This morning I am continuing my series on Christian organizations concerned about creation with a post of the Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation which is available through the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). The EEN is a ministry dedicated to the care of God’s creation. EEN seeks to equip, inspire, disciple, and mobilize God’s people in their effort to care for God’s creation.
Founded in 1993, their ministry is grounded in the Bible’s teaching on the responsibility of God’s people to “tend the garden” through a faithful walk with our Lord Jesus Christ. Based in the scriptures, EEN publishes and develops material for churches, ministries, families, and individuals to use as they seek to know the Lord more fully, especially his care for all that he has made. They are hosting the Global Day of Prayer for Creation Care & The Poor on April 26, 2012 in Washington DC.
Evangelical Declaration On the Care of Creation
The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof- Psalm 24:1
As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full authority of the Scriptures, and aware of the ways we have degraded creation, we believe that biblical faith is essential to the solution of our ecological problems.
Because we worship and honor the Creator, we seek to cherish and care for the creation.
Because we have sinned, we have failed in our stewardship of creation. Therefore we repent of the way we have polluted, distorted, or destroyed so much of the Creator’s work.
Because in Christ God has healed our alienation from God and extended to us the first fruits of the reconciliation of all things, we commit ourselves to working in the power of the Holy Spirit to share the Good News of Christ in word and deed, to work for the reconciliation of all people in Christ, and to extend Christ’s healing to suffering creation.
Because we await the time when even the groaning creation will be restored to wholeness, we commit ourselves to work vigorously to protect and heal that creation for the honor and glory of the Creator—whom we know dimly through creation, but meet fully through Scripture and in Christ. We and our children face a growing crisis in the health of the creation in which we are embedded, and through which, by God’s grace, we are sustained. Yet we continue to degrade that creation.
These degradations of creation can be summed up as 1) land degradation; 2) deforestation; 3) species extinction; 4) water degradation; 5) global toxification; 6) the alteration of atmosphere; 7) human and cultural degradation.
Many of these degradations are signs that we are pressing against the finite limits God has set for creation. With continued population growth, these degradations will become more severe. Our responsibility is not only to bear and nurture children, but to nurture their home on earth. We respect the institution of marriage as the way God has given to insure thoughtful procreation of children and their nurture to the glory of God.
We recognize that human poverty is both a cause and a consequence of environmental degradation.
Many concerned people, convinced that environmental problems are more spiritual than technological, are exploring the world’s ideologies and religions in search of non-Christian spiritual resources for the healing of the earth. As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that the Bible calls us to respond in four ways:
First, God calls us to confess and repent of attitudes which devalue creation, and which twist or ignore biblical revelation to support our misuse of it. Forgetting that “the earth is the Lord’s,” we have often simply used creation and forgotten our responsibility to care for it.
Second, our actions and attitudes toward the earth need to proceed from the center of our faith, and be rooted in the fullness of God’s revelation in Christ and the Scriptures. We resist both ideologies which would presume the Gospel has nothing to do with the care of non-human creation and also ideologies which would reduce the Gospel to nothing more than the care of that creation.
Third, we seek carefully to learn all that the Bible tells us about the Creator, creation, and the human task. In our life and words we declare that full good news for all creation which is still waiting “with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God,” (Rom. 8:19).
Fourth, we seek to understand what creation reveals about God’s divinity, sustaining presence, and everlasting power, and what creation teaches us of its God-given order and the principles by which it works.
Thus we call on all those who are committed to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to affirm the following principles of biblical faith, and to seek ways of living out these principles in our personal lives, our churches, and society.
The cosmos, in all its beauty, wildness, and life-giving bounty, is the work of our personal and loving Creator.
Our creating God is prior to and other than creation, yet intimately involved with it, upholding each thing in its freedom, and all things in relationships of intricate complexity. God is transcendent, while lovingly sustaining each creature; and immanent, while wholly other than creation and not to be confused with it.
God the Creator is relational in very nature, revealed as three persons in One. Likewise, the creation which God intended is a symphony of individual creatures in harmonious relationship.
The Creator’s concern is for all creatures. God declares all creation “good” (Gen. 1:31); promises care in a covenant with all creatures (Gen. 9:9-17); delights in creatures which have no human apparent usefulness (Job 39-41); and wills, in Christ, “to reconcile all things to himself” (Col.1:20).
