Pastor Rich Knight
Central Congregational Church
April 18, 2021
Scriptures about Caring for God’s Creation
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. – Genesis 1
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. – Psalm 19
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy. – Psalm 96
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth: – Psalm 104
Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. – I Chronicles 29
Scripture on God’s Call to Us to be Good Stewards of the Earth
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
Here’s that same verse from another translation: The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. – Genesis 2:15
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
I Corinthians 4
The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” – Revelation 11
Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing. -Hosea 4
“If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” – Leviticus 26
“You shall not pollute the land in which you live…. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.” – Numbers 35
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. —Leviticus 25
“I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.” – Jeremiah 2
The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled; for the LORD has spoken this word. The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled, and few people are left. – Isaiah 24
“It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares.” – Jeremiah 12
Sometimes it’s fun and helpful to look at a verse from different translations, especially if it’s a really important passage, like Genesis 2:15.
NIV: 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
NRSV: The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. – Genesis 2:15
Amplified Bible: So the Lord God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.
Living Bible: The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden as its gardener, to tend and care for it.
I like that one the best.
The ancient Israelites believed that God had called them to be the gardeners of Planet Earth, caretakers of Creation.
It’s quite a high calling, isn’t it?
We can’t do it alone, can we? It’ll take entire communities, entire nations, even the whole world!
Here’s a good question: what kind of shape is the garden in? You hear gardeners asking that question to one another: How’s your garden this year? How’s it shaping up? Anything coming up yet? Is it too wet, too dry, too many weeds?
What kind of shape is God’s Garden in?
I don’t remember when I first heard about Climate Change. Probably 1990’s. “Global warming,” it was called back then. I do remember quoting a line I had heard – “It’s a big planet. We’ll be just fine.” I remember hearing about rising temperatures, global warming, holes in the ozone layer, sea levels – and the doomsday predictions of scientists. Their dire predictions sounded pretty far off into the future. I remember thinking, “Maybe my great-great grandchildren might have to deal with the changes.”
Of course, the scientists turned out to be wrong. Many of them blew it!
It’s all happened much faster than they predicted!
We’re already dealing with the effects of Climate Change!
A 2014 report from the Navy’s Military Advisory Board said: “Climate change is no longer a future threat – it is taking place now.”
In 2020 the Defense Department spent $67 million to alleviate the effects of climate change on military bases. The Pentagon views climate change as a “national security threat” because of the instability it produces worldwide.
British scientists say that England is now 30 times more likely to have a heat wave than it was just 25 years ago. Remember when summers were mostly quite pleasant, with maybe a week or two of high temps and humidity? Not anymore.
Now, I know it just snowed on April 16. But one storm on one day is only a blip, an aberration, on a planet that’s warming. On Feb. 26, 2015 a senator (Sen. Jim Inhofe, Okla.) went onto the Senate floor with a large snowball because a cold spell had hit Washington DC. “So much for global warming,” he said. Almost every middle school student today knows how uninformed that is. That’s good news, that kids today grow up knowing the truth and trusting science.
According to NASA, the Top 10 warmest years globally have all occurred since 2005. 2020 tied 2016 for the warmest year ever. We just lived through the warmest decade on record.
Rising temperatures mean warmer oceans, and warmer oceans mean bigger storms.
Illustration. In 2017 Hurricane Harvey set its sites on Houston, TX. It made landfall on Aug. 25. That day I got a call from dear friends, Sue & Jim. When I was in York Sue organized several mission trips to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. I went on the first one 9 months after Katrina, and it was incredibly meaningful. “We’ve got to do another mission trip – this time to Houston!” Sue said. “I’ll call my contact with the UCC’s Homeland Mission Board and get back to you!” Sue continued. Then on Sept. 8 Hurricane Irma hit Florida, and on Sept. 16 Hurricane Maria came ashore doing widespread damage in Florida, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Sue and Jim actually had to leave their retirement home in Florida and head north to safety. We never organized a trip. “Where do we start?” we both said. Three huge hurricanes had hit in the span of 3 weeks.
That’s a common feeling when it comes to these issues, isn’t it? “Where do we start?” “How can we even begin to make a difference?”
Speaking of storms – climate change has helped fuel the immigration crisis at the Southern Border. Why are so many folks coming from Central America? The Gulf of Mexico was incredibly warm last hurricane season (because of climate change), and two huge hurricanes devastated Honduras & Guatemala, impacting more than 5 million people. Hurricanes Eta and Iota were two of the biggest storms on record. This past Dec. 4 the New York Times had a story headlined, “2 Hurricanes Devastated Central America. Will the Ruin Spur a Migration Wave?” – and of course, it did.
Let me say this gently but clearly: if you haven’t heard about the connection between climate change and immigration, then you probably sometimes need to watch another news channel. (there’s one channel that doesn’t talk about this issue, except to call it a hoax)
Illustration. Isle de Jean Charles is a town in Louisiana that the Federal Government is spending 67 mil. to relocate because they’re losing so much of their land to rising seas. Our tax dollars are being used to relocate a town in US because of Climate Change.
Of course the problem is much worse in other parts of the world. In the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka – hundreds of thousands of people have displaced due to rising temperatures, rising seas, and devastating storms. They’re called, “climate refugees.”
Here’s the shocking truth that we’d all like to forget – the poorest nations are hit the hardest by climate change, and they are the least to blame for it!
Who are the biggest contributors to Climate Change? – the industrialized countries, like us! We’re the ones putting so much CO2 into the atmosphere. The poor are paying for our excesses.
So, Climate Change is a justice issue worldwide. It’s a poverty issue. It’s a Love Your Neighbor issue. It’s a we’ve-got-to-do-a-better-job-with-God’s-Garden issue.
As you know, there are things we all can do and must do. I’m excited that a Creation Care Group is forming in our church. They can help educate, remind us, & challenge us.
The changes are hard – driving fuel efficient cars, driving less, eating less meat, using less plastic, states & countries setting carbon emission goals.
Earth Day is this Thursday, April 22.
May I challenge us all to learn three new facts about Climate Change this week and commit ourselves to doing at last one new thing to make a difference?
Three new facts.
One new commitment.
Be God’s Gardener.