CELEBRATING EARTH DAY

Loving God means loving creation.

Why Earth Day?

Today is Earth Day. It’s a seemingly secular holiday, marked by people who hold a diverse range of beliefs. So what is its value for us as Christ-followers? Should we care about Earth Day?

 

For a moment, let’s imagine we are an architect who will soon be working out of town. We know a family member is looking for a place to live. And so, we invite them to stay in the beautiful home we built. We say, “Make yourself at home” and “What’s mine is yours” and “Take care of the place for me”.  We might even suggest they do a little home improvement while we are away.

 

Six months later, on our return, we discover the garden is a mess: trees are uprooted, the fish pond polluted, and the lawn overgrown with weeds. The house itself is no better: many doors hanging from their hinges, much of the furniture broken, and writing on all of the walls.

 

Consider your reaction! Why would you react that way?

 

Perhaps there is a parallel between the illustration and our role as stewards of God’s creation.

 

Some of us may not be convinced. Let’s be very honest: our own political, economic, scientific, and religious perspectives influence our thinking about what it means to work and care for creation. We need some guidance. Regardless of our views, let’s take a look at what Scripture has to say.

 

Through Scripture, God reminds us that He created us. He also chose to redeem us from our sinful, broken state. And when Christ returns to make us fully new, He will do the same for His creation. Paul writes, For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (Romans 8:20–21).

 

Paul also writes, For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19–20). We’re reminded God values creation so much that on Christ’s return, He will restore it—not dispose of it.

 

In the meantime, what is our role? In Genesis we read, The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). Paul explains, Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). And so, we’re also reminded Jesus expects us to steward creation in the same way as everything else He’s entrusted to us.

 

After all, stewardship is using the gifts that God has given us in the way God intends them to be used. Everything that God has made is to be stewarded for God’s glory and the good of others. Jesus invites us to steward our whole lives and this whole world for the sake of God’s kingdom and the world that He loves.

 

Therefore, this Earth Day, let us appreciate God’s creation, giving Him thanks and glory. And let us steward God’s creation: working with fellow believers, and demonstrating our love for the poor and vulnerable who suffer most when God’s creation is used irresponsibly.

 

Whether we’re taking our first step or our next step, let’s do it together as God’s people for God’s glory.

 


"We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly." —Anne Marie Bonneau

As Anne Marie Bonneau suggests, stewarding God’s creation isn’t about perfection. The key is that collectively, as humankind, we each do a little bit to decrease our negative environmental impact. Below is a list of simple ideas that includes different levels of stewardship, depending on where you are today. The idea is to examine where you are at today and go one step further. The goal isn’t necessarily to do all of these things, but rather focus two to three steps that you could take in the next 30 days to see how you can better steward God’s creation. As you engage, feel free to share your experience on social media with the hashtag #LovetheEarthAlways. 

Bags at the grocery store:

  • Beginner: Ask for paper bags instead of plastic bags at the grocery store

  • Intermediate: Buy and use your own reusable grocery bags.

  • Advanced: Buy and use your own reusable produce bags.

Food choices:

  • Beginner: Buy “ugly” produce that would otherwise go to waste

  • Intermediate: Choose to purchase locally grown produce or locally farmed dairy and meat products when grocery shopping.  

  • Advanced: Eat a plant-based diet. 

Food waste:

  • Beginner: Cut out your pre-meal snack, so you’re hungry come mealtime

  • Intermediate: Don’t make a new meal until all the leftovers in the fridge are gone. Start with smaller portions.

  • Advanced: Try composting in your backyard. Or if you don’t have outdoor space, try these apartment living composting ideas.

Paper waste:

  • Beginner: Clean up messes with reusable cloths instead of paper towels

  • Intermediate: Be intentional about how many Amazon (or the like) deliveries you ask for in a week. Keep a list of your needs and order once a week to avoid multiple deliveries and boxes in a short amount of time

  • Advanced: Plant a tree!

