Season of Creation – Storms
Reading 1: 1 Corinthians 1:21–31
This version of the reading is taken from Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures.
God has outwitted those who set store by their intelligence, by ruling out intelligence as the means of discovering God. Instead, God has chosen to give life to those who accept what seems to be a foolish tale. Those of the Jewish religion always want clear proof before they believe in anything, whereas the Greek thinkers try to work out a system of belief by using their minds. But we talk about God’s Chosen on a cross. That’s the opposite of the proof the Jews are looking for, and an insult to the intelligence of the Greeks. But to God’s friends, whether Jews or Greeks, it’s God’s stroke of genius.
God playing the fool outwits the highest human mind, and God becoming weak defeats the greatest human strength. Just think, sisters and brothers, what sort of people you were before you became the friends of God. Not many of you were intelligent as society rates intelligence; not many of you were people of influence; not many of you were from the ruling classes. God chose the simple in the community to make fools of the clever; God chose the weak of the world to bring the strong to their knees; God chose the failures and outcasts of society, people regarded as nobodies, to bring the accepted order crashing to the ground. No one can show off in front of God. God has given you Jesus as your friend. He’s God’s bright idea. He restores our relationship with God and gives us status and freedom. So, as the old book says, “If you must show off, let people know what God has done for you.”
Reading 3: Luke 8:22-25
Reflection: I love storms! I especially love the sort of storms I experienced living in Queensland and Sydney. They are dramatic, awesome in the true sense – loud to the point of giving you a fright when the storm is close by. I might have a different view if I’d ever lived through a cyclone, but my experience as a child as we prepared for cyclones in FNQ where kind of exciting.
The writer of Psalm 29 seems to have a similar positive experience with storms. While there is certainly awe of those mighty energies of nature that can break trees and cause the wilderness to shake, there is also a feeling of comfort hearing the voice of God over the waters. The psalmist recognizes that nature gives testimony to God’s ultimate power over the forces of nature. In the temple of Earth, all say, “Glory!”—both humankind and other-kind.
Insurance agencies and power company crews have a less positive view of these energies of nature. Interestingly, when major weather events happen they are called “acts of God.” But the attitude is not necessarily one of reverence.
Something has happened to the quality and quantity of storms in the last few decades, however, that has fundamentally changed the nature of these weather events. Although storms are a natural part of nature, they appear to be becoming more severe and more frequent.
Hurricane Dorian last week was the most powerful tropical storm recorded to devastate the Bahamas. Apart from the terrible devastating destruction of homes and infrastructure, at least 30 deaths have been reported but hundreds possibly thousands of people are missing and officials expect the final death toll to be staggering. Three years ago cyclone Winston was the most powerful tropical cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere. In Australia, the bush fire seasons seems to start earlier each year, we are experiencing more days where conditions are catastrophic, and the fires more and more devastating.
The northern hemisphere has just lived through record summer heat, Record breaking devastation is becoming the new normal. The 2018-19 summer, which produced near 50C days and topped temperature highs across the country, has officially exceeded the previous record set in 2012-13, which was 1.28C above what is considered normal. The statistics will come as no surprise to Australians who sweltered through back-to-back heatwaves and battled bushfires across the country. Cloncurry in Queensland, residents endured 43 days in a row over 40C, Watkins said.
Recognise I am no expert so let’s listen to Miriam Pepper, part of Uniting Earth in NSW.ACT.
VIDEO – God in the Storms
What is the voice of the God saying today, in the midst of these catastrophic weather events and the climate crisis? At a time when Planet Earth is more threatened than it has ever been – by a storm of our own making?
Are we like Jesus, waking up to the reality of the state of our planet, having been oblivious in sleep? Are we coming to realise the way in which our purchases and choices of energy sources are connected with the storms and droughts that ravage our communities and lives. Are we at the point where we are ready to speak out against those economic systems that have benefited us but caused the raging wind and waves? Perhaps we could see Jesus’ actions as a kind of parable: “The kingdom of God is like waking from sleep to confront the storm.”
Verse 24 of the First Corinthians passage reminds us that we are called. In what way do we understand our calling as Christians to stand up together to confront the storm of systemic evil and call for another way to live? It can feel intimidating, almost pointless, to stand up to the mighty Goliaths of industry and politics who laugh at our tiny, insignificant voices. But if the children of our world can do it, so can we.
In 2012, theologians, church leaders, scientists and creation care practitioners met in Jamaica where they celebrated and reflected on the wonder of God’s good creation. One of the results of their discussion, study and prayer led them to the conclusion that Creation care is a gospel issue, that care for creation is an issue that must be included in our response to the gospel, proclaiming and acting upon the good news of what God has done and will complete for the salvation of the world. This is not only biblically justified, but an integral part of our mission and our expression of our worship of God.
Our ministry of reconciliation is a matter of great joy and hope, and we would care for creation even if it weren’t in crisis.
We are faced with a crisis that is pressing, urgent, and must be resolved in our generation. The challenge for us all is to live in God’s hope and to play our part in the coming reconciliation which is the beginning of a new creation.