“The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24: 1
The President in his weekly broadcast tells the world, on the eve of Earth Day, “we only have this one world”. The concerts on the Washington Mall with a quarter million people in attendance project the same message: THIS IS THE ONLY WORLD ENTRUSTED OUR CARE! For those of us in the church: What are our plans as stewards of “everything in the world and all who live in it”?
Remember filmstrips? It was back in the 70’s I shared with a youth group a filmstrip produced by the Presbyterian Church. If I recall correctly, the title of this filmstrip was “The Big Blue Marble”. In my memory as a pastor, this was one of my first attempts to sensitize those around me in the church to become stewards of the world around us. Stewardship isn’t just about our use of time and talents and money in building up the church. In specific ways, we are called be activists for this beautiful globe God has entrusted our care. So my question: Are we ready to re-commit as advocates in caring for the earth?
I write this blog because I am frustrated. It is spring and everything is slowly turning green. I am looking out my study window watching a handful of neighbors working on their lawns. I am also well aware that many in our world are limited when it comes to a basic resource: water. This has become a clear issue for me in watching my 2 year old grandson living in California playing in one inch of water in his little pool. It’s a given that water cannot be wasted! He is learning how to dive into a pool of plastic balls instead of a pool of water. It’s also a mandate that those living in California cut back water usage by 25%. What have we done (or not done) in caring for thus beautiful earth?
I am also frustrated because this issue of climate change has become a political grenade…being tossed back and forth waiting for the next natural disaster to strike. With the issue of global warming in the political arena, there can be no winners. There will always be a “right” and “left” in assessing blame for this crisis. Is there a place for the church in reconciling some of the differences we find between the “right” and the “left” on the political spectrum?
And then we have the issue of what we teach in our schools? Who’s at fault for this deterioration of our world’s natural resources? Are we going to depend on FOX NEWS or MSNBC for our information? What are we going to hear from our pulpits about this issue? What twists and turns are we going to hear these next 18 months as the our nation electes a new President? I have lot’s of questions!
I see very little that is positive emerging from the political arena when it comes to protecting this “Big Blue Marble” for future generations – our children and grandchildren to enjoy. I am frustrated because the depressing fact remains: The “Big Blue Marble” is fast drying up and turning brown! But this doesn’t have to happen! I still believe there is power to be found within the church — faith communities drawing upon our spiritual resourcefulness in attacking this issue of climate change in caring for this earth.
It is a good thing that the church is recognized earth day on many of their liturgical calendars. I know this is the case in the Presbyterian Church. This is the weekend many in the church will be promoting positive change in the use of natural resources—those things we can be doing as stewards of this beautiful earth.
I ran into a good article by Rebecca Barnes titled “Caring for God’s Creation” that talks of a certification process for churches pledging to care for the earth. This pledge emerging from the 1990 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church says,
God calls us to cherish, protect and restore the earth, and it focuses on four areas: worship, education, facilities and outreach. It encourages environmental education and public policy that supports environmental protection. It emphasizes stewardship so that God’s holy creation will be sustainable for all life and future generations.
It’s time to shift conversations about climate change and care for our world away from the politicians and back into the church. It’s time to look at the care for our world as an issue of stewardship in demonstrating that “people of faith” know the problem and how to solve it….in caring for the holy ground God has entrusted our care.
Some of the eleven suggestions (paraphrased) from the Barnes article for “Earth Care Congregations”:
- Celebrate Earth Day in worship
- Vacation Bible School programming
- Home energy audits
- Purchase of fair traded products
- Insulation blankets on water heaters and pipes
- Thermal shades on windows
- Automatic controls an faucets
- Reusable supplies
- Purchases from local vendors
- Stewardship of resources with local plantings
I hope and pray that God will enter our hearts as we gazed upon this beautiful world of blessings God has entrusted our care. I hope and pray that we all find ways to take one or two steps forward in making this a better world in which to live.
May God bless us in these efforts….
 Rebecca Barnes, Presbyterians Today, Vol 105, Issue 2, March 2015, pg. 30)