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Earth stewardship

by Bob Docter –

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth – all you can see, all you don’t see.
Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, and inky blackness.
God’s spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss …
and then …
God spoke …

Earth Day, April 22, has come and gone. We can now return to our slowly awakening awareness of our responsibilities to this magnificent home God shares with us. Our exploding population on this small, spinning hunk of dirt and water demands that we pay more attention to it – not less.
Earth Day attracted fewer people in the United States this year than last. We must not make environmental concerns a political issue. We are stewards of a gift from God. He created this place – just the right distance from the sun, on an axis tilted exactly the correct number of degrees, providing us seasons and soil, spring and autumn, water and wonder, April and September. He gave us the lush meadows for repose, the stately trees that shade us, the quiet pools for refreshment, the ever flowing stream promising life.

Undoubtedly, the Earth was very important to God. He speaks of it over 730 times within his lessons for humanity, his Word.

The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, the world, and all who live in it;
For he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

And then – a question for another of God’s creation, mankind – us.

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Those with clean hands and pure hearts,
Who do not lift up their souls to idols or swear to false Gods.

His Son came to live among us to provide us a first hand interpretation of God’s hopes for mankind. His arrival had been prophesied for centuries. Then, one sweet sacred day he arrived. In harmony with God’s plan for humanity, he developed into adulthood, fully mature. He walked the highways and byways of Earth and spoke a message of hope and love along with stern consequences for ignoring his Father’s will for humanity.

Both the religious and civil power structures of the time saw him as a threat. Each had his own reasons. He had to be silenced. So, they killed him.

His message was both powerful and simple, simultaneously. He spoke in ways that told stories with paradoxical plots, the meaning of which required germination in receptive soil. Passing through weary workers, bearded men old before their time leading yoked oxen – and burdened women carrying heavy water pots on their heads, he said:

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I and gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

He taught about principles anchored in the heart rather than rules determined by external authority. He modeled personal freedom along side individual responsibility. His words spelled out the context of character as residing in the qualities of compassionate care in relationships – especially with those less fortunate, but, nevertheless, brothers and sisters. In his instructions to “go the extra mile” his teaching of pacifism was designed to energize brotherhood not quiet, dispassionate nonresistance. To him, true pacifism was achieved through good will.

As he began his ministry, he urged them to reject the superficial prayer of t he hypocrites who seem only to wish to be seen favorably by others. Instead, he said, pray simply. He then outlined a model prayer addressed to the hallowed name of his Father in heaven that includes the line:

your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What an audacious idea – that we should pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Heaven – a place filled with the people God love. A place where people love their neighbor, even someone very different from us with a different culture, different language, different status, different skin color, different belief system, less attractive, less intelligent, less wealthy. We are called to love that exact person we find most difficult for us to be around – our own Samaritan.

Then, on this earth we will find heaven.

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