Help Me to Follow

By Jessica Hetherington

This devotional is based on Jesus’ lesson about building a house on rock versus sand and is meant to strengthen us in our discipleship as we seek a new path toward the cross this Lenten season.

Opening Prayer

God of Life,
Earth is in chaos right now:
global heating is rising;
species are being eliminated;
oceans are warming and permafrost is melting;
people are being flooded and burned out of their
Ecocide is everywhere.

It feels like the Earth community in which we live
is no longer what we once knew;
it feels like the ground on which we stand
is no longer solid the way we once thought it was.

But we know that when we stand on you:
on your Word
on your life, death, and resurrection
on the way you showed us to live,
then the ground beneath us is, indeed, rock.

We know that when we stand in you:
in the Earth community,
in your good creation,
in the fullness of life itself,
that you remind us of our interconnection
our interdependence with and among all of life,
and give us the strength and courage to seek Earth healing.

Help us, then, to stand on you.
Help us to build our faith in you.
Help us to follow you
in our lives,
in our actions,
in our seeking of climate justice and Earth healing,
so that our discipleship will be steadfast and firm.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:24-27


It is not uncommon to find many global corporations offering ‘eco-safe’ alternatives. Whether it is biodegradable coffee pods or cups to hold your fries, ecological sustainability has become the new marketing and marketable tool. We are encouraged to be ecologically sensitive by purchasing environmentally sustainable products. The point of this is that the burden of our ecological crises is placed on the individual consumer rather than the corporations who are far greater polluters. Even further, this kind of environmental action does not consider the larger structural question. It does not discern that the environmental crises that we are living through are caused by the logic of consumerism and the continual profit-seeking mechanisms of capitalism. This is indeed a very poor foundation on which to build a culture and society that is ecologically sensitive and sustainable.

The text from Matthew speaks to us about building wise foundations. In Palestine, during the time of Jesus, houses were built directly on the ground and did not have foundations. The stability of the house, therefore, depended directly on the ground on which it was built. Were it to be built on sand, in times of rain when the wadis filled and there was flooding, houses built on sand would be washed away. On the other hand, a house built on a rock would stand firm.

Unfortunately, our world today is built on weak foundations. Our economic systems are built on the idea that there are unlimited resources that can be plundered and that we can spew out as much pollution as we like. As a result, the land, the air, and our oceans are poisoned, bio-diversity is being destroyed, and the Earth is literally crying. The consumption of bio-degradable products is not going to save us; we must change the logic of consumerism itself.

Significantly, the passage from Matthew echoes Proverbs 14:1 which says, “the wise woman builds her house, while the foolish woman brings it down.” This is a text about wisdom. But how do we gain such wisdom that will allow us to build up and build up on firm foundations? Perhaps another text from the wisdom literature in scripture will help us. Job 12:8, the foundational verse of the Decade for Climate Justice of the World Communion of Reformed Churches says, “Speak to the earth and it will teach you.” And this is what we should be doing. Speaking to the Earth, learning from her ways in order to be able to building on firm foundations for a sustainable future.

Intercessory Prayers

Oh, gracious God
who created and is still creating,
we give you thanks for your good creation,
for this Earth community in which we live, move and have our being.
We give you thanks for the particular ecosystems, the animals and plants, the ways in which the Earth in formed where we live:

[Name the kind of climate in your community, the landforms, indigenous animals and plants. If you don’t know what they are, look them up!]

We give you thanks for the first peoples of this land [name them]
who have tended to this land in relationships of respect and reciprocity for generations.

We give you thanks for all those who care for this land today:

[list the name of the Indigenous communities present and specific environmental groups and organizations]

God, we praise you for the diversity of life on Earth,
we praise you for granting us the gift of science,
that teaches us about Earth and our place within it,
and for the gift of faith, which helps us to learn what it all means.

God, we repent of the ways in which we have distorted the science
in order to use and abuse the Earth for our benefit no matter the harm it causes;
we repent of the ways in which we have distorted our Scripture
to justify the evil domination and subjugation of Earth and its peoples.

Forgive us, O Lord. Help us to stand on rock and not on sand.

God, as we move to stand on rock, we pray for all those in need today:

  • the rising climate and all those harmed by global
  • species at risk of losing their homes and their lives
    through extinction;
  • the waters, soil, and air that have rising levels of
  • habitats being destroyed for large-scale agriculture and
  • vulnerable people here and elsewhere who are the
    least responsible and the most affected by the
    ecological and climate crisis.

God, we lift up all this suffering, and those who are suffering in more personal ways, knowing that all is connected.

Help us to be your hands and feet in the world,
knowing that with and through you, everything is possible.
In the name of your son Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Closing Prayer

Life-giving God,
as we leave this time of worship today,
may we go out into the world,
the Earth community that you created and are creating,
to seek Earth healing,
to work for climate justice,
to stand on the rock of your Word,
so that our lives may be ones of faithful action in the world.

Rev. Dr. Jessica Hetherington, United Church in Canada: Jessica seeks to inspire people of faith to transform their lives and actions in response to the ecological crisis. This leads to action toward Earth healing, deepened relationships with God and nature, and renewed experiences of discipleship.

This is the third in a series of Lenten devotionals focused on the climate crisis. Download the devotional booklet.

Image: Albin Hillert/Life on Earth

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