Bible Study: Care of Creation

Care of Creation

Care of Creation Activity: Have the participants go out into the immediate neighborhood and pick up trash on the side of the road.  Split the participants up into groups of four to five for this.  If being done with children or youth, make sure to have an adult for each group.  The groups should spend about one to two hours picking up trash.  After doing the trash pick-up, meet back at the church for a time of debriefing and reflection.

Who can tell why we go out into our neighborhood to pick up trash?  Sure it made the neighborhood look nicer; there are no more plastic bottles, wrappers, or pieces of paper at least along the main roads in the neighborhood, but is there some other reason that we did picked up trash today? It is because God calls us to care for His creation.  We’re going to spend some time unpacking our calling to care for God’s creation.  Two passages come to mind when we talk about care of creation and it is here that we begin our look at what it means to care for creation.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”  So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”  God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.  God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. [1]

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” [2]

We are all familiar with the creation account in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.  God created everything and then gave one of His creations, humankind, dominion over all of Creation.

Questions for Reflection:

What does it mean to have dominion over something?

What other words could be used in place of dominion?

Being a steward over creation is another way to describe having dominion over creation. Stewardship often gets talked about in relation to money, but stewardship is not just limited to money.  In our offertory prayer, we pray:

Merciful God, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us – our selves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love.  Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. [3]

As we can see, stewardship involves not just our money (possessions); it also involves our selves and our time.  Today, by going out and picking up trash in the neighborhood, we gave of our selves and our time.  For a few hours, we lived out our calling to be stewards of creation.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines steward as “one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns (as the supervision of servants, collection of rents, and keeping of accounts).” [4]  All of creation is God’s.  Everything belongs to God.  The Psalmist writes, “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.” [5]  In this instance, the large household or estate is the earth and we are the ones “employed” by God.

Question for Reflection:

As you were picking up trash today, did you pick up something that just made you want to gag?

In what ways have we failed to be good stewards of creation?

The news is filled with stories of our inability or failure to manage the domestic concerns of the earth.  Our carelessness and our dependence on natural resources as means of fuel have led to some serious disasters.
I grew up in coal country and have seen first hand the effects of coal mining on creation.  Coal mining can happen one of two ways, they either mine the coal underground or they mine the coal from the surface.

Question for Reflection:

Which one do you think is worse?  Why?

The coal mined where I grew up could be used for one of three things: making steel, making electricity, or heating a home.  The steel mills and the power plants both have their issues as far as stewardship of creation, not to mention the ecological impact of the mining itself.

But, in the whole scheme of things, these pale in comparison to the disasters assoicaited with our not being good stewards to God’s creation.  Here’s a list of some disasters related to humans careless care of creation:

  • On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant had a meltdown.  Dozens will killed in the blast or from radiation in the days following the explosion and hundreds of thousands of people were resettled due to the radiation levels.  This has been classified as the worst nuclear disaster in history.
  • On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker hit the Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef in Alaska.  Approximately 10.8 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the sound.
  • On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing eleven workers.  The rig sank two days later.  Numerous attempts were made to stop or even slow the flow of oil from the well.  Oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico until July 15, 2010.
  • On April 25, 2010, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, WV claimed the lives of twenty-nine miners, making this the worst mine disaster of the past two decades.

Question for Reflection:

How can we best use our natural resources and still remain faithful to God’s call to stewardship of creation?

Aside from picking up trash, what are some other ways we can show care of creation?

Notes:

[1] Genesis 1:26-31

[2] Genesis 2:15-17

[3] Lutheran Book of Worship. 67. Emphasis added.

[4] “steward.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.  Merriam-Webster Online. 30 May 2010 <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/steward&gt;

[5] Psalm 24:1-2

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