Blessed Tomorrow: Caring for Creation Today

It is mid-August, which means some of you have just sent off your kids to college for the first time. Others are long past that point. For others it still lies ahead. For those of you who were just part of the August ritual of sending off your kid to college -- we can’t blame you for trying to cover everything. That parent geyser love is strong; you are deluged with feeling. From all the lessons from looking both ways before crossing the street to the parting hug of your child at the step of the college dorm there are things we ALL need our child to know:

  1. I love you.

  2. You are a child of God and nothing will ever change that. Don’t have to earn it, but you should live like a child of God.

  3. You are responsible for yourself. You’ll need to take responsibility even when it is hard. You are making more and more decisions, and you need to know every decision has consequences. Some are good, some not so good. Some you can anticipate; but many will catch you by surprise. But know that the choices you make affect your life, those you love, and sometimes even total strangers. 

This brings me to our topic today - the issue of our relationship to our environment - the idea of environmental stewardship, which is also just quite simply love of neighbor. You can think of it as love of God and of nature.

For some time, I have felt that this concern is important to address. Faith communities are increasingly called upon to demonstrate leadership when speaking about the moral imperative of action, reducing their own climate impact, providing sanctuary in times of need, advocating for strong policies, and guiding its congregation and the larger community toward the development of solutions.

The biblical writers were convinced that human beings and all other creatures are united in a network of shared life. The ultimate redemption of creation does not end with human beings, but includes everything from the anemone sea urchin to the zebra. We are all tied together as creatures beloved by the creator. What affects some affects all, and the choices of some have consequences for all.

And if we are all united in one network of shared life, then that means we are all connected. And if this is true, then matters of the earth are not just a scientific conversation; it is a faith conversation. Therefore, if we are thoughtful in our faith, our faith does not ignore science. Nor does science ignore the role of the moral and virtue landscape that is central to a faith community’s wheelhouse.

Therefore, let’s look at that science in regards to the earth, our planet. The science is overwhelming. Carbon dioxide is on the rise, trapping heat. The icecaps are melting. The planet is warming. Asthma is on the rise. Couple that science with what we see happening more often each year: oil spills from pipelines, groundwater pollution and earthquakes from fracking, the destruction of natural habitats for both salt and freshwater fish, and the fact that the number of events requiring a disaster declaration has more than quadrupled to about 400 a year worldwide (according to the United Nations), and the trend is clear. The earth is running a fever and is getting sicker.

Which leads back to you the point I made earlier, every decision has consequences, and when you know what those consequences are, you need to be responsible.

So the question for us is this: What is our responsibility when we look at environmental stewardship? Can this be the thing that our children’s children will look to us not in dismayed disappointment, but with gratitude and inspiration? It matters because the whole creation is groaning, because every decision has a consequence. We have learned the consequences of our own decisions; now is the time for us to find our way to live better.

Want to find a better way to live better?

Join one of the challenges below. Want to hear more from Pastor John on this topic? Listen to his entire sermon here under August 18:

1 - Take our plastic reduction challenge and earn fun prizes!

Track your effort to reduce plastic consumption in the form of water bottles, grocery bags, and straws. Individuals and families with the greatest reduction efforts will receive prizes!

2 - Pledge your support by signing the PCUSA Climate Care Challenge:
Join others throughout our denomination by pledging your efforts to care for God’s creation.