is one to add to that list. Pianist Nicole Johnson will play pieces by Chopin, Tallis and J. S. Bach.
See below the film Journey of the Universe plus two versions of the sermon hymn tune, both well worth the short time they take. If you are like me you will play them each more than once!