Every Sunday morning our Community of Faith Gathers to join together in worship. Our services are contemporary offering time for prayer and reflection and reflections that address biblical texts in today's context.
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Reflection for April 18, 2021 - Tikkun Olam
I came across some new words while researching articles for Earth Day. They are Hebrew Words taken from ancient Hebrew texts, so they seem odd to me.
The words Tikkun Olam (Pronounced tikken olem) do seem strange but they are great words to help us focus today as we celebrate Earth Day. (Earth Day itself is actually Thursday April 22).
Tikkun is often translated as repair. But in the Hebrew Bible and in the early code of Jewish law called the Mishnah, it has a range of meanings: improve, fix, prepare, set up, or just “do something with…” Tikkun could be used to describe straightening a crooked rod, maintaining a roadway, cutting fingernails, setting a table, or devising a parable to explain a difficult idea. Olam in Biblical Hebrew connotes all of time. In later Hebrew, it came to mean the world.
So tikkun olam means to do something with the world that will not only fix any damage, but also improve upon it, preparing it to enter the ultimate state for which it was created.(Pic of Earth with Bandage).
As Easter People, we are called to be instruments of “Tikkun Olam.” We are called to do what we can to protect our home for the benefit and well-being of future generations and for the preservation of the Creation itself. That is a tough job because the creation has become a possession, something that we can use as we like. We can mine it, burn it, plant and harvest it, and manipulate it anyway we wish. We have the ability to use natural resources of earth, sky and water in ways that fare exceed our basic needs. Unfortunately, as is common knowledge, our human existence threatens the very creation itself.
Now we could spend the rest of this reflection time together being self-critical and looking at what a mess we have created. But Easter is not a time for gloom and doom, it is a time to celebrate and look to re-planting. It is a time to look at possibility and renewal. It is a time to look at resurrection in our midst. I don’t want you all to leave depressed on this wonderful spring day.
They were wondering and disbelieving so Jesus took a piece of fish and ate it. He told them that he was not a ghost, that he was real. (Picture) “45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,”
As Jesus walked with the people then, there was great hope of a new beginning, a new heaven and a new earth. And, we live in hope today that we can experience Jesus among us in ways that promote justice, truth, equality and living in right relationship. Nurturing God’s creation is one way we can do that. There can be a bright future for creation and we can be a part of that, we can be agents of tikkun olam.
I wonder if you saw the news the other day of the Gray Whale off of Vancouver Island. (Picture) The whale was in trouble unfortunately as a result of a satellite tag that was inserted near its dorsal fin. An apparent act of human good had the opposite effect. The tag became infected and the whale was in trouble. Thankfully researchers and a veterinarian from the Vancouver Aquarium tracked the mammal and were able to inject medication. It was an incredible site, the small boat chasing after the incredible mammal in an effort to save it life. Now the Gray is reported to be doing fine. Tikkun Olam! We hope that life is being preserved and a species at risk resurrected from the brink of extinction.
Who among us would have predicted the pandemic? Moreover, who would have considered that it would have led to restrictions which meant fewer planes in the air and fewer cars on the road. And who would have expected the noticeable improvement in air quality in many large cities around the world.
Reduced air pollution has improved air quality in Vancouver and Toronto. Cities in China, some the most polluted in the world have also seen improvement. More than one million people a year perish as a result of poor air quality in China according to the World Health Organization. (Picture) It seems unlikely that such improvements will last post pandemic, but we see glimpses of what can be accomplished by a change in human habits. Is a resurrection of a different kind possible? Will this event spark more aggressive measures to curbing air emissions and helping to combat climate change? Will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren breathe more easily? We know now it is possible. Perhaps we can play a part in not only fixing damage but improving upon it (tikkun olam).
For those of you that are internet junkies, use any search engine and type in the name Greta Thunburg. (Picture) You will find pages of articles, Instagram posts, interviews, and other news about her. At only age 16 she was named Time’s person of the year. She has been on TED talks and spoken at the UN. She has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Now 18 she is arguably one of the world’s foremost activists calling world leaders to do more to counter climate change. She has put the responsibility squarely where it needs to be. You might recall her address to the Secretary General of the United Nations at rally in December 2018.
"You are not mature enough to tell it like is," she said at the summit, addressing the Secretary-General. "Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet." 
Greta has a new special on PBS in honour of Earth day called “A Year to Change the World.” She will also testify in US congress that day. I think Greta understands the Hebrew words tikkun olam. She is doing something not only to try and fix something terribly wrong in the way we treat the earth, but improve it as well. In Greta we see a different kind of resurrection. Springing forth from our economically and politically dominated society where profit matters most, comes a youthful voice of opposition. And many are listening. Why is that? Perhaps contrary opinion to business as usual will gain some traction.
I see this all as justice work of the living Christ today. Our times are much different as are our challenges. But we face them in the same way early disciples and followers of Jesus did. All of the work we do together to love and honour creation is discipleship work.
There are indeed signs that seeds of hope have been planted and that they might blossom into something incredible. (Pictures)
As we focus on Earth Day this week, we are given an incredible privilege. We are offered to walk hand in hand with God upon this incredible creation. We are offered beauty in buds and early spring blossoms. We are witness to shimmering lakes amid back drops of mountains and trees. Creeks are beginning to fill. Birds dart about searching for food and building nests. Piercing blue skies and bright daylight welcome us. Starlit skies amid a crescent moon speak to the mystery of our incredible universe.
Enjoy this creation today and this week. Take some time to appreciate what is around you every day. Do walk softly if you can and spend some time thinking about your own tikkun olam.
We adore creation, it is a gift. What can we do to ensure that this gift remains for an enternity.
Thanks for listening to me this morning.
 China tops WHO list for deadly outdoor air pollution | Pollution | The Guardian, accessed April 17, 2021
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