In the very detailed story of the creation in Genesis 1, God creates and pronounces everything “good.” And it was good … and it was good … and it was good.
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.”
We created in God’s image are called to be good stewards of the beautiful creation God has given. Distorting the concept of dominion, we have dominated and controlled the earth for our own selfish gain and ease.
We have spoiled the water, the air, and the land. Species are dying, and we ourselves are imminently threatened by climate change which increases at an alarming rate.
In late September, the Climate Action Summit, organized by the United Nations, discussed new initiatives by government, business and civil society to increase commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement. They are working toward reducing emissions to essentially zero and aiming for carbon neutrality by mid-century.
Getting on board with the facts of climate change and making a new commitment to protect the earth for future generations is a responsibility of all people. It is especially incumbent upon people of faith, those who believe that God has called us to be stewards of this good but endangered earth.
The prophet Jeremiah laments with God who says in chapter two: “I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.”
Later in chapter eight he mourns, speaking for God in saying, “When I wanted to gather them, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them.”
Mother Teresa challenged us to “live simply so others may simply live.” Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
It is time for action, both personal and collective. For me that means doing what I can to reduce my carbon footprint — eating more vegetables and less meat, avoiding single-use plastics and eliminating as much waste as I can.
The congregation I serve has committed itself to become an “Earth Care Congregation.” It also means that I actively support legislation that moves us without delay toward that which is green and sustainable.
I want to leave this earth better than I found it, as an act of gratitude toward God and as an act of love for all humanity, especially our children and grandchildren.
Psalm 104 declares, “O Lord, how many are your works. In wisdom you have made them all! The earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.”
The Rev. Elizabeth Deibert is the pastor at Peace Presbyterian Church, 12705 State Road 64, Lakewood Ranch. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Bradenton Herald, written by local clergy members.