Picking up trash:

  • Beginner: Put everything you use in a garbage or recycling bin as opposed to littering.

  • Intermediate: Each day, pick up at least 5 pieces of trash that you see outside while you are out and about. 

  • Advanced: Organize a group of volunteers to clean the roadways near your house.

Plastic use:

  • Beginner: Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it up instead of using plastic water bottles. (If you work at a company that buys disposable water bottles for customers/guests, try boxed water instead!)

  • Intermediate: Ditch the ziploc plastic bags, plastic straws, and plastic cutlery. Instead use reusable alternatives made of bamboo, metal, glass, or ceramic. 

  • Advanced: Make homemade dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent and store them in glass jars instead of buying detergents that come in plastic bottles.

Water use:

  • Beginner: Only run your dishwasher and/or washing machine when you have a full load.

  • Intermediate: When washing your hands, brushing your teeth, and shaving turn off the water until you are ready to rinse.

  • Advanced: Time your showers for the next week and try to reduce your average shower time by a minute until you are consistently taking 5 minute showers (and don’t take baths).

1. What is your definition of stewardship?

2. Why do you think God made humankind the stewards of His creation? How would you explain this idea to a new Christian?

3. How do you feel as you reflect on the ideas shared in this article?

4. How do you hold the tension between living in this present world and anticipating God’s restoration of Creation on Christ’s return?

5. Why do you think Christians can’t agree on a response to the environmental challenges we face?

6. How well do you think the Church represents the God of Creation to our neighbors and to the world?

7.How would God have us interact with people who love God’s creation but don’t love God? What are the implications of all truth being God’s truth?


For Kids & Teens

1. How would you explain stewardship to another person?

2. Why do you think God made people the stewards of His creation?

3. What is a part of God’s creation you feel drawn to care for?

1. What struck you as you read the Bible passages?

2. Why do you think God made humankind the stewards of His creation?

3. How have the Bible passages expanded or challenged your thinking about stewardship?

4. What are your feelings as you reflect on the ideas at the heart of the Bible passages?

5. How do you hold the tension between living in this present world and anticipating God’s restoration of Creation on Christ’s return?

6. Why do you think Christians disagree on a response to the environmental challenges we face?

7. How well do you think the Church represents the God of Creation to our neighbors and to the world?

8. How would God have us interact with people who love God’s creation but don’t love God? What are the implications of all truth being God’s truth?

9. As a group, pick one area and each commit to taking the next step in stewarding God’s creation.

 

1. What does it mean to be a steward of something? What have you been a steward of before?

2. What are some of the biggest challenges you have experienced when it comes to caring for the environment? Have you had experience with others disagreeing with your thoughts on caring for Creation? What is that like?

3. What does it mean to you to appreciate God’s creation and steward it? How have you seen others do this well? Where do you think they have not done this well? How do YOU personally want to contribute to appreciating and stewarding God’s Creation?

 

We invite you to pray for all of God’s creation, with thanksgiving for God’s goodness, lament for the brokenness we experience, and petition for God’s plan to make all things new. You can lift up prayers to God in your own words, and you may also choose to use these written prayers to help give voice to your prayers. Try praying these with your family or friends, having one person read the plaintext, and everyone joining together for the bold text. 

OPENING PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING FOR EARTH DAY

We thank God for the world he has made,

and for all his love and care.

For the warmth of the sun,
God of all creation,
we give you thanks and praise.

For the rain which makes things grow,
God of all creation,
we give you thanks and praise.

For the woods and the fields,
God of all creation,
we give you thanks and praise.

For the sea and the sky,
God of all creation,
we give you thanks and praise.

For the flowers and the animals,
God of all creation,
we give you thanks and praise.

For families and holidays,
God of all creation,
we give you thanks and praise.

For all your gifts,
God of all creation,
we give you thanks and praise.

Amen.

