God’s Creation, Earth’s People,
August 2, 2015
Karl Barth, an important Swiss theologian of the early 20th century, used to say, “The Christian must go out into ourworld with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” This service seeks to equip all of us to do just that. Hear the Word of GOD: from Genesis 1: 26-28
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’
KATE: God’s creation, each piece called “good”, has been left in our charge. But we’ve been tripped up over our understanding of two words. The word DOMINION does not mean domination or exploitation but to take responsibility and to be good stewards. The word “subdue” relates to a time when human life was especially fragile in the face of threats from snakes and wild animals that could bring harm.
ED: But our Creator own this universe, even though God has called us to be in charge. Here’s one verse from the Psalms 24: “The earth is the
LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”
KATE: A good reminder, isn’t it? We all know that creation is full and we live with more than plenty. We are surrounded with an unsurpassed abundance of food, aren’t we? Hingham is extraordinary! Any day of the week,
you and I can market at Hannaford’s or Stop and Shop in addition to Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, the Fruit Center and Whole Foods! And, on Saturday, we can head down to the Farmer’s Market for fresh, local produce. WE ARE IN HOG HEAVEN! In those markets we are greeted with bins of fruits and vegetables, perfectly shaped, open refrigerators storing milk and
eggs, cheese and butter, seafood on ice, water bottles on the shelves, and all the trimmings, the sodas and chips, chocolate and coffee, junk food galore—from all over the world! We are well aware that this isn’t the case in most parts of the world, even in the United States where, (according to Feeding America) 20% of our children live in (Feeding America) “food insecure households.”.
NORM: And the human family is growing. In terms of population, there are 7.3 billion people on the planet. ACCORDING TO A REPORT BY THE UNITED NATIONS, THE WORLD’S POPULATION IS EXPECTED TO GROW TO 9.6 BILLION BY THE YEAR 2050. GLOBAL DEMAND FOR FOOD, WATER, AND ENERGY IS PREDICTED TO INCREASE BY 35%, 40% AND 50 % RESPECTIVELY BY 2030. THIS WILL FURTHER TEST NATURE TO PROVIDE FOR US, AS WILL THE EXPANDING MIDDLE CLASS AROUND THE WORLD.
Boston Common Magazine, summer, 2015
KATE: This unprecedented consumption poses enormous challenges for the entire planet. Some countries are already feeling the pinch with depleted food stocks and lack of clean water. In recent years, more food was consumed than produced.
And global resources aren’t just about food, as we know…..
BUD: : Food is among many concerns The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) offered a recent report:
“The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished and the sea level has risen owing to the concentration of greenhouse gasses. This will continue in the 21st century along with increased acidification of the oceans, harmed marine ecosystems, threatening our food security. The production of crops like wheat and rice is also projected to be negatively impacted as well as risks to human and animal health and a greater prevalence of disease. This is compounded by the severity and frequency of storms, social and political instability.
ED: We see the human responsibility to care for creation in the Sabbath laws of the land of Israel: (Exodus 20:8-10)
“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the resident alien in your land.” following that, this practice: (Leviticus 25:4)
But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for the Lord.”
KATE: Reading our newspapers (and reflecting on biblical values)
is sobering information, isn’t it? For the Christian and others who are challenged by this situation with a moral perspective, the fact that the poorest are hardest hit is very troubling. The world’s majority are in the wake of the storm. They are least protected when there is a shortage caused by violent storms, drought and flooding. We’ll get by. They won’t.
ED B: Jesus teaching is full of what liberation theologies today call “the preferrential option for the poor.” From the Gospel of Luke, we hear Mary’s song before Christ’s birth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He
has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” Luke 4:18-19). from Luke 19: “For the son of man came to seek and to save the lost” from (Matthew 25:40).
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me”
So, when we turn on the weather channel and see the hard evidence this world that “is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, we ask: IS THERE HOPE? Yes, indeed! Caution, yes, and challenge aplenty. But according to Peter, a leading conservationist and founder of Conversation International,
NORM: “Many governments, businesses and local communities are realizing the importance of nature to the global economy, livelihoods and security. They are NOT standing on the sidelines watching as nature is depleted. They are engaging and taking actions to ensure that nature is sustainable.”
