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I apologize for my absence here – it has been a crazy and exciting few weeks. Last week, our creation care ministry was approved as a Partner of Grace Church, which is a tremendous vote of confidence in our new ministry and opens many, many doors for us going forward. Then last weekend was our Weekend of Service, in which we had over 400 people participating in caring for creation around central Indiana. Over the weekend and in the days since, I have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what God is doing at Grace and beyond when it comes to His command to us to care for His creation. I thought this poem of Wendell’s was appropriate:
We used this prayer for our prayer walk this week at Grace, and I thought it was so beautiful that I wanted to be sure to share it. The leader says the plain text verbiage, and everyone responds with the text in bold.
Loving God, we remember that Jesus taught us to pray saying, “Our Father…”
You created us, you made this world, and you called your creation very good. Yet often we forget that you are our loving Parent who continues to bless your world.
Jesus told us that you are “…in heaven…”
Yet we fail to live in awe of you. We take you for granted, and we don’t see the awesome beauty of the world you have made.
We pray, “Hallowed be your name…”
We confess that our reverence for you does not always lead us to care reverently for your earth, sky and sea.
We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”
We confess that we often put our own interests first-exploiting your creation, and living for our own convenience and self-interest.
We pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”
We confess that we consume more than our share of the world’s resources, while billions go hungry every day and your whole creation suffers.
We pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
We confess that we see these words only in spiritual terms, while the Bible is filled with teachings about economic justice and creation care.
We pray, “Save us from the time of trial.”
Help us to resist the temptations of spending more, using more, acquiring more, and wasting more.
We pray, “Deliver us from evil…”
Free us from greed and self-centeredness that separate us from you and others.
We pray, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.”
Help us to know that in caring for your wonderful world, we are working for your kingdom, being good stewards of your creative power, and giving you glory.
We pray, “Amen.”
We end our prayers with “Amen,” a word that means “let it be so.” We know we can be faithful disciples by your grace. Amen!
“That we live now in an economy that is not sustainable is not the fault only of a few mongers of power. We are all implicated. We all, in the course of our daily economic life, consent to it whether or not we approve of it.”
Wendell Berry, in his Jefferson Lecture
Last Tuesday in worship, Shane Benjamin talked about the difference between dominion and domination. Humans were given dominion over creation—that is, God asked them to take care of it. God gave them a garden and everything they needed, more than they needed, and God trusted them with all of it.
God asked them to work with creation, in and through and alongside nature. But the wounds of sin cause us to lash out in fear and a need for control. Instead of having dominion, we seek domination. We live on this earth aggressively and violently, destroying and dominating rather than caretaking. Concrete and metal and machines and big agriculture separate us from the ground from which we were made, and our relationship with adamah, with the created order, and with our food is broken.
God created us for a life of abundance and intimacy with God, with one another, and with creation. Our walls of separateness and domination cannot stop God from being a God of abundance. God always has leftovers.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2).
God’s original plan was to hang out in a garden with a bunch of naked vegetarians. So let’s get naked—metaphorically. Let’s throw away the fig leaves and receive the gift of healing that God offers us. Let’s tear down some walls and build a garden instead.
(you just knew I was going to sneak that last one in there!)
From a letter in support of the Catholic Worker Movement’s campaign against frac sand mining in Minnesota:
I will say, first, that there is never, for any reason, a justification for doing long-term or permanent damage to the ecosphere. We did not create the world, we do not own it, and we have no right to destroy any part of it.
Second, most of our politicians and their corporate employers are measuring their work by the standards of profitability and mechanical efficiency. Those standards are wrong. There is one standard that is right: the health of living creatures and the living earth.
Third, we must give our need to eat, drink, and breathe and absolute precedence over our need for mined fuels.
Every day is Earth day, right? But since I do love Earth Day so much, I like to celebrate it all week long. Yesterday, I shared some stuff to read related to environmental stewardship; today I thought I’d share some things to DO related to caring for creation:
- Garden (come back for more getting-started resources on this one later in the week): whether you have space for one small pot or a backyard just dying to be converted into a vegetable garden, gardening is one of the best ways for you to begin caring for God’s creation (including your own health too, of course!). And while you’re at it, plant a row for the hungry and donate your extras to the Grace Care Center Choice Pantry.
- Go for a walk – on a local trail, at a local park, in your neighborhood. Get outside and enjoy God’s creation wherever you find it.
- Ditch the chemicals (or ditch the lawn altogether)
- Get rid of single-use items (paper towels, paper napkins, disposable silverware, etc.)
- Volunteer at your local animal shelter
- You’re already recycling and reducing, so spread the word to friends, families and neighbors
- Join a CSA (check out the upcoming informational meeting for Victory Acres if you’re still looking for a CSA)
- Volunteer with local conservation organizations like the Central Indiana Land Trust, your city’s park department, and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to name a few!
- And join the Grace Creation Care ministry if you haven’t already – we need you!
Add your suggestions below!
- God, Green, and the Gospel: An Earth Day Reflection
- From the Salt Lake Tribune: “If we profess a love for God, for each other, our neighbors as ourselves, shouldn’t we be protecting what God loves, which is the creation?”
- Earth Day 2013 focuses on climate change
- Read this and join us in asking our faith leaders to preach about creation care
- IVP has some Earth Day deals on some great reads (Making Peace with the Land is a must-read, so get your hands on a copy if you haven’t already)
- Why John Piper recycles
- Creation care on the front page of the Indy Star this morning!
What are you doing to celebrate God’s beautiful creation on this “official” Earth Day?
Do you need a little something to encourage you with “Earth Week” coming up? Or maybe something to share with friends that think your green tendencies are weird? Check out this great short film on creation care from Northland Church:
“The great mistake we make is when we assume that the land can be abused to improve the people.”
Wendell Berry, from his interview on the Diane Rehm Show in November (listen to the whole thing)
I found this interview with Eugene Peterson (author of The Message translation of the Bible, among other great books) and Peter Harris, one of the founders of A Rocha, several months ago and meant to blog about it then, but it somehow got lost in the mess. Read the whole thing. Some of my favorite tid-bits:
If, on the other hand, you do what you do because you believe it pleases the living God, who is the Creator and whose handiwork this is, your perspective is very different. I don’t think there is any guarantee we will save the planet. I don’t think the Bible gives us much reassurance about that. But I do believe it gives God tremendous pleasure when his people do what they were created to do, which is care for what he made.
I think the Christian vision of conservation is exactly as Eugene framed it. It’s a wider one that has to do with human flourishing, that has to do with recognizing that a ravaged creation has wrecked not just species but God’s intention for time, for Sabbath, and that in turn wrecks families and whole societies.
Every Christian leader I’ve ever met in poor parts of the world understands that they live an unmediated relationship with the creation. That means that if there is damage done to the creation, there is damage done to the human community. I would argue that the economic possibilities lie now in the building of a sustainable economy; that’s where the smart money is today. In any case, an economy founded on degrading the creation is theologically incoherent. The old model that you can make your money any which way and then give some of it away when you’re rich enough is lacking biblical warrant. A much better way is to make money in a way that impacts the poor and the planet beneficially.