Today is world day of prayer for the care of creation; established in 1989 this is a relatively new event on the Church calendar. Unfortunately, I find that often creation care is only a concern in more mainline and left leaning churches; and then, often only because it is tied up in social concerns. However, creation care is an issue for the Church and one which needs to be taken seriously. I am not talking about secular environmentalism and its somewhat (or perhaps pseudo) religious counterpart. This environmentalism puts stress on issues of global warming and maintaining the planet for posterity. Frankly, I find these to be of secondary importance (trust me I care about providing clean water for my daughters).
In his series of Lost World books John Walton has done a remarkable job of developing the theology within the first few chapters of Genesis. He has pointed out two very important ideas when it comes to creation care. 1. Creation (not earth, all creation) was made by God to be a temple housing God’s presence. 2. Humanity was created to maintain and care for that temple. If Walton is right (spoiler he is) then creation care is a major theological issue for the Church of all times and places. Creation care, not necessarily the social concern of environmentalism. How we maintain and manage the temple God created reveals what we think about God. If we abuse creation we think too much of ourselves and do not respect God’s position. If we simply allow creation to move on “naturally” we fail to take our role as custodians and improvers of creation seriously. Our thoughts should always be toward developing creation into the best possible temple for our God.
One might ask, “If creation care is such a fundamental part of theology, why has it not been prominent until now?” Good question. I am sure I do not have all of the answers to that (and some would take volumes to adequately develop). But, I think there have been some theologians who have discussed this idea and certainly individuals like St. Francis of Assisi, or the early Celtic saints took creation very seriously. We must also remember that part of the Christian duty is to cultivate creation as the temple of God. That is God established the temple and we continually work to improve or at least redecorate the temple. Until the industrial age there was little humanity could do to scar the land other than war (whatever your view on just war death and destruction go hand in hand and were considered impurities to the land). Today thanks to ever advancing technology we are able to impact creation like never before. We possess technology to make creation bend to our will, and this is evil. Evil because we are supposed to bend creation to God’s will and not our own.
We are God’s children called to God’s purposes and among those purposes (and pretty high on the list) is custodians of God’s temple. Today is a useful day for the Church because it reminds us of our duty. Let us pray that we do God’s will in bettering the Temple we call the universe. Let us not get bogged down in the petty selfish debate about perpetuating the species. Can we ask the big questions does God appreciate how we are maintaining the waterways? Today is a day to lament over our failings to care for God’s temple a day to praise for this temple and our role within it, a day to reorient ourselves to God and recommit to our work as the Church. With that in mind,
Sovereign creator, we are your servants, you have made us caretakers of your holy temple. Forgive us our shortcomings and failures. Grant us vision to see creation for what it is and wisdom to maintain it to your liking. Help us to remember that creation is yours and for you not ours or for us. May we care for creation in a way pleasing to you and worthy of your kingdom come. In the name of Christ Jesus our lord. Amen.