Year B - June

Notes for the Sunday Lectionary from an environmental perspective

(Created by Steve Hollinghurst with thanks to the Green Christian website and Keith Innes for the lectionary notes there from which some of this material is drawn and other material can be found)

June Year B

Sunday June 6th 2021 ‘broken relationships in creation’

In the story of the serpent, condemned to crawl and eat dust (Genesis 3:14-15), one layer of meaning is the dislocation by sin of relationships between humanity and creation, which becomes more fully stated in the following verses in which the ground is also cursed because of humanity. Genesis 3 leaves humanity outside paradise and broken relationships between humanity and God, men and women and humanity and creation lead to the very ground cursed. This should not be read as God punishing creation, rather it is as we see in the world today, the consequence of that broken relationship leading to humanity damaging creation. Reconciliation with God through Christ thus becomes a key step in humanities reconciliation with creation.

The destiny of the people of God is not to be disembodied spirits but to be covered with a new ‘house’ or body (2 Corinthians 5:1). Our present bodies are temporary accommodation, imperfect as yet, limited and subject to suffering, but one day to be fulfilled by new bodies. A devaluation of the body and its environment is not part of Christianity which speaks of a bodily resurrection, following Jesus, because bodies and the physical world is so valued.

Sunday 13th June 2021 ‘the new creation’

This section of 2 Corinthians 5 and the next two verses 18 and 19, speak of a new creation in Christ. They are not easy to translate because in vs 17 Paul simply exclaims ‘new creation!’, leaving translators to decide how to make this proper English. So NRSV has ‘there is a new creation’. But some translations assume it is the people in Christ have become a new creation so have ‘they are a new creation’. The issue continues beyond the lectionary into verse 19. Here the cosmos is reconciled to God through Christ. But this can mean human society as well as the more obvious meaning of what we would call ‘the cosmos’. This is only made more difficult the relationship between God, Jesus and the new creation expressed by the phrase ‘in Christ’ has three possible interpretations. Some translations see here a Christological statement and have ‘God was in Christ’. This is possible but as the passage is about the new creation unlikely and less favoured by the Greek.

The ‘safe’ translation would be ‘in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself’ as NRSV, but it could also be that Paul intends us to read ‘the world was in Christ being reconciled to God’. This would fit with the kind of theology offered by Jurgen Moltmann in ‘the Crucified God’ in which God experiences all the pain of the universe past and future on the Cross and in doing so the new creation breaks forth. If this is what Paul has in mind it makes sense of the other difficulties in the passage which is speaking of a whole new order of creation. It is also consistent with the theme of ‘new creation’ elsewhere in Paul in which in Jesus the New Adam there is a New Creation in which the whole of creation is renewed, which Paul often uses where Jesus would speak of the Kingdom.

When speaking of something new in Greek there are two words that can be used ‘neos’ which speaks of a replacement and ‘kinos’ which speaks of the old thing being renewed. Consistently in the New Testament ‘kinos’ is used to speak of the new creation in Paul and for instance in revelation. It is this creation we now live as part of that God reconciles in Christ and so renews. So, if as in verse 20 we become ministers of reconciliation this is not just talking of human relationships but our place in the whole of creation. Creation care and being reconciled to all those we share life with is at the heart of what God is doing in Christ and thus our Christian calling.

Sunday 20th June 2021 ‘Jesus and the overcoming of chaos in creation’

The passage from Mark’s Gospel ends by declaring of Jesus ‘even the winds and waves obey him’ after he had calmed a storm on the seas of Galilee.  As God reminds Job the control of the sea is something God does, and Job cannot do. Indeed, God’s references to nature in his answer to Job reminds us that in spite of the power of humanity there are times when nature overpowers us. Yet we are having to learn how the damage we do to nature increases freak weather events like storms.

This Passage in Mark may also reference a Jewish idea that the sea was the place chaos and destruction came from, symbolised by the chaos monster, Leviathan, who was a seven headed serpent who lived in the sea. As God continues his answer to Job it culminates in God talking of his battel with Leviathan. There are forces of destruction in creation that God plans in the final coming of the new creation to overcome so suffering and death are no more. In the Christian tradition this chaos monster becomes unified with Satan who seeks to bring destruction and disorder were God brings life and harmony. To seek to preserve life and balance in creation is part of God’s mission to overcome evil and chaos.

Sunday 27th June 2021 ‘the gift of God in creation’

Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 is urging the Corinthians in their relative prosperity to give generously to support the struggling Jerusalem Church. He reminds them of the gift they have received so generously from God in Jesus. Indeed, our attitude to the resources we have should be that they are God’s gift, not something we own or have earnt. This should lead us to be generous in sharing with those in need, and not just between our churches though that should be part of our sharing. However, this also speaks, as Paul does, of an attitude to having enough and not too much. As Ghandi famously said ‘there is enough for everyone’s need not everyone’s greed’. It is our greed that not only stops us sharing what we think of as ‘ours’ but also leads us to take more and more from the planets resources and threaten its life and welfare.

(Created by Steve Hollinghurst with thanks to the Green Christian website and Keith Innes for the lectionary notes there from which some of this material is drawn and other material can be found)

Page last updated: 19th August 2021 5:03 PM