And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1: 9-10
April 22nd is Earth Day; some are now referring to the whole month of April as Earth Month. For the past century, we have come to realize more and more the destructive capacity of humanity on the natural world. We have the capability to alter radically this creation that God called good. And we are. Tragically so. On Ash Wednesday, we repented to God “for our waste and pollution of your creation” (BCP 268). Some of what we have done has been unintentional, but far too often, it has been because of “our lack of concern for those who come after us” (BCP 268). We have concerned ourselves too much with short-term gain without taking into consideration the long-term costs. Our children and our grandchildren will be paying off the environmental debts that we are racking up right now.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for God’s creation. At the end of the first chapter of Genesis, we are told that humanity has been given dominion over creation. This has been misunderstood by some to mean that we can use, even abuse, creation however we would like. But Scripture teaches us quite clearly that dominion from a Christian perspective means to be servants, not lords. We were invited to be stewards, not rulers, of creation. We are to appropriately use, not abuse, this gift that God has given us.
There is a beautiful prayer in The Book of Common Prayer on page 827 that reminds us of the proper meaning of the first chapter of Genesis. Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Throughout this Earth Month, I invite you to pray this prayer with me. And may each of us do our part to care for and be stewards of this gift that God has given us.