Men, women, and children, have a unique responsibility to the Creator; at the same time we are creatures, shaped by the same processes and embedded in the same systems of physical, chemical, and biological interconnections which sustain other creatures.
Men, women, and children, created in God’s image, also have a unique responsibility for creation. Our actions should both sustain creation’s fruitfulness and preserve creation’s powerful testimony to its Creator.
Our God-given , stewardly talents have often been warped from their intended purpose: that we know, name, keep and delight in God’s creatures; that we nourish civilization in love, creativity and obedience to God; and that we offer creation and civilization back in praise to the Creator. We have ignored our creaturely limits and have used the earth with greed, rather than care.
The earthly result of human sin has been a perverted stewardship, a patchwork of garden and wasteland in which the waste is increasing. “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land…Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away” (Hosea 4:1,3). Thus, one consequence of our misuse of the earth is an unjust denial of God’s created bounty to other human beings, both now and in the future.
God’s purpose in Christ is to heal and bring to wholeness not only persons but the entire created order. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 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” (Col. 1:19-20).
In Jesus Christ, believers are forgiven, transformed and brought into God’s kingdom. “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (II Cor. 5:17). The presence of the kingdom of God is marked not only by renewed fellowship with God, but also by renewed harmony and justice between people, and by renewed harmony and justice between people and the rest of the created world. “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isa. 55:12).
We believe that in Christ there is hope, not only for men, women and children, but also for the rest of creation which is suffering from the consequences of human sin.
Well-known author Shane Claiborne calls CCSP Cascadia, “ a space where you can re-imagine the way we live.” Come join the inaugural CCSP Cascadia semester September 2013 and re-imagine new community based ways to live…new ways to become agents of sustainable change through organic gardening, social entrepreneurship & creation of resilient local communities.
CCSP Cascadia http://creationcsp.org/programs/cascadia/ is located half way between two urban centers of sustainability innovation, Seattle and Vancouver BC. Situated on 40 forested acres on Camano Island by the Salish Sea, the Cascadia program offers abundant opportunities for sea kayaking, backpacking in the Cascades, as well as discovering a clearer sense of the call of the Creator God on your life.
Cascadia http://creationcsp.org/programs/cascadia/ is CCSP’s first North American based program, and the first Christian off-campus study program exclusively focused on sustainability. Here are the course options.
Cascadia Core Courses include:
- God and Nature: Theology of Community and Creation Care http://creationcsp.org/programs/cascadia/god_and_nature2/
- Social Entrepreneurship and Environmental Justice http://creationcsp.org/programs/cascadia/pacific_northwest_ecosystems/
- Global Environmental Studies http://creationcsp.org/programs/cascadia/environmental_literature2/
- Native American Worldview: Conceptual Models of Stewardship and Sustainability
- Sustainability Internship/Field Study http://creationcsp.org/programs/cascadia/internship_elective_Cascadia/
This cutting edge program is a partnership between CCSP http://www.creationcsp.org/ and Mustard Seed Associates (MSA) http://msainfo.us/. Like all CCSP’s programs Cascadia’s mission is to be “agents of, and to participate in, God’s shalom, particularly through care of creation.” It is overseen by CCSP’s academic committee, and is run using CCSP’s educational philosophy and policies. Thus, CCSP Cascadia is a CCSP program through and through, only it is managed day-to-day by the visionary and dedicated MSA team.
This spring CCSP Cascadia was introduced to CCSP’s supporting schools for approval, and so far the reception has been positive. The first college coordinator responded “It Looks impressive! I am sure we will be able to get approval without too much difficulty.” We hope to hear word regarding approval from all CCSP’s supporting colleges by the end of April.
We are limiting this inaugural class at CCSP Cascadia on Camano Island http://msainfo.us/mustard-seed-village-2/ to 12 students for our January 2013 Semester. So, if you are interested or know of a student who might be, please contact us immediately. We will quickly send you a detailed description of CCSP Cascadia and answer any questions you may have ranging from field placement to recreational opportunities in the Northwest.
Contact team leader, Dr. Tom Sine, today with your questions and/or the names of other students who might also value receiving information about CCSP Cascadia Tom@msainfo.org 206-524-2111
Mustard Seed Associates… creating the future one mustard seed at a time www.msainfo.us
What is biblical care of creation? One of the ways to do this is to focus on our biblical call to stewarding God’s gift of the world to us. Are we careful of this beautiful world? Are we worthy of his trust?
