God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And so it was. …And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:10-11
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers. Psalm 24:1-2
Some humans have long forgotten that they do not possess the earth. Throughout history people have used land for their own ends. Wilderness areas were cleared for farming; villages and cities were built where they could be best defended or where there was easy access to commerce; and dams were built for flood control, irrigation or to produce energy. This was not necessarily wrong if done in a way that respected the relationships within the community and with creation. Selfishness ad greed though have often been the determining factors and little acknowledgment is given to the fact that “The earth is the Lord’s” and we are caretakers not owners.
In the technological world we now live in, the way we use land and water has even more of an impact on neighbors. An industrial plant emitting pollutants into the air in Ohio can destroy the forest in Vermont or Norway; a chemical released into a river can destroy the fishing and contaminate the drinking water down stream – remember Flint; and the weapons of warfare can change the ecological makeup of a large are for generations – remember napalm in Vietnam. The world community is being destroyed by such actions. God has charged us with the responsibility of caring and preserving the earth for all of creation. When will we approach “our plot” with humility and a willingness to share and care/
Other humans are neglectful and apathetic about the earth. We cut down trees and neglect to replace them. We insist on using the resources of the earth without regard for the needs of the generations to follow us. We resist legislation that might control pollution or demand more responsible use of resources because the cost of goods that we want might be increased. We fail to acknowledge climate change even though the evidence is overwhelming.
The biblical story of the Israelites tells us that the land was part of their covenant with God. They were not to neglect the land. They were to use it wisely and allow the resources to be used by all, including the generations to come. God has kept the covenant with us, but we are not keeping our part of the covenant. The earth is rebelling from our sinful neglect and abuse.
God has and is still offering us the gift of creation on this Earth Day, 2018, God is still asking us to be responsible stewards of that creation. Together let us become involved in ministries of healing the creation and making peace with the earth in order to bring about healing and peace to the people of the earth.
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.