Tag Archive | Genesis 2:15

Care of the Earth: The Vital Imperative of the 21st Century

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and TAKE CARE OF IT. (Genesis 2:15)

The earth has endured an increasing array of disasters over the past several years: floods, tsunamis, forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes – all in increasing numbers. The past three weeks have seen the most powerful and destructive hurricanes on record do devastating damage to large areas of the United States and the Caribbean. “Harvey” and “Irma” have wrought billions of dollars of damage to major cities and entire states and nations, much of which will take years to recover and rebuild – and it appears more is on the way to these same areas – “Maria”.

The reason or ‘blame’ for all this is argued by various factions of society: some say it is God’s wrath for our godless actions, some blame religions or minority groups – and all this finger-pointing only serves to further exacerbate the tribal divisions that are plaguing our society. The arguing also directs attention away from the clear causes ratified over and over by scientists and meteorologist: it is the rapid and dangerous effect of our changing climate and the plundering of the earth caused by a dramatic increase in the earth’s population and the resulting demands for more energy.

More people demand more fuel and for over 100 years, that demand has been answered by increased use of fossil fuels, oil, coal, and natural gas. As these burn, the carbon dioxide produced builds up in the earth’s atmosphere, acting as a ‘blanket’, holding in heat, and thus warming the temperature of the earth, i.e., ‘global warming’.

Other human actions also contribute to throwing our earth’s equilibrium off-balance: increasing destruction of forests, big commercial agriculture and construction, chemical pollution of our waters by industry, and rampant populate growth.

Unless we attend to this growing destruction of our planet NOW, consequences and costs will be much more severe. So, pointing fingers of blame to elements of societal prejudice really harms us all. The blame is on each one of us, and the responsibility for correcting the problem resides in each of us as well!

Here are some things we all can do right now:

  1. Get involved; contact your local, state and federal representatives and express your support of measures to decrease our carbon footprint. Encourage legislators to impose carbon taxes on those energy polluters.
  2. Be energy efficient; switch to efficient light bulbs and try to minimize your use of energy, particularly those that contribute to our carbon footprint
  3. Trim your waste; carbon dioxide and methane gas from landfills contributes to the increase in earth temperature, so try to use recyclable goods.
  4. Minimize driving; drive as little as possible. If you can’t use public transportation, look at energy-efficient automobiles (either hybrids or electric), or carpool.
  5. Green your community; work within your community to reduce the use of non-green energy, reduce waste and work with organizations that encourage/legislate for clean energy.
  6. Stay informed; belong to elists and organizations that are actively working to switch to clean energy and reduce our carbon footprint.

Moreover, perhaps it is time for all of us at Saint John’s to move together to promote these ideas and actions within our community and the world.

We pray for the healing of the earth, that present and future generations may enjoy the fruits of creation, and continue to glorify and praise you. Amen.
 
 
Written for Crossroads, Saint John’s Episcopal Church of Worthington and Parts Adjacent, 18 September 2017

And It Was Good . . . But Not So Much Any More!

God created the heavens and the earth and everything on it – and it was good (Genesis 1:1-25).

And then God created man and woman (Genesis 1:27) – to either “work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15) or “have dominion over all” (Genesis 1:28).

But, we, the people God created as part of His creation, have made a big mess of it. As world populations have grown, we have not been good stewards of our planet. We have polluted the air, dirtied the water, raped the earth, and removed essential elements without concern for replacement and renewal.

The American Indians and many other people remind us that the earth does not belong to us; we are to preserve it (Genesis 2:15) and pass it on to our children. We have a responsibility to preserve both the Earth and everything in it.

However, we have treated the earth like it belongs only to us; many animals are becoming extinct and whole areas of the earth are no longer suited to grow that food needed to feed the people of the earth. There are millions of people in the world who lack clean drinking water, others are starving to death due to constant war and living habits that strip the earth of its nutrients suitable for growing food. Major corporations are appropriating clean water to bottle and sell at exorbitant prices. Global warming, basically caused by human activity, is destroying the world’s eco-balance and eliminating thousands of miles of shoreline.

We are in the midst of a crisis of our own making. But not is all lost yet! Creation is a process that is still happening. We can choose to repair creation or destroy all that is being created anew.

There are many things that we can do to stop earth decimation:

1. Look at your carbon footprint

  • Use less fuel – walk instead of drive
  • Open the windows instead of turning air conditioning on
  • Choose less gas-guzzler automobiles
  • Support the development of clear alternative fuel sources

2. Go “green”

  • Use renewable/reusable products
  • Participate in your local recycling program
  • Boycott genetically-modified foodstuffs
  • Use cloth shopping bags (or paper, but not plastic)
  • Use locally-grown fruits and vegetables

We are stewards of this world we live in, and it is time for us to take this responsibility seriously. God gave us this earth and we must care it for so that we can pass on to future generations the beauty and bounty that was given to us. It is no longer someone else’s responsibility –

it is ours! and

the time is now!
 
