Thoughts for Friday 5th June, 2020

Psalm 8; Job 38:12-21; 2 Timothy 1:12b-14

 Friday 5 June- Rev. Jerry Eve

 Psalm 8, as a hymn to ‘all creation’ (verse 6), could easily be invoked by the likes of Prince Charles. With its reference first of all to sky, moon and stars, and then to sheep cattle and wild animals, birds fish and sea creatures, it would sit quite nicely alongside our heir to the throne’s recent comments that COVID-19 has increased his determination to ‘push, shout and prod about returning nature to the centre of everything we do.’

 I haven’t listened to the interview that he gave here in Scotland a couple of days ago, but I do suspect that King David himself would warm to Charles’s views, widely reported in the Press, comparing the planet we live on to a sick patient, who no doctor would ever have allowed to become so ill.

 Verse 14 of our reading (which is a wonderful poem) from Job reminds me of a poem by Arthur Clough (1819 – 1861). It’s called Say not the struggle nought availeth, and it used to be in our Church of Scotland hymnbook to be sung. It was written to encourage the Chartists (who campaigned for increased suffrage) after their defeat in 1848. As well as a poet, Clough worked as an assistant to Florence Nightingale. Here is the final stanza:

 And not by eastern windows only,

     When daylight comes, comes in the light,

In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,

     But westward, look, the land is bright.

 Verse 20 reminds me of the story of King Canute. It was the tide, though, rather than day and night) that he wanted to show his courtiers could only be commanded by God alone.

 Timothy! There is a lot about Timothy in the New Testament. The first Bishop of Ephesus, Paul’s first acquaintance with such a key figure in all his missionary endeavours can be found at Acts 16:1. We tend to read Acts and the Pauline epistles without thinking too much about the character traits of those who Paul worked alongside. But if we spend the time to look at all the references there are to Timothy (or to Barnabas or to Silas etc.) then this does help to flesh out these characters along with Paul, making the text come alive much more.

 We presume – because Timothy is not mentioned until Paul’s second visit to Lystra, and because Paul refers to him as ‘my dear son’ in 2 Timothy – that Timothy was considerably younger, by a generation at least, than Paul.

 Our prayer today is part of one version of Chief Seattle’s Speech:

 Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator,

 

Amen.

 


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