EARTH DAY 2021: A reminder that we are not just on Earth for a while, but we are of Earth
Blog Post by Rev. Carleton Stock, Honorably Retired
Presbytery Earth Care Team
I was fortunate to be exposed to nature early on in life when I spent time on my grandparent’s farm during the summers of the Fifties in upstate New York. Like a lot of kids, I loved to be outdoors and around any kind of animal, domestic or wild. It was just fun being outside in the wide-open spaces of that farming community with animals always nearby.
I am also grateful to the church I grew up in for introducing me to the idea that nature and God’s creation are good (Genesis 1) and need to be cared for just as a farmer tills his soil year after year so that it will yield crops that support his family for a lifetime.(Genesis 2:15).
April is Earth Day Month and every year (since 1970) we celebrate the anniversary of Earth Day on April 22. It is a good time to be reminded that we are to care for Mother Earth so she can continue to take care of us. It is indeed “our common home” as Pope Francis proclaimed in his papal encyclical “Laudato Si’” a few years ago.
And as People of Faith, we are reminded also that we need to be leaders in caring for God’s awesome creation. It is what it means to be followers of the “Jesus Way”. One of the weekly themes in this year’s Presbyterian Lenten Devotional Booklet was Shalom or peace stating that we find peace when we are aware of our oneness with the divine and all of creation.
A major turning point came in my life when I was introduced to “creation spirituality” during the 1980’s when Ellie and I were pastors of a church in the Pittsburgh area. It changed my perception of the divine from being totally outside of creation to being inside of creation and inside me (and all God’s creatures). Humanity is not just on this planet for a while but is of this planet, the place where we were born and where we will be buried. (“from dust, we have come, to dust we shall return” from our funeral services.) As we know conclusively now, all life evolved from the unfolding of the universe over nearly 14 billion years! Human beings were not just dropped down onto Earth. They evolved from the evolution of life over time.
Being on the Earth Care Team of the presbytery, for me, is not just about working on a variety of environmental issues and concerns, although global warming, polluted air, water, and soil, more frequent, severe storms, rising and littered oceans, melting ice have to be addressed ASAP in these times of climate crisis. They are life and death issues for all of us. Most importantly though, Creation spirituality is about our relationship with the Giver and Sustainer of life and all forms of life across the cosmos and Planet Earth; how we are one with God and all creation and are interdependent with all creation. The Bible, Hebrew, and Christian attest to how humanity is connected to Earth and how it is to care for Earth. Indeed, it was authored by agrarian peoples who knew the importance of caring for the land!
So, I urge you on this Earth Day week to be about caring for all the Giver and Sustainer of Life has given to us; to be caring for Mother Earth as she cares for us. Find ways to build into your daily routine practices that care for God’s good Earth—at home, at school, at work, at church, in your community. Get outdoors! Commit yourself to save life on Earth and savoring life on Earth. It is indeed our calling as followers of the Jesus Way!
Carleton Stock, Honorably Retired
Earth Care Team
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy