St Bride's: Sermons

The Book of Genocide

From today we turn our attention towards the coming of God which we celebrate at Christmas. But before we can enjoy that great festival, Advent bids us reflect on the sombre themes associated with the Second Coming - Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. These sombre themes pose the question, "When God finally comes will he come with judgement or joy? Will he say to us as individuals well done, you have used your time and your gifts well and wisely? And what will he say to our nation and to our world? Might he have harsh words to say about our stewardship of his beautiful creation?" As a way of reflecting on these uncomfortable questions, listen to this modern rewrite of the first chapter of Genesis:

The Book of Genocide

In the end, Man destroyed the heavens and the earth. And the earth became void and drifting smog upon the face of the deep.

For man said: Let us make industries, power stations and vehicles that creep along highways and send a great cloud of smoke and noxious gases into the sky. And it was so. And there was no light in the morning and the evening because of the smog. And Man saw what he had done, that it was no good, and said: It is the price of success, and of progress.

And Man said: Let us add to our achievements by exploding nuclear devices in the atmosphere. And it was so. And radioactive fall-out mingled with the smoke and noxious gases in the firmament. And the firmament above the earth became poisoned.

And the smog and radioactive material fell on the seas and the dry land and contaminated every herb yielding seed and every fruit tree yielding fruit. And Man said: It is in the interests of national security, and it is not very good but we cannot put the clock back.

And by his work Man created great deserts and changed the climatic conditions so that floods engulfed the land and winds swept the dust of the earth skywards to mingle with the smog which blotted out the sun by day and the moon and stars by night. And Man saw the work of his hands and said: Our conquest of Nature is nearly complete.

And Man said: Let us dump our industrial effluents, raw sewage and garbage into the streams and waterways and seas. And it was so. And the waters upon the earth became so foul that all life in the waters died. And the remainder did Man fish up with great nets for processing the factory ships.

And Man saw what he had done and said: It is not very good, but the growth of GNP and the satisfaction of the consumer demand the utilisation of our fishing resources and the depletion of our fish stocks.

And because of the poisoning of the firmament and despoliation of the earth and the denuding of the seas, all cattle and creeping things and every beast after their own kind ceased to multiply, and droughts increased and famine came upon the face of the earth.

And Man said: The situation is very serious indeed, we had better do something. But Man found it was too late to save Creation and he chocked and starved to death, so that the factories and other mighty works were desolate and fell to ruin. And no one was found to mourn him upon the face of the earth.

On the last day before the end the ravaged earth rested from the works of Man and cursed the ruin he had wrought upon the Creation.

That may have been a parody when it was written 20 years ago, but it is sombre and frightening reality today which is becoming more urgent and overwhelming as each year passes. God's judgement already, you might say, on our stewardship of His world, but also a reminder that even though there are terrible warning signs, it isn't too late to do something about it, if we are prepared to review our lifestyles, to live more simply and with greater care and concern for the environment.

The early church never lost its belief that she was living in the end times, the last days, and that God would come to meet out judgement and salvation very soon. As the centuries passed this belief grew dimmer, but the environmental concerns of today give it a new meaning and relevance.

So perhaps our Advent preparations should be not jolly and brash and up-beat, but in the light of what is happening to our world quiet and thoughtful, reviewing the past, individually and corporately, taking stock of ourselves and our world, kneeling in contrition and resolving to find ways as individuals to more effectively cherish the world and its precious resources. No-one knows when Christ's final coming in judgement will be: what we do know is that He continually comes amongst us and asks us to live more simply and more generously and more unselfishly both for our own sakes and for the sake of our children and grandchildren. If they are to inherit a world that is worth inhabiting, we must heed God's Advent warning and learn to be better stewards of all He has entrusted to us.

Amen

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