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Creation's Glory


Rev. Dr. Bruce Havens October 3 Creation's Glory


“Creation’s Glory”

a message by the Rev. Dr. Bruce Havens

Coral Isles Church


October 3, 2021


Psalm 8

1O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

2Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark

because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars that you have established;

4what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

5Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

6You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under their feet, 7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!





I think one of the great gifts of living here in the Keys is the beauty of the earth and sky and sea are so readily apparent. You hardly have to glance one way or another, up or down, a bit and you almost always see the glory of Creation. We have certainly been enjoying it and it seems to naturally lead to praise the Creator.

The Psalm reading this morning connects Creation, Creator, and Creature in just a few verses. The writer begins by praising the Creator:

“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in ALL the EARTH!
You have set your glory above the heavens.”
So immediately we are aware of Creator and Creation. The next few words may sound confusing:
2Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark
because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

I was confused enough to search for explanations. I read the Message Version, which I used last week for our Scripture reading. Eugene Peterson, the writer of the Message version put it this way:


Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs That drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble.

So the Psalm writer is saying, perhaps with a bit of irony, that baby talk of newborns and infants is an expression of the Creator’s power and glory. Baby talk silences those who hate God! What an amazing thought! The Creator is connected with the Creation and with the Creatures of Creation. The most senseless human communication communicates more than deniers of the Creator!

All this reality also inspires wonder in the writer. The writer ponders the incredible, amazing value of the Creatures the Creator has made. The writer marvels that God is so “mindful” of us as Creatures to give us such a blessing? This is an important reminder because many people of faith, particularly those who claim to be Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians, have ignored this part and misunderstood the next part:

5Yet you have made them a little lower
than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
6You have given them dominion
over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Those who claim to take the Bible literally often have used these verses to approve of or actually do incredible harm to the Creator’s Creation, making themselves gods in place of the Creator God. Even worse some have interpreted Scripture to give them the right and indeed the expectation that they should destroy the earth as soon as possible because that will get them to their version of “heaven” sooner.

This foolish, short-sighted and incorrect reading of the Scriptures has contributed to all kinds of destruction of the They actually have created the Creator in their own image rather than understood we are created to strive to be more and more the reflection of the Creator’s values, purposes, and ways.

Scholars with a wider perspective take the words “dominion over the works of your hands” to have a different meaning. We don’t assume that we have the right to use and abuse the Creation without regard to the consequences. What we understand is this Psalm reminds us God has given us great value, but the Creator has not empowered us with the right to destroy the Creation. In fact, from my point of view, to destroy Creation is in fact a denial of God, if not the work of “enemies” of the Creator, to use the word from verse 2!

On this “World Communion Sunday,” I want to invite us to celebrate the relationships we have been given that engage all three parts of this Psalm: Creator, Creation, and Creature. Our denomination, the United Church of Christ is beginning diligent work in developing and supporting missions that lead to “Creation Justice.” That means they are investing where the church is at work doing what is right and good in God’s eyes for the creation. The reality is this is inevitably intertwined with what is good for us as the Creatures created by the Creator God.


As a part of the United Church of Christ I would like to see us tie in and participate and benefit from the work of our Wider Church as they explore this dimension of faithful stewardship and discipleship in the name of Jesus Christ. On the UCC website there are resources to help us. Here are some of the “questions to consider” that they suggest as we think about this work:

1. Theologically: How can our congregation intentionally reflect upon God in relationship to caring for creation? How can we bring these understandings of creation care and justice into our services of worship?

2. How can we integrate care for creation into the life and work of our committees, and council? How can we embody care for creation through its building and land use policies and practices?

3. Awareness and Advocacy: paying attention to socioeconomic factors such as race, class, and global inequality, how can we research and become informed about environmental justice issues at the local, state, national, and global levels? How can this lead to congregational advocacy and action?

4. Within the UCC, what are the ways in which we can connect with others, whether it is through a conference task force, the UCC’s environmental justice newsletter, or other points of contact? Outside of the UCC, what are the ways in which your church can connect with interfaith, ecumenical, or secular partners engaged in environmental justice work?

Once we consider these questions and our responses, the UCC invites congregations to draft a Creation Justice Covenant. In the UCC, a covenant is “the most solemn and sacred commitment one can make…. It marks a serious promise to God on the part of a congregation. A covenant also entails a promise among congregants to each other as they seek ‘to walk together in all God’s ways’ (Constitution of the United Church of Christ). We would then draft a Creation Justice Covenant to be presented to the council and then the congregation for a vote. The UCC has examples and samples we can use to help us draft such a covenant. We would then vote to adopt the Creation Justice Covenant as a congregation, and then implement the plans and ideas we come up with.

I see this as a possible direction for us for two reasons: Coral Isles has already chosen to be an Open and Affirming Church, a “just world for all” church, and a “Still-Speaking Church.” This seems like a natural extension of our identity. As a church in the Keys we know and face much of the environmental disasters and injustices of our age firsthand. Doing this is a way we proclaim God’s glory as Creator of our whole Creation. And, this is a subject that matters deeply to the next generation whom we are called to reach out to in ministry and mission, and we want to reach. I don’t know what all this will entail. I believe it is more than “busy work,” but a way to refocus and gain a fresh start on the mission you have already been invested in for years.

The Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ has already begun this work. And one of the things they pointed out I found enlightening. “Leading scholars in the field of environmental justice have described the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit as one of the most significant events in the movement’s history. It was an event hosted and organized by the UCC’s Commission for Racial Justice.

In 1991, this summit literally redefined the word "environment." No longer did the word refer to remote wilderness areas and pristine natural landscapes as was often the case for largely white environmental organizations. The environment became where one lived, worked, studied, played and prayed. It became the water one drinks in one’s home. It became the air one breathes in one’s neighborhood. It became the safety of one’s workplace.


The summit produced 17 Environmental Justice Principles that are still used as a source of moral guidance for environmental organizations to this day. The Florida Conference is hosting a webinar on October 13 including 3 key participants from that early summit. I intend to sign up to view this webinar. If you are interested speak with me. We will also be able to record the webinar so if you want to watch it on your own we will make that available.

As we celebrate World Communion Sunday I see this as a natural way to also affirm our oneness with all our sisters and brothers of faith, both within our Christian faith, and across faith boundaries and borders. I think it is a real and authentic way to echo this Psalm: to say, “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” And finally I think it is the most faithful way we can fulfill God’s call to express “dominion” in the way God expresses “dominion” over all Creation and all Creatures including ourselves. Anyone interested in exploring this let me know and we will work together! AMEN.



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