Deans' Note September 12, 2021
Words from the opening hymn scheduled for mass this coming Sunday resonate with the events we remember and reflect on this weekend. We begin the Season of Creation on the twentieth anniversary of September 11.
Joachim Neander wrote the original German version of what we know as, “All my hope on God is founded" in the 17th Century. Yet his poetry rings maybe even truer in our time than in his. He writes:
God’s great goodness e'er endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendor, light and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
Evermore from his store
newborn worlds rise and adore.
The wisdom of God continues to birth creation and we have been invited to “husband” it, to use an old word. That is, our vocation is to help the creation achieve her full potential, to care for the earth and all creatures including one another. At least that’s how we were created to live.
Instead of living in awe of the beauty springing out of naught, we have placed ourselves at the center of the universe and have tried to harness creation to our purposes. That’s the path we’ve been heading on for a long time and nature now is rising up in prophetic witness against our selfishness.
We humans, especially in developed nations have placed our trust in our own abilities to control the world. Our tribalism wreaks havoc on the planet and destroys our bonds of common humanity. The tragedy of September 11th demonstrates the profound evil of making others into objects to advance misguided ends. The evil acts of terrorists and the pride of our empire building both faced judgement on that morning twenty years ago. Neander’s poem both warns us and guides us:
Mortal pride and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray our trust;
though with care and toil we build them,
tower and temple fall to dust.
But God's power, hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.
This weekend, as we recall the tragedy that tore apart our nation and caused such pain and grief for so many even to this day, as we remember the other tragedies in the years since then, as we fear for the earth and her creatures, we may be tempted to lose hope. While we Christians aren’t optimists, we are people of hope who ultimately know we aren’t defeated by the forces of darkness. Our hope is found in nothing less than the God whose power, hour by hour, is our temple and our tower.