- from Common Worship by the Church of England



A PRAYER OF PRAISE FOR THE EARTH 

Jesus, Lord of the Earth

By you all things were created

All creeping things, all flying things,

All living things, all dying things,

The highest hills, the deepest seas,

The strongest gale, the slightest breeze,

The blossom on a cherry tree,

A spinning spider’s artistry,

The smell of dry earth after rain,

Each cell within a human brain,

Each fallen leaf, each towering pine,

Reveals your intricate design.

 

Creator Lord, we stand amazed,

And for your earth, we give you praise.

Jesus, Lord of the Earth

For you all things were created

The smoothest pebble on the shore,

Detritus on the forest floor,

The undiscovered depths of space,

The wrinkles on a baby’s face;

Each sparrow and each human hair

Is numbered and is in your care,

All iron and oil and diamonds too,

Whilst used by us, belong to you,

Forgive us Lord, for we forget,

All things are yours, and yet,


Provider Lord, we stand amazed,

And with your earth, we give you praise.


Jesus, Lord of the Earth

In you all things now hold together

All of earth’s greatest mysteries,

And all our personal histories,

Each planet and each grain of sand,

You hold them in your nail-scarred hands,

You feed the birds and clothe the flowers,

You warm the soil and send the showers,

You sound the rhythms of the earth,

Of tides and seasons, death and birth,

It is for you creation sings,

The head, the centre of all things,


Sustainer Lord, we stand amazed,

And with your earth, we give you praise.


Jesus, Lord of the earth

In you all things are made new

Lord God before all time began,

Yet you became a Son of Man,

You stepped into the world you made,

A world once good, now spoilt, decayed,

As Son of Man your death reversed

The chaos of creation’s curse,

The earth itself quaked on that day,

Released from bondage to decay,

All things are reconciled to you,

Creation’s hope is born anew.


Redeemer Lord, we stand amazed

And with your earth, we give you praise.


Jesus, Lord of the earth

By you all things were created,

For you all things were created,

In you all things now hold together,

In you all things are made new.

And all creation cries Amen!

By Dave Bookless

A PRAYER FOR STEWARDS OF THE EARTH 

May we always walk gently upon the Earth,

in right relationship,

nurtured by your love,

open to the wind of the Spirit,

taking only what we need,

always open to the needs of others,

making choices that bring wellbeing,

living with generosity,

striving for justice,

honouring all with reverence,

reconciling and peacemaking,

mindful of those who will come after,

recognising our proper place as part of your creation.


Grant us the strength and courage, Lord,

for such a radical transformation into your Kingdom.

Amen. ~ from Christian Aid and Christian Ecology Link.


GRATITUDE LIST
God’s creation is amazing, because God is amazing! We can see just how wonderful He is by looking at all of the things He has created. As a family spend some time making a list of everything you can think of that God has created. After you compile your list, spend time praying to God and thanking Him for His creativity in creating each of those things.

Some tips to help your family:

  • PRESCHOOL: Your little ones know so much about God’s creation through their five senses. You can help them think through plants and animals God has made by drawing, acting out, and making sounds that remind them of each thing.

  • ELEMENTARY: Set a timer for 3 minutes, and have each person write down as many things (plants, animals, landscapes) they can think of. After the three minutes are up, share the list out loud and make a family list!

  • TEENS: Send each member of the family on a mission to find one of the most unique things that God has created. Can anyone find something that no one else has ever heard of? Use your phones/tablets to find pictures and some interesting facts.

SCAVENGER HUNT
God is so creative and nature reflects that fact over and over!  We can learn about who God is just by experiencing what he created in nature. Take a walk with your family and notice all the different things God has created and how beautiful and different each one is! 

Click here to get the scavenger hunt list.

 

SPEND TIME OUTSIDE

Enjoy some time out together in nature, and spend some time “noticing” what God created using your face senses. What do you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste outside? Share with one another what you experienced simply being outside together.


Some questions to discuss afterward:

  • What did you enjoy about being outside?

  • What surprised you?

  • What made you feel most connected to God?

  • What does spending time in Creation tell you about what God is like?)