Toronto’s Beauty

Toronto’s Beauty

This sermon excerpt comes from the first of 5 Sundays in Creation Time. This year we are exploring the question of what it means “to live with respect in Creation” (a line from A New Creed) when we live in the city. Our creation reading this week was Genesis 1:1-25, accompanied by a paraphrase from Psalm 104 and Luke 12:22-31.

 

In The Spiritual City: Theology, Spirituality, and the Urban, Philip Sheldrake argues against a common Christian notion of the sacred, which sets it apart, and then conflates the secular and the profane. Instead, he holds up another Christian way of viewing the world as sacred, where the world is seen “despite some am ambivalence, as the gift of God’s creation and as a revelation of the divine presence. As a result “the sacred” is not removed from the world or from history onto some other spiritual plane. No part of the world should be viewed as inherently opposed to the sacred . . .” In our context, we can hear this in terms where it is too easy to see Creation as good, sacred, and distant – out there. Somewhere we try to escape to, whether camping or at a cottage, and then return to our real lives, which we experience as distant from Creation. However, Philip Sheldrake reminds us that “no part of the world should be viewed as inherently opposed to the sacred.” It is not that our city is intrinsically flawed, destructive or even distant from Creation. Instead, if we remember that we, human beings, are a part of Creation, then it does not make sense to name our environment as something apart or inherently flawed. Humans were gathering in settlements and cities at the time Jesus lived, and long before that. There is a long tradition of seeing the City as sacred in Christian thought, from Augustine’s City of God, to the medieval understanding of cities, which included cities as the sites of pilgrimages. Cities are a part of our human lives, and there is no reason to deny them a place as somewhere sacred, and a part of Creation.

 

Drawing on the Luke reading, I asked what our starting point is – is it worry (stop worrying! Jesus says) or is it beauty?

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