 

Written for Connections, Diocese of Southern Ohio, 1 April 2017

“EVERYONE is Our Neighbor

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, (Galatians 3:28)

This teaching of Jesus that was central to his life and work, was not only revolutionary in His day, but continues to form the core of the work for social justice by Christians and non-Christians today.

The idea that we are all created equal children of God, and must treat each other as friends and neighbors, regardless of their personal endowments or social situation lies at the heart of what we ‘say’ we stand for as followers of Jesus. Just as the New Testament teaches us that God created all of us as his children, so did the Old Testament teach us that God created us to be stewards (Genesis 2:15) of His Kingdom – not only the land, but all resources AND all living things that live upon the earth.

This means all people of the earth! It means all of us: ourselves, our families, our friends, those we do not yet know, those who we will meet in the future, and those who are our enemies or want to do us harm.

EVERYONE!

Yet now, we seem to be, increasingly, a nation and a world divided. After 75 years of working to build one world through peaceful liaisons, disarmament, and sharing of resources, once again we see a rapid push towards nationalism and regional sectarianism. Many people are turning their backs on their neighbors and wishing to build a ‘cocoon’ to ensure that those who are ‘different’ are shut out, demonized, marginalized, and in some cases, criminalized.

Regardless for the reasons for this drift to isolationism – be they religious beliefs, geographical separation, social mores, elitism, racism, or prejudice, they all stem from fear. There is a tendency to define some people as ‘others’, ones to be avoided, excluded, demonized and denigrated. Whether because of personal fear or cultural upbringing, each group feels the right to protect their world and their future by doing everything in their power to ensure that no one who is ‘not one of them’ thrives in their world. In some cases, laws are written to exclude ‘those people’ from the basic rights all people should enjoy.

But God did not put us on this earth to build societies that segregate and alienate. Scripture tells us

let us love one another, for love comes from God. (1 John 4:7)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

The topic of this edition of Connection centers on ‘neighbors’. But what is a ‘neighbor’? Does it mean only those that live on the block we do, or go to our church, or are members of our social clubs, or as in the Old Testament, all Israelites, no matter where they lived. In the New Testament, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus expanded ‘neighbor’ to be those who were enemies or considered ‘unclean’. This is made clear in Matthew 5:44-45:

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

There was no distinction between the righteous (Hebrews) and anyone else (unrighteous) living on the earth. The second Commandment

‘Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)

expanded the definition of ‘neighbor’ to the whole world.

Our planet is shrinking. With 24-hour news service and the internet we can immediately see the needs of other people around the world as if they were right next door. With faster modes of travel, we can reach far off places in hours, not days. Whether we like it or not everyone is our ‘neighbor’.

If we are to follow Jesus’ teaching about our neighbors, it is incumbent upon us to expand our vocabulary from ‘us and them’ to ‘we’. We are all in this together; whatever affects someone in Somalia, Afghanistan or Orlando, affects each one of us. If there is injustice anywhere in the world, sooner or later we are all affected by it. We have been given a Biblical imperative to

to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8)

Notice that it says ‘your God’, not ‘our God’. One of the great dividers is the concept that Christianity is the only true religion, all others are false. We must remember that we all worship the same God, no matter what name we give him, . . . and that we are ALL children of that same Creator. Therefore, it is commanded that we ‘do justice’ for all people.

The real and imagined walls we seek to build to keep ‘the other’ out must be dismantled – brick-by-brick, lie-by-lie, prejudice-by-prejudice. And when injustice exists, we must speak out in love, not in violence, we must be persistent and unflagging in working for justice for all, or there can be justice for none. To remain silent, to say “this is not my business”, is to aid and support forces of evil in our neighborhoods and our world. We have become so accustomed to daily shootings and violence that we hardly take note of it, or simply say ‘another one’. We hide in our living rooms watching 24-hour news and observe ‘what a shame’ or at least ‘we don’t have that here’, or have no reaction at all. To quote a recent protest poster: ‘Silence = Violence ‘.

If we are willing to accept God’s mercy, we must show that mercy to others. We must welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the suffering, and defend the weak (Matthew 25:42-46). All of these people are our ‘neighbors’.

It is time for us to come out of our safe, secure homes and go into the world, living into the commandments and teaching of Jesus to live among and care for our neighbors. They are not so different from us, and when we get to know them, and eat with them, we will be able to build a better world for everyone. But first, like the Good Samaritan, we must cross the road.

To quote Henri Nouwen:

“We become neighbours when we are willing to cross the road for one another. There is so much separation and segregation: between black people and white people, between gay people and straight people, between young people and old people, between sick people and healthy people, between prisoners and free people, between Jews and Gentiles, Muslims and Christians, Protestants and Catholics, Greek Catholics and Latin Catholics.

There is a lot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the street once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might become neighbours.”[1]

 

[1]      Henri Nouwen Society, “Crossing the Road for One Another”, http://www.henrinouwen.org
 
 
written for Connections, Diocese of Southern Ohio, 28 July 2016