Tag Archives: Earth Day

Stewards of the Environment

We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers. We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity. Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen. 1979 Book of Common Prayer

Another Earth Day (April 22) has come and gone. It is now May, the flowers are blooming and the trees are thickening each day with shades of green foliage. Robins hop around my front lawn in search of fresh worms after the recent spring shower and the finches are rebuilding their annual nest in the straw wreath that hangs by my front door. I can easily sit back and watch Mother Nature unfold. But I also realize that the seasons during this past year have been unusual. In 2011, Connecticut had over 4 feet of snow, in 2012 we had a few dustings. We had a week of 80-degree weather in March and the forsythia, magnolias, tulips and daffodils all blossomed 6 weeks earlier than usual.

Our environment is changing. Whether this is all God’s plan or not, we humans have responsibility for the care of the Earth, our garden home. We are currently facing extreme climate variability – the earth’s warming is occurring 10 times faster than had previously been estimated and the polar ice sheets are dropping at 10 meters per year. One of the qualities of leaders of the future will be to have “bio-empathy” – the ability to see things from nature’s point of view; to understand, respect and learn from nature’s patterns. Nature has its own clarity, if only we humans can understand and engage with it.

I believe it is the responsibility of our faith community to lead the way in teaching how to be good stewards of our environment. And it can start in our own churches, modeling good practices: recycling all bottles, cans and paper; not using Styrofoam coffee cups (better yet – use real dishes); using electronic means for communication; not relying on print paper for Sunday bulletins. Add your own ideas!

The climate challenge is about respect for God’s creation. How could the wisdom of our Christian tradition help people engage with the dilemmas of extreme climate change? What is the carbon footprint (the contribution you are making to global warming) of your church?  How can churches prepare to react with vision, understanding, clarity and agility in facing the challenge before us and future generations?

There aren’t easy answers and it’s not something we can each do on our own. But individual working together can make a difference. Check out these places to start:

And some formational resources:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. 

From Barren to Fruitful

An early bloom from one of my magnolia trees.

My garden is confused. This past week seemed like June instead of April. It has been a week of unseasonable weather. Following a Nor’easter one week and another of monsoon rains, this week saw sunshine and record high temperatures.  Forsythia usually blooms in southwestern Connecticut around April 15th, followed by the tulips, lilacs and magnolia trees a month later. This week, they all bloomed together.

There’s been lots of pro and con editorials in my local newspaper whether global warming really exists. With the huge cold and snowfall this winter, several ‘locals’ say it’s a scientist’s imagination. But global warming is about dramatic fluctuations and erratic weather patterns. March and April are prime examples that our planet is in danger.

April 22nd is Earth Day. Lots of communities and churches will note the day with ceremony, events and prayer. But what about the

Early flowering lilacs.

other 364 days? There are lots of resources for individuals and faith communities to reflect on what it means to be a steward of God’s creation. And how to protect what we have left for future generations.

Faith & Nature: The Divine Adventure of Life on Earth by Phyllis Strupp  (Morehouse Education Resources, 2010) is an intergenerational spiritual formation program that explores and embraces how God is at work in nature. It is a downloadable resource here. You can preview another award-winning book by Phyllis called The Richest of Fare about spirituality in the Sonoran Desert.

To Serve and Guard the Earth by Beth Bojarski (Morehouse Education Resources, 2010) connects the growing Christian environmental concern with the theology of creation in Genesis. It too is a downloadable resource for adults and high school youth.

The National Council of Churches of Christ’s Eco-Justice Network also offers numerous programs on sustainability, climate justice, global warming, and stewardship of the environment.

The Season of Creation is designated as four weeks in September, but can be celebrated at any time of year. Rogation Days in the spring time as well as The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 6th might also be considered. The Web of Creation as well as the Season of Creation websites have lots of ideas to offer.

Speaking of Faith for Small Groups: Sustainable Faith is a downloadable resource with MP3 files to continue the conversation from Krista Tippett’s popular radio program. Discuss your role as a steward of the planet and how to make sense of the current climate of challenging political and environmental issues. Inspire conversation and introspection about the choices we make about nourishing ourselves, both nutritionally and spiritually. Hear from experts working to meet needs on the frontlines of suffering in both Africa and New Orleans. Meet a host of inspirational people brave enough to challenge the establishment to ensure that both the planet and the people who inhabit it are protected.

An early busy bee

A Reflection on our Present Plight
Hildegard of Bingen

The high,
the low
all of creation
God gives to humankind to use. If this privilege is misused,
God’s Justice permits creation to punish humanity.