On April 22nd, many of churches will take part in Good Seed Sunday. This initiative from the Christian environment stewardship group, A Rocha, equips the church to care for creation through a resource-based creation care website.
Over the past 5 years A Rocha has worked with over 150 churches across Canada promoting environmental stewardship. The resources for Good Seed Sunday are available with the following contact information: www.goodseedsunday.com, 604-542-9022, or email@example.com.
The link takes you to sections that provide you with resources in the following areas:
- Church Service Package
- Bible Study and Small Group Materials
- Sunday School Teacher Kit (ages 4-11)
- Action Projects
- Online Community
- Living Lighter Resources
- Daily Reflections and Devotionals
- Resource Library
Let us all hold this topic wisely, carefully and faithfully, not being embroiled in political issues or in indifferent camps, but rather, honestly doing each of our individual and church community parts, to be responsive and responsible to God for the beautiful world we have been given.
Living lightly reflects joyful simplicity. Be sure to take small steps and make things fun! Change is maximized when the entire household is on board. Some suggestions for individuals and families:
1. Reduce waste. Try to recycle, compost food waste, and avoid disposables.
2. Clean with care. Buy environmentally-friendly cleaning and body care products that are biodegradable, safe for the water, and better for your health.
3. Green your yard. Avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Try reducing the area of high-maintenance lawn in your yard and replace it with native species of trees, shrubs, or grasses, requiring less water. Choose species that attract birds and butterflies.
4. Slow the energy flow. Try hanging clothes to dry, turning off lights, and unplugging appliances and computers when not in use. Choose high-efficiency appliances when buying new.
5. Renovate sustainably. Consider recycled materials and purchase eco-products. Paint fumes, fiberglass insulation, and adhesives can be health hazards.
6. Be informed. Subscribing to online newsletters or e-news, like A Rocha’s, can help you stay current on local, national, and international environmental concerns, celebrate where positive change is occurring, and assist you to make choices that are better for the world community.
7. Live locally. Use public transit, walk, cycle, or carpool where possible. Consolidate trips, and when replacing an aging vehicle, look at fuel-efficiency.
8. Maximize household efficiency. Clean fridge and freezer condenser coils, fix cracks in window and door frames, wash full loads, fix leaky taps, insulate walls and ceilings, and even dust light bulbs!
9. Use “stuff” well. Try to make new things last longer by keeping them in good repair. Donate unwanted stuff to thrift stores. Have a garage sale. Swap meets and thrift stores have great bargains too.
10. Involve the kids. Give each child a special responsibility or chore so they can experience being a part of the action. Or let them inspire you–learn to see the awesomeness of creation through their eyes!
Sunday April 22nd is Earth Day but why should Christians care? Over the next few days I plan to post statements from several different religious organizations that are concerned for creation.
The post below comes from earthministry.org. It very eloquently articulates my own reasons for being concerned for God’s good earth. Earth Ministry is a Seattle based creation care advocacy group. They have initiated the Washington Interfaith Power and Light project which organizes an interfaith response to climate change.
Creation itself inspires us and calls us to care. Many people have had their most profound spiritual experience in nature. As we behold the power and love of God in a mountain range, a sunset, or in the timelessness of the ocean, we can’t help but be moved. But creation also includes humans – our families, communities, and created landscapes. God created all things of Heaven and Earth and God is our inspiration to care for both wild places and our own cities and backyards.
Psalm 24 states that “the Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” Humans simply hold the Earth in trust for God. We are tenants here, called to care for the creation on behalf of future generations and all species. The Bible calls us to “till and keep the garden” and names human beings as the trustees of creation. Because God created all the Earth and all of us, creation is beautiful and good and sacred. We are called by our devotion to God and our love for God’s works to protect it.
At the heart of sustainability is the goal of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In a world of finite resources, those among us who have more than enough must address patterns of consumption so that we can provide for all. Acquiring more “stuff” has a direct effect on the sustainability of the planet and on the quality of life for people around the globe. The good news is that more and more people are realizing that spiritual emptiness can’t be filled by consumption. What makes us happy is intimacy – intimacy with self, with others, and with God. In the end, sustainability means seeing ourselves and our neighbors as children of God, not as consumers or competitors for Earth’s resources.
