I write this on the verge of June Dairy Days, a time for West Salem to celebrate heritage, community, the coming of summer, and the produce of the land. As the clock is closing in on 10 PM, and the sun has long since set in the west, all that’s left is to finish this off while enjoying the cool breeze on our deck. All around me is lush, green life. God is good!
But there is some trouble in the air. I try very hard to keep politics out of pastoral ministry. I understand that there are differing view points, and while I have my opinions, I also want to value and honor the opinions of others – not only when I think they are right, but especially when I think they are wrong!
This time, however, what seems political isn’t. It’s not about politics – it’s about stewardship.
Long ago, in some fashion that we do not fully understand, God created a good world. God brought forth life of all kinds, and God provided for life to be sustained. God caused the sun to shine and the rain to fall, and even the winter, when the land can lie fallow. God fashioned a diversity of beings, plants and animals, insects and microbes. All brought together in a web that allows life to amaze, delight, and flourish.
And then, when all was ready, God breathed life into humankind, created, as Genesis says, “in God’s image.”
But even that wasn’t enough. God gave men and women – God gave us – a responsibility. God gave all of creation to us, not to own and use, not to posses and abuse. God gave creation as a trust, and with that, God gave us a calling – a calling to wise stewardship over the world around us.
And why not? As God created, Genesis tells us that again and again God saw that it was good.
Goodness, however, did not remain. Plants, animals, and all the rest of a magnificent world was fine. Humankind failed. In a fit of sin, Adam and Eve sought to displace God, to become god-like, and in that way, to take the place of God – to become gods themselves.
And so humanity began its journey. A journey of self-absorption – a journey of being so wrapped up in ourselves, that not only do I imagine that the fullness of life is about me and my desires, but I also imagine that I can achieve the fullness of life on my own. I can do it all by myself!
So focused on us, we become selfish, and our care is only for what we think will meet our needs and satisfy our desires. Even when it takes from others, harms them, and maybe even takes away life.
Yet, God was not quite finished with us. In the fullness of time God acted. In Jesus, God came into our world and through the cross and empty tomb God renewed live and restored hope. Imagine that – we who messed up get rescued by the very one we seek to push aside! That’s grace at work – that’s the gospel we proclaim!
So, where’s the “politics turned into stewardship” in all of this? The action this week of President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on the environment. Only two other nations are not party to the Paris Agreement – Nicaragua and Syria. Wow, great company we’re in!
OK, I know there are a lot who have questions about the agreement, and whether it’s the best. Maybe. But the vast majority of scientists (90%+) agree that human activity is changing the environment. What is scary is the prospect that we may reach a tipping point where we can’t go back. And what kind of world are we then leaving for our children and our grandchildren?
The Paris Agreement may not be perfect, but all but two countries agreed to begin to take the steps we need to take to prevent – and reverse – significant climate change. And now we are out.
So this begins as a stewardship issue. A world that is full of wonders is at risk from climate change, change which the overwhelming scientific evidence suggests is due to what we, the stewards, the trustees have done. Hey, read Genesis – we are entrusted with creation – and we are destroying it? And yet, we have the means to stop – but we don’t?
And why not? It will cost us too much! Our money, our wealth, our standard of living – are all more important than faithful stewardship, than faithfully caring for the earth. As if the planet is ours to spend, to waste, even to destroy. Let’s see…1 Timothy 6:10…the love of money is the root of all evil…
I started by saying that I try to avoid being political, but this is bigger than mere politics – this is stewardship!
There are species of animals and plants that will become extinct as habitats change. Remember God’s incredible gift of diversity? Remember it, for we may just throw it away.
There are nations that may disappear under the waters of rising oceans. But who cares about them? God cares! Contrary to our sometimes popular belief, God doesn’t just love Americans!
And then there are people who will go hungry, even starve to death, because crops will not withstand climate change. But they are insignificant, even disposable, right? The rich man in Luke 16:19-31 thought the same about Lazarus. Was he ever wrong!
So whether you are Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, we share (I hope) a care for our world. We also care about being faithful stewards as God has called us. We may differ in policies, but in the end we seek life as God calls it to be.
That leaves one last piece – the crucified and risen Jesus. Empowered by the embrace of the one who brings new life, we are freed to embrace the world around us, and to be bold. We are also free to join together, for our differences are overcome in the outstretched arms of Jesus. Write our congressional representatives. Find ways to advocate for a planet – a whole planet – dearly loved by Jesus, which God has entrusted to us.
And pray – pray a lot – and don’t stop! Pray for those affected by climate change, and those who are dismayed by our withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.
And finally, pray for our President. Not just that he may “see the light,” or the “error of his ways.” Like him or despise him, pray for him. He too is a loved child of God!