Our earth is a product of God’s ebullience and so are we
Liz Stuart, 27 September 2020
Deuteronomy 8: 7–18; 2 Corinthians 9: 6–15; Matthew 9: 35–38
A few thoughts on our readings today as we give thanks for the harvest.
St Matthew tells us that everywhere Jesus went he attracted crowds and, more than that, he saw them, felt their presence and felt for them. But whereas others, including Matthew, classified such people as ‘sick’, ‘harassed’ and ‘helpless’, Jesus talks of them as a ‘harvest’.
Where others see lack or fragility, Jesus sees bountiful fruitfulness – such beauty that he wants to gather it, gather them all, into his Father’s kingdom. He sees with the vision of God. Rabbi Joshua ben Levi said that before every human being go hundreds of angels shouting, ‘Make way, make way for the image of God’. Jesus saw those angels. Do we? We cannot be a labourer in God’s harvest unless we see our fellow humans as Jesus did.
Rabbi Joshua ben Levi said that before every human being go hundreds of angels shouting, ‘Make way, make way for the image of God’. Jesus saw those angels. Do we?
Our reading from the book of Deuteronomy portrays Israel’s salvation in terms of a rich, beautiful, bountiful land in contrast to the arid wastelands of their past. It is God’s gift. God does not want his beloved children existing in arid wastelands; he wants them to enjoy a green and fertile earth.
I have been reading the medieval theologian, Meister Eckhart. He talks of God as bullitio, bubbling or boiling over. First God boils over into the Trinity and then into creation. It is an image of ebullience (that’s where this word comes from), of a joyful God with an inability to contain himself. Our earth is a product of God’s ebullience and so are we. To exploit or scar the earth is to the scar the loving face of God. It is to create our own arid wasteland, our hell. There is nothing inevitable about it, and it only reveals how far we are from the one who is characterised by joyful abundance.
To exploit or scar the earth is to the scar the loving face of God. There is nothing inevitable about it, and it only reveals how far we are from the one who is characterised by joyful abundance.
We are called before all else, as St Paul notes, to be an image of God’s abundance – to be a people whose hearts beat to the rhythm of giving, not taking; whose lives boil over in joy and love for our fellow human beings, our fellow creatures and the earth herself – all of which God has given us out of his ebullient heart.
Harvest is a time when we pause to give thanks for God’s boiling over and commit ourselves to recognising the angels before every leaf that falls in autumn winds, every creature that lives, every human that breathes, angels singing, ‘Make way, make way for God’s ebullience’.