Justice means that in addition to providing aid to our neighbors, we are called to change societal systems that cause poverty, injustice, and environmental damage in the first place. It goes beyond helping to meet physical needs to creating a society with laws and policies that allow the needs of all Earth’s inhabitants to be met. Care and responsibility for the “least of these among us” is a central tenant of Christianity and has a direct connection to environment issues. The impact of environmental degradation falls most heavily on the people around the world who are least able to mitigate these impacts — poor and vulnerable populations. It also disproportionally affects fragile plants, animals and ecosystems. Working for justice calls us to channel our faith into power, to call for social and environmental justice at the local, state and national level.
This morning’s post inspired the writing of this prayer:
God let your love soak into my soul.
May it immerse me in your presence,
And permeate every fiber of my being.
May I awaken fully to your love O God,
So that my heart becomes your dwelling place.
May it become the air I breathe,
the food I eat, the wine I thirst for.
God, may your love fill to overflowing,
So that I ache with your desires,
Reaching out with justice, mercy and compassion.
May your love transform and make me whole.
This weekend I have been thinking a lot about the love of God. It is partly because I am working on a new book entitled Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How we Pray. The focus of the book is a quote I found from 16th century mystic Madame Guyon Prayer is an exercise in love”. My thoughts started to gel over the season of Advent last year as I meditated on what it meant to trust God. What I felt God prompted me to focus on instead was “learn to love me more.” trust is a product of love I realized. It is not something that occurs spontaneously, nor does it come with focusing on our need to trust. Trust comes by learning to love the God who is trustworthy in all circumstances.
Over the weekend someone left a comment on one of my posts with a quote from St. Teresa of Avila, “Remember: if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love.” This too resonated in my soul
Prayer is not about getting down on our knees to talk to God. Nor is it about praying for the needs of the world. It is about falling in love and staying in love with God as we converse with and interact with the One who fills every fibre of our being (see prayer by Father Arrupe).
What awakens us to the love of God which formed us, transforms us, sustains us and empowers us? What awakens us to the love of God so that we crave that intimate place of communion with the lover of our souls. Not just when we sit down in a place of retreat where we intercede for others but moment by moment of every day in the ordinary routines and activities of life?
This is the question that I think is at the heart of the gospels. Jesus whole life is about learning to love the God who is love. That is why James calls “love of God and love of neighbour” the royal law. That is why Jesus spent so much time drawing aside to quiet places to pray. That is why the disciples longed to learn how to pray as Jesus prayed, not in a distant hands off relationship but in an intimate loving interaction that permeated his life and ministry. Learning to love someone means spending time in their presence, becoming familiar with their voice, gazing into their face. It means loving to stand in awe of what they have made, touching, tasting and relishing their love expressed through such creativity.
It also means learning to love what they love. To enter into a loving relationship with God means to desire what God loves – justice and mercy and compassion. It means that our hearts ache with the things that tear God’s heart apart – sin and disease and injustice. Form the fullness of our experience of God’s love we are able to love others. The outpouring of God’s love into the lives of others is I believe one of the most profound expressions of prayer that there can be.
So what awakens you to the love of God? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
It is quite a while since I have posted my regular update for daily facebook prayers so I hope that you will forgive me. However the end of the first week of Easter seems a good time to do this. These prayers were posted during Holy week as well as this week. Enjoy!
Lord Jesus Christ your majestic name fills the earth
You glory is reflected in all creation
Your love is expressed in every act of caring
May we rest secure in the wonder of your risen life.
Alleluia, the author of life is risen amongst us,
God has raised up Jesus Christ from the dead,
Through him all the families of the earth are blessed.
Creator of the universe,
you made the world in beauty,
and restore all things in glory
through the victory of Jesus Christ.
We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured
by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,
the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,
to the glory of your name. Amen.
Jesus may we live into your resurrection world
Seeking justice, freeing captives, healing the sick.
May newness of life break out through us
in generous sharing and compassionate caring.
May we live as Easter people and proclaim the good news of your kingdom
May your resurrection power break forth in newness of life
May all that is broken be transformed
May all that is distorted be renewed and made whole
Christ is risen let us rejoice
Christ is risen let us sing and shout
Christ is risen let us go out and show God’s world
God we have all betrayed you
Turned our backs and shouted for your death.
Yet in your mercy you forgive
And pour out love in outstretched arms upon a cross
In the midst of grief and despair
May we sense Easter springtime coming
Death’s dark and overwhelming night
Will give way to resurrection light
God your ways are good,
Your paths are true,
Your purposes are everlasting.
May we walk with you and not stumble,
Amy we follow you and not faint.
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