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Third Sunday in Lent

Readings: Exodus 20: 1-17; Psalm 19; I Corinthians 1: 18-25; John 2: 13-22

During the Sundays in Lent, we have been reciting the Ten Commandments in an abbreviated form.  They appear twice in the Old Testament, Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.  In each setting the most expansive commandment is number four.

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.  Six days you shall
labor and do all your work.  But the seventh day is a sabbath to
the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or
your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the
alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven
and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh
day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. 

Scholars write that of all the ten, this is the most unique in the ancient world.  There are no known parallels in the ancient world setting up a seven-day cycle with God creating in six days and resting on the seventh.  This invites us to review the creation narrative as found in Genesis 1: 24-31.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind:
cattle, and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every
kind.  And it was so.  God made the wild animals of the earth of every
kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the
ground of every kind.  And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, let us make humankind in our image, according to our
likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over
the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of
the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth….
God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and
fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea
and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon
the earth….
God saw everything that [God]had made, and indeed, it was very good.
There was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 

Most likely this text was put in current form after the Davidic dynasty, perhaps even after the destruction of the temple when the Israelites were hauled in chains to Babylonia.  The key points are–God blessed them…God said to them, be fruitful and multiply…fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over [all creation].

On the sixth day we were created by God; we were blessed by God; and then God shared with us the responsibility to continue to create (be fruitful and multiply), and the responsibility to continue to care and nurture (have dominion) the entire creation – earth, sky and sea.  To subdue the earth was to cultivate, to farm, which was essential in a world where starvation was always at the door.

We were blessed and then charged and challenged to co-create with God; we were blessed and then charged and challenged to care for creation.

I experience that charge and challenge every time I drive Route 15 in Allenwood where the Lycoming Landfill keeps growing higher and larger.

I experience that charge and challenge every time I look at the small dumpster on our parking lot to be filled by the Meals for Seals program, the Martha’s Table program, as well as our All Saints recycling. 

I experience that charge and challenge every time I take our home recycling to the drop off in Lewisburg.

I experience that charge and challenge Thursdays when I put out our trash can.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is an important part of the charge and challenge given us in that first chapter of Genesis.  It is taking care of our “island home” that we share with our sisters and brothers in the skies, under the seas, and on the land. 

One of my favorite lines is – God has blessed us so that we will be a blessing. 

Let us live more fully into God’s charge and challenge. 

May we be fruitful and multiply, and may we fill the earth and subdue it, and may we care for all the we share space with on this planet.

And may God see everything that is created, and indeed, see that it is still very good. 

Amen

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