Climate Change


                   Facing a Sacred Trust


“Whether Christians do right by the environment depends on

whether we see the Earth as a megastore where we can ‘shop’

for whatever we want—or as a garden that needs careful tending.”                       Norman Wirzba


Invitation to Pray:


We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future.  As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise.  To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny.  We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.                                   Preamble:  The Earth Charter, June 29, 2000


Contemporary Reflection:      


People of faith have not done a very good job helping each other consider the lay of the land. . . .The mainstream behaviors in our society indicate that we perceive the natural world to be one vast store or warehouse, a place where mining and then purchasing goods as cheaply and quickly as possible is not only appropriate but a national duty.  . . . But what if our rush to drill, blow up, burn, and buy up the world is like the action of children who have come to a dinner table but treat it like a jungle gym, or football field? How do we know that we have not fundamentally misperceived and misunderstood the world, and that our behavior is not of a most inappropriate kind?

    It ought to astound us that scripture introduces the world to us not as a superstore but as a garden.  In stunning contrast to the violent creation stories that circulated in the ancient world, the Jews chose to name and narrate the place of our living as a “garden of delight” [this is what Garden of Eden means].   Equally astounding, and fully aware that first impressions matter, they described the creator of the world not as a warrior but as a gardener: “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there put the human whom God had formed” [Gen. 2:8].   And then, to top it all off, they said that humanity’s fundamental and most appropriate role is to join with God in the gardening of this world: “The Lord God took the human and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” [2:15]. If the world, theologically described, is God’s garden, then there is nothing more appropriate and important than for us to learn to garden like God does.


Psalm  65:1, 9-13


The protection of earth’s vitality, diversity and beauty is a sacred trust!


Praise is due to you, O God, In Zion;

Vows to you must be fulfilled, for you answer prayer!


You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it;

God’s rivers brim with water to provide their grain.


    This is how you provide it:

    By drenching its furrows, by leveling its ridges,

    By softening it with showers, by blessing the first fruits.


    You crown the year with your bounty;

    Abundance flows wherever you pass;


    The desert pastures overflow,

    The hillsides are wrapped in joy,


    The meadows clothe themselves with flocks,

    The valleys are clothed in wheat,

    They shout and sing together for joy.


The protection of earth’s vitality, diversity and beauty is a sacred trust!


Contemporary Reflection Continued:


To accept that we are made in the image of God the gardener commits us to a high calling:  personal work and public advocacy for the transformation of our world into a beautiful, aromatic, and delectable dwelling place.

    God loves dirt.  The God we meet in the garden is not a white-collar or managerial deity who relates to the world by mining or purchasing it.  This God kneels and bends down with hands in the soil, molding human, plant, and animal creatures into distinctive shapes. This God takes the soil and holds it close, taking in its fresh aroma, and then breathes into it life’s vitality, resiliency, and beauty. . . We need this soil-cherishing God, because the day God ceases to garden and farm is also the day that all creatures die and return to the ground from which they came [Ps 104:29].                           Norman Wirzba:  “For God So Loved the Dirt”


Scripture  Response:

“God took the man and woman and settled them in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and to take care of it.”  Genesis 2:15


Questions for Discussion:           

Climate change is a moral issue.  What images will we need or what images will we have to change if we want to choose a future for our planet?  

The Earth Charter speaks of a “culture of peace.”  Do you see a role that stewardship of the Earth, our Home, might play in such a culture?

Norman Witzba says, “When basic human needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more.”  What can we add to a discussion about this statement?


As a result of my reflection, discussion and prayer on climate change, what new action or new awareness will I implement in my life?  It need not be big, but it could be! Small increments are acceptable to our Gardening God.


Closing Prayer for Climate Change:


O God, your creative love brought forth our world,

Once a garden where humans could taste and see beauty and goodness.