Devotion, April 22, 2020, Earth Day
Scripture: Read Job 12.7-10
Several weeks ago, the New York Times featured a special section entitled, “The Great Empty.” The pages of the section held solitary pictures from iconic places all over the world. The pictures showed places normally crowded with people, empty. There was a beauty of these places revealed without human congestion and pollution. Since then, news broadcasts have shown us pictures of how these places have changed without the elements that cause what has become a virtual cloud of smog in many of the world’s largest cities.
Many of these places were architecturally designed to be a common area to gather. They are places created for our well being as communities. Now they stand, almost empty of human life. In the pictures, we see the beauty and the creative abilities of those who imagined and created these spaces. While there is sadness in their desolation, there is also hope. As we have socially isolated, these empty spaces remind us that “we have not yet lost the capacity to come together for the common good.” (NYT: Mar 29, 2020, Special Section, p.3)
Beginning in Genesis, poetic in the Psalms and scattered throughout scripture, we have affirmations of faith regarding God’s great gift of creation. In these affirmations, there are also reminders for humanity of the purpose of these gifts is to care for them. The scriptures remind us we are to be in a relationship with God, with one another, and with all of creation. Our United Methodist Social Principles elaborates our scriptural understanding by saying
“All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings.”— United Methodist Social Principles, 160
Ken Leinbach, Founder and Executive Director of the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, was a former parishioner of mine. We would often have staff retreats or church events at one of the Center’s locations. Leinbach, too, in his vision and teaching would say that our care of the earth is a reflection of our relationships. He says that when we care for each other, we care for the world.
There is a beautifully illustrated children’s book entitled, Today is the Birthday of the World. In it the story shares the special day of the birthday of the world when God and all the Earth’s creatures celebrate the beauty of the life. God asks each dear creature whether he or she has been the best that they can be. This simple celebration of life and goodness applauds the contributions of every person and aspect of creation. All work in harmony to create beauty.
On this Earth Day, I pray that we might be reminded of God’s gifts of creation and our relationship to them. May we not only see beauty, but work in harmony to create beauty for generations to come.
Dear Creator God, on this Earth Day and all days, let me always be in awe of Your wonderful works of creation. I don’t want to take the details of the world You created for us for granted. You, Lord, are both an Engineer and an Artist that built a world, with beauty, to perfectly sustain life. Help us to be partners with you to care for your gift of creation. Amen.