Sunday, September 24, 2017

World Rivers Day

River Celebrations

World Rivers Day logo

The fourth Sunday of every September is World Rivers Day; founder Mark Angelo reminds us, "Rivers are the arteries of our planet; they are lifelines in the truest sense."

In addition, this year the fourth Sunday of September is River Sunday in the liturgical season of creation emphasis. Every year I design a Season of Creation series; here's my River Sunday design for 2017. Will the LA River, currently a.k.a. The World's Largest Storm Drain {flood control channel}, become a "river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing through the middle of the city?"

Season of Creation 4A - River

Sunday School

This double riparian party time excited me because I facilitate the {mostly-Revised Common Lectionary} adult SS at the church I attend; this morning I focused on the Philippians pericope, and began with the serendipitous start of the Philippians church. Acts 16 recounts how Paul and Timothy went to Roman colony Philippi in Macedonia, then to the river on the sabbath to find an ad hoc synagogue {if there was no local synagogue, Jews would gather at the river to form a minyan or at least to pray together}, then finding Purveyor of Purple Cloth Lydia by the riverbank, finally the baptism of Lydia and her entire family.
Acts 16

12and from Neapolis to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13On the sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home." And she prevailed upon us.

Most major cities originated and grew up alongside a river; waterways are strategic nodes of communication, commerce, immigration, and exchange of ideas. The early church always baptized in the flowing water of a river; a river is a dynamic, open system. How about our walk by faith? A participant at our August Green Faith Team meeting suggested being baptized in the Los Angeles (San Diego, Amstel, Cumberland, Chicago) River, identifying with the city beside the river banks, especially seeking the well-being of that river and that place. Decades ago the US Army Corps of Engineers contained the Los Angeles river in concrete, because as a flashy river it flooded easily and overflowed into neighbor communities. But... how will the Los Angeles River become a river of the water of life?

The second appointed reading for today, Pentecost 16, is from the apostle Paul's "epistle of joy" to that church at Philippi where the Roman caesar was the default divinity. In 1:27 he counsels the Christians to live their public, political lives "in a manner worthy of the gospel" as witnesses to Jesus' death and resurrection—not to Rome's death-dealing imperialism.
Philippians 1:21-30

25...I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. 27Only live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28and are in no way intimidated by your opponents...

On Sunday mornings we've recently come from studying several passages from Paul's letter to the church at Rome; in chapter 8 he reminds us true children of God lovingly steward creation in ways that authentically reflect their divine origins and birthright:
Romans 8

19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

River Walking

Will the Los Angeles River soon become a bright as crystal source of life-giving water for the city? As part of my quest to learn more about its history, to find out ways I fruitfully can live baptized in the city of this river, late Saturday morning I joined a River Nature Walk that started and ended along the LA Riverside at the Friends of the LA River's Frog Spot outreach center in Elysian Valley. A US Forest Service employee introduced the activity; our guide works for the US National Park Service. When will the Los Angeles River become a bright as crystal river of the water of life? The guide told us most of its water already is tertiary potable!

Paul counseled the Philippian church to live out their baptism as public witnesses to Jesus' death and resurrection. How about us? As we frequently observe during our Sunday morning discussions, even the smallest actions add up to big ones; they're synergistic— more than the sum of their individual parts! The early church always baptized in the lively waters of a river; a river is an open, dynamic system. Maybe I wasn't {definitely I was not} baptized in the LA River, but I live here now. It's my river. I acknowledge my baptism as wide open and God's call for me to care for all creation in the dynamism of the Spirit of Pentecost—especially for the natural world that makes its home alongside "my" Los Angeles River.

Frog Spot Frog Spot Tables
Los Angeles River
Los Angeles River
Los Angeles River
Los Angeles River
Frog Spot Riverr Friends of the Los Angeles River

Burnaby, BC is World Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo's hometown; I'll conclude with a Burnaby WRD design.

World Rivers Day Burnaby BC

PS city paradise :: urban wilderness is my blog for notes from classes I've participated in and facilitated.

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