Here is some of what I am thinking about as I prepare the workshop for our diocesan convention next week. The theme of the convention is being Stewards of Creation (or something like that). And this workshop is a reflection on “green” worship….
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Word, and without Word not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Word was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1)
Scripture reminds us that we worship through an Incarnational theology that believes that the creative energy of God is and has been present since before creation. This energy of God manifests as breath, as Word, as Jesus, and resonates in and through all creation.
As Christians we understand God’s presence in the world primarily through the Incarnation – God is embodied in the world in human flesh. Scripture reminds us, in stories like Noah, the flood and the rainbow, that God has created a covenant with us and together human beings and God work within the world. Human beings are uniquely qualified for this because unlike other creatures we have the capacity to be intentionally responsible.
Many understand that human beings have an innate drive to find meaning in life, to pursue a spiritual life, to know God. An environmentally grounded spirituality is a desire for connectedness and transcendence and by this I mean: to know God even before God is experienced as one who is both of this world and more than this world.
A sacred place is a place made holy by an active and relational divine presence. Creation is sacred because it is the dynamic realization of divine imagination, the place in and through and where the creative Spirit of God manifests.
A sacrament is the outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.
A sacramental experience is a place, a moment, a prayer, or an event that is graced by and revelatory of and provides relational engagement with, a divine presence. (Sacramental Commons, John Hart)
A theology of the environment is essentially a sacramental theology.
The world is sacramental because it is an expression of God’s self. The world is incarnational because we know the creative Word of God, which was with God before creation, is made manifest in the world in human flesh, in Jesus – the world is a sacramental incarnational reality.
A sixth century monk, mystic, and martyr named Maximus the Confessor described the interaction between the Word of God and the expression of that Word into the world as a revelation of God’s self. Sallie McFague, a Christian theologian speaks of the world as God’s body.
Anglican theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, may be the first person who wrote about the concept of a sacramental universe in his book, “Nature, Man, and God,” (1834). There is a communion that is created between God, human beings, stars, moons, sun, earth, and all that lives on the earth – a communion of ongoing interaction. Hebrew scriptures Isaiah, Sirach, and Wisdom all speak of the inter-related nature of God and creation:
How desirable are all God’s works,
and how sparkling they are to see!
All these things live and remain for ever;
each creature is preserved to meet a particular need.
All things come in pairs, one opposite to the other,
and he has made nothing incomplete.
Each supplements the virtues of the other.
Who could ever tire of seeing God’s glory?
As I prepare for this workshop (and the other workshop I’ll offer on Words Matter) I am thinking about our stories. Who we are as created beings called to live in relationship with one another, with God, and with this amazing world. I’m thinking about how its all sacramental – signs of God’s grace living in and through us, our relationships, and the world.