For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? (Fr John)

“For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

Our gospel is reflecting on life in the world and life in the world with Jesus and of course the life in the world to come.  But this month as we contemplate the ecology of our world and the impact of Climate Change on our Eco-system here and now, we might want to come to the conclusion by the end of this sermon, that not only have we been at war with creation, but because of the damage we have done to God’s world, we have inadvertently been at war with God.

And now! is the retaliation of creation against its greatest threat: Us.   For what will it profit us if we have the world at our disposal, what will it profit us if we reap where we have not sown and gather where we did not plant… if our planet will no longer sustain our species then what value is there in us having mastered our domain?

I was profoundly moved yesterday at Morning prayer when Fr Tom read from the scriptures our Wisdom literature.  I heard this:

The Lord will take his zeal as his whole armour, and will arm all creation to repel his enemies;… and creation will join with him to fight against his frenzied foes.  Shafts of lightning will fly with true aim, and will leap from the clouds to the target, as from a well-drawn bow, and hailstones full of wrath will be hurled as from a catapult; the water of the sea will rage against them, and rivers will relentlessly overwhelm them; a mighty wind will rise against them, and like a tempest it will winnow them away. Lawlessness will lay waste the whole earth, and evildoing will overturn the thrones of rulers.

Listen therefore, O kings, and understand; learn, O judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations. For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High…

As Christians we spend much of our life speaking into the unknown of the known God.  We make our petitions to influence God in ways which encourage our flourishing, and healing.  And, as I preached last week – the human centric gospel doesn’t discourage us from identifying and seeking our own need to be satisfied.

As ordinary people, we know we have an unmeasurable impact on the unseen.  How you interact with someone this morning, will have an impact on how their day goes, or even their week.  Depending on how cruel or how lovely you want to be!

There are implications mostly unseen by ourselves to everything we do.  There are implications mostly unseen by ourselves to the behavior’s we live out in our community and in our world.

As the legendary Donald Rumsfeld stated, “As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

The major known unknown for us as a species are the oceans. We understand and have mapped less than 10% of the oceans… and yet.  We are having the most major impact on the biggest thing unknown, unmapped, and not fully comprehended on our planet.

As a species, we manage consistently to impact in ways and upon things we do not know and cannot understand.  So today when we think about the oceans and the seas, the rivers and the streams – we know little.  But what we do known is that The oceans are the Earth’s life support, with 97% of the world’s water held by the ocean. We rely on it to regulate our climate, absorb CO2 and it is the number one source for protein for over a billion people.

However, at the rate we are polluting the ocean with around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic a year, the damage we are doing to marine life and our ecosystem is becoming irreparable.

It is suggested that our actions over the 10 years will determine the state of the ocean for the next 10,000 years to come.

Perhaps this week’s stats will help us put into context our impact upon an unknown part of our world and what might be…

More than 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from plastic pollution every year.

100% of baby sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs.

There is now 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic in our ocean & 46,000 pieces in every square mile of ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.

Every day around 8 million pieces of plastic makes their way into our oceans.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is around 1.6 million square kilometers – bigger than Texas.

50% of this is single-use plastic & only 9% has ever been recycled.

88% of the sea’s surface is polluted by plastic waste.

Between 8 to 14 million tonnes enters our ocean every year.

On UK beaches there are 5000 pieces of plastic & 150 plastic bottles for each mile.

More than 1 million plastic bags end up in the trash every minute.

The world uses over 500 billion plastic bags a year – that’s 150 for each person on Earth.

8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches, but only 1% of straws end up as waste in the ocean.

In 2020 the number of plastics in the sea was thought to be higher than the number of fish.

1 in 3 fish caught for human consumption contains plastic.

Plastic microbeads are estimated to be one million times more toxic than the seawater around it.

Products containing microbeads can release 100,000 tiny beads with just one squeeze.

As a species the unknown impact of our behaviour is becoming known.

In our Gospel we hear over and over the outworking of the detrimental impact of human behaviour on humankind.  We see Jesus continually drawing back into relationship with God and society women, men, children – all being healed of the taboos which excluded them.

But in creation, we need to be healed back into relationship with the delight of God’s creation itself.

God sees that the world is delightful, and makes it for us to delight in.  If we are the height of his creation, then we are also the height of the creative destruction whose potential exists and is now being realised also.

When we diminish each other – we declare war on God and his kingdom! When we diminish creation – we proclaim war on God through his creation.

But in war – treaties are signed and terms of peace are negotiated.  It seems we have lost the battle in having dominion over the seas and the land for creation is retaliating – the time is right, if not too late for us to sign the peace treaty and consider the terms of our surrender, so that we might have life, now and for generations to come.

What will it profit you have gain the whole world, and forfeit your life?


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