KATE: In business columns of our newspapers, we are seeing what is, perhaps, the tipping point in investment in fossil fuels. Investors—religious, cities and towns, and individuals—are turning away from fossil fuel invests and making the transition to clean energy.
BUD: LAST YEAR, AMERICA’S CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY CREATED NEARLY 80,000 JOBS AND THE US SOLAR INDUSTRY ALONG EMPLOYS 143,000 PEOPLE. IN MASSACHUSETTS, FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW, THERE HAS BEEN JOB GROWTH IN ITS CLEAN ENERGY SECTOR HIT DOUBLE DIGITS, MOST RECENTLY, 10.5 %. THERE ARE NOW OVER 5,900 FIRMS EMPLOYING 89,000 PEOPLE. IT’S A $10 BILLION SECTOR IN THE STATE’S ECONOMY—AND GROWING”
from Boston GLOBE, 9/9/14
KATE: There is a lot of push-back from many investors, and, if you have asked your financial manager these questions, you may not have found a sympathetic ear. However, short-term, investment managers are seeing carbon-free investment returns that are holding their own. Long term, the costly effect of climate change will make the fossil fuel bubble burst.
There is a growing activism in our own beloved town:
THE ARTICLE Green Team at Hingham High
KATE: Faith communities around the world have not stood by the sidelines. Many in the religious community have put together “the bible and the newspaper” concerning the environment. Out of this cry from many sources to care for creation was born “Interfaith Power and Light,” that promoted congregational action and the Jewish organization “Guardians of the Earth.”
NORM : Since the 1980s, Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of 400 million Eastern Christians, became known as the “green patriarch” for his straightforward reckoning that environmental desecration was just that, a sin. Desmond Tutu, South African and Noble Peace Prize winner, has called climate change the “human rights challenge of our time.” Now, Pope Francis: “It is humanity who has slapped nature in the face. We have in a sense taken over nature. The effective struggle against global warming will only be possible with a responsible collective response that goes beyond particular interests and behavior…..On climate change there is a clear and definitive ethical imperative to act…”
BUD: Our own denomination, the United Church of Christ, has been a voice of compassion and concern early on. Bill McKIbben, founder of 350.org wrote about our denomination and it was printed in last Sunday’s GLOBE. “Another Bay Stater, Jim Antal, has traveled Massachusetts from one end to the other, often by bicycle, preaching constantly about climate change. But he’s also worn his clerical collar to jail, most notably at the first big mass arrests protesting the Keystone pipelin in Washington. In lockup, he helped celebrate a Sunday morning service in CD’s central cellblock.”
KATE: You as an individual and THIS CHURCH in particular have much support and many resources to help us move into a more active role in caring for creation.
ED: Back to our scriptures: When Paul wrote letters to new Christians during the conquests and exploits of the Roman Empire. He recognized the cry of nature in response to the human crimes against it—made obvious by human injustice and by the ravages heaped on the natural world,
From Romans 8: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now and not only the creation but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly as we await the adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:19-23).
NORM: Yes, we are to read the Bible with new eyes and see all the places where creation/nature is present and where it is suffering
and groaning. Seek to respond with the empathy of Paul and the compassion of God for this suffering creation. Become the children of God who will bring hope and restoration to creation.
KATE: What can YOU and WE do? WHERE ARE YOU INVESTED?
- Practice REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE as spiritual disciplines, as prayers, as acts of service. (Drink water and show bottle and Keurig thingy)
- What do we do as a faith community?
- the way we do for missions, educating our youth and ourselves
- Connecting with others who are already on this path—HHS, other churches, local and in our denomination and elsewhere
- See our acts as a spiritual discipline: when we plant a seed, cut down on paper napkins, buy a hybrid car or car pool; when we grow, purchase and eat food with gratitude and intention, we participate in care of the earth
- Become an ACTIVIST—if $$$ buys Washington, how do we respond? The only thing that can win over organized money is organized people.
And, finally, thank God for the goodness of the earth when you take a short walk in the moonlight just out your door, listen to birdsong, walk in the surf. Put Bible in one hand, open it, along with the newspaper, and find good news relevant to caring for creation.