Sunday, December 13, 2020

From Coffee Grounds to Honeybees; Sermon on Isaiah 61:1-11


Rev. George Miller

Dec 13, 2020

Isaiah 61:1-11


Eggshells, coffee grounds, and orange peels- put them together and you get butterflies and honeybees.


Since September we’ve explored our faith through various lenses- the female perspective, the mercy perspective, and the land.


As mentioned before, scripture refers to the land as God’s nahalah- a beautiful inheritance that the Lord bestows upon the people.


We’ve witnessed that when the people of God do right by the Lord, the nahalah flourishes.  When the people forget and choose not to honor their covenant with God, the nahalah suffers.


Millenia before talks of climate change, the disappearance of honeybees and Michigan’s water crisis,


our spiritual ancestors showed us how God, humans, animals, and soil are all interconnected.


It makes sense.  The people of the Bible were intrinsically tied to the land as farmers, herders, nomads, travelers.


So much of scriptures refers to the land; so much of Jesus’ teachings use the land to teach us about God’s kingdom- mustard seeds that turn into mighty shrubs, sowers who toss seeds extravagantly, precious jewels found in fields of green.


So it makes sense that Isaiah would take his turn in talking about the land. 


He talks about oaks of righteousness, tilling soil, dressing vines, shoots, and gardens.


Isaiah was attached to the land.  The Israelites were attached to the land.  Jesus was attached to the land.


Even today, the Creator has blessed us with nahalah of every kind.


For some it is the property we live on.  For some it’s the flowers, vegetables and fruits we grow in flowerpots.


For some it’s the kitty cats, the dogs, the fish in tanks we care for.


Each of us have some kind of nahalah we have been entrusted with.


Yet, we are not as attached to the land the way our grandparents were.


We’re more often purchasing carrots than pulling them from the ground.


We’re more often buying orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin C then going into our backyard and squeezing the juice ourselves.


I’m guilty of this.  When living on Dinner Lake there was every kind of citrus tree, but because the lemons, oranges, grapefruits did not look like the ones in the store, I did not eat them.


Now, I’ve been a homeowner for the past five years, and if there’s one thing COVID did was get me out of the house and into the soil.


It’s hypocritical to preach about God’s nahalah while not tending to your own.


Over the months I noticed that with less traffic there’s more butterflies and bees.


One day I answered the call to do my part and create for them a place to fly.


The west side of my house had been a sorry state of scraggly weeds.  Setting vanity aside, I got down in the dirt and tore up what was barely there.


I laid down a mixture of cow manure, topsoil, and compost made from eggshells, coffee grounds, and orange rinds. 


Sprinkled a bag of wildflower seeds; watered each day.


Within just a few days, seedlings.  Some grew into stalks. Some stalks sprouted blooms.


Soon the pollinators came- butterflies, bees.


Not much longer after a spider set up shop, followed by 2, 3, 4, 5 spiders all weaving webs.


Where there had been nothing but straw-like weeds that pricked the bottom of the feet, were flowers the color of orange, maroon, pink, and purple.


Where once there were only lizards and frogs were now flitting wings, intricate webs, and life on all levels from soil to sky.


What’s amazed me is the science of it all.  In school they taught us how things grow, how waste creates life.


But to this day I still can’t wrap my head around how manure, coffee grounds, eggshells, dirt, water, and sun can create such vibrant life.


But it does, especially if we do our part, especially if we reuse, recycle, if we know when to step aside, when to tend, when to pluck, when to plant, when to weed, when to sow.


Isaiah so beautifully talks about all of this, and places it into the story of faith.


Faith that involves things that come to end; faith that involves things coming to a new beginning. 


Faith that binds so that faith can release.


Faith that can take what’s been ruined and use it to restore.


So often we in America worry about things that end, or that which has been destroyed.


So we need to be reminded again and again that our faith is often, and nearly always, about how God can take what seems chaotic and broken and turn it into extravagance and healthy healing.


Think about it- God takes the dark nothing of an empty void and brings forth sun, moon, stars, woman, man.


God hears the cries of a broken people and leads them across Red Sea waters into honey flowing land.


God takes the empty wombs of our mothers and brings forth dynasties, priests, and prophets.


God takes fathers from bellies of fish and dens of lions and uses them to preach the Good News and bring salvation.


God takes an unmarried woman in a compromising position and gives her a child that will bless the world.


God takes a cross and a body full of nail wounds and turns it into resurrection and healing hands.


Just as the land requires breaking down to be built up, just as from compost and coffee grounds comes butterflies and spider webs,


The Lord takes whatever we are going through, whatever we are facing,


And bring forth purpose, bring forth life, and bring forth light…


Hold on, oh people of Emmanuel.


Though we mourn now, though are lives seem to be nothing but ash,


Once again the Lod will raise us up.  Once more the ruins will be repaired.


Once more we will become mighty oaks of righteousness grown in the soil of our tribulations, watered by our tears.


Tended to by the Living Hands of Christ and refreshed by the Holy Spirit.


Of this we have faith. In this we have hope.  In this we find peace and love.


Amen and amen.

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