(Ezekiel 7:10-15, 23b-27 and Luke 10:1-17) and both passages exude considerable anger. I wouldn't blame you for stopping right here.
Yet is there some way we can enter this without being pulled into an endless vortex of wrath or the looniness of some recent prophets of the end of the world?
To be sure, contemporary Christianity avoids the dark side of the biblical accounts. The prophet Ezekiel is one angry guy, and he is pointing fingers at Israel for abandoning the God who has never abandoned them. The key phrase is this (Ezekiel 7:27b): "According to their way I will deal with them; according to their own judgments I will judge them. And they shall know that I am the Lord."
In other words, we make our nest and lie in it.
In the passage from Luke, Jesus is angry with those communities that have rejected him. He is also talking about traveling light and giving up creature comforts for the greater good (Luke 10:4): "Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals."
Lately, I've been thinking of how much we have degraded our earth, this great gift from God that sustains life itself. By polluting the planet, are we not abandoning God? What are the consequences (judgment) for polluting our own nest? We seem unable to part with a few creature comforts for the greater good of the planet. Our nest is filling with junk, the air we breath and water we drink is getting dirtier for millions and millions of people on this earth.
And I'm also painfully aware that I don't travel light. My house is crammed full of books, kitchen gadgets, and things I just cannot part with. When I get on an airplane, my bag always seems to weigh a ton -- and I think I am a good packer; I never have to check a bag. Still, I bring more things than I need.
Yet, we also live in an exceedingly complex world, and we could use our ingenuity and our "stuff" to create a world that is sustainable. I pray these biblical passages will point us in that direction. To truly love God is inseparable from loving and repairing our good Earth.
Episcopal Relief and Development has joined a world-wide effort called "Turning Wine into Water" to bring safe drinking water to the poorest regions of the world. You can read more about it by clicking HERE. It is my hope that at St. Paul's we will look into how we can participate in the next few months.
Photo above: Nils-Udo "The Nest", Earth, stones, birch branches, grass, Lüneburg Heath, Germany, 1978.
Photo at right: safe drinking water project provided by Turning Wine into Water.