Week 5

To Strive to Safeguard the Integrity of Creation and Sustain and Renew the Life of the Earth

Opening Prayer: from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship Pastoral Care, ELCA 2008.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, who in your self-emptying love gathered up and reconciled all creation to the Father. Innumerable galaxies of the heavens worship you. Creatures that grace the earth rejoice in you. All those in the deepest seas bow to you in adoration. As with them we give you praise, grant that we may cherish the earth, our home, and live in harmony with this good creation, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and forever. Amen.

Theme
To consider the ways in which the created order might offer us a vision of God, and to consider our responsibilities to care for creation.

Beginning with the text (20 minutes):

Matthew 21:33-41
Read through once. Spend a few minutes in silence, imagining that they are the tenants in the story. Imagine the vineyard. What do you do there? What brings you joy? What makes you angry or fearful? What is it like to be a tenant in those conditions?
Read it a second time with a different translation. (Maybe the Message?)
What was going on in this story?
Is there anything about this story that makes you feel uneasy?
Anything you found comforting?
What would you do in the vineyard?
What would bring you joy?
What makes you angry or fearful?
What is it like to be a tenant in these conditions?

Getting into the text (20 minutes):

We’re going to fill in the details to the parable. I really want us to imagine “what went wrong” in the vineyard that made the tenants abuse and kill the landlord’s messengers.

What made the tenants behave that way to the landlord’s servants and, eventually, to the landlord’s son?
Were the grapes scarce? Why?
Where the tenants particularly greedy? why?
Did the landlord demand too much rent?
Once you have created your story, ask the following questions of it:
Who gains from this situation? What do they gain?
Who loses in this situation? What do they lose, and how are their lives affected?
If God is the landlord, what disappoints God?
What are God’s hopes for this situation?

Moving to Action (10 minutes):

What is a story of us not taking care of creation?
How does this Bible story effect your views of ecological destruction?
What signs of hope do we see in taking care of creation today?
What role can our church play in safeguarding the integrity of creation?
How might we prioritize this type of stewardship in our church? Our homes?
How might we support other community groups in doing this work in our community?

Takeaway Questions:
What actions might we take to help safeguard the integrity of creation in our homes?
How might we do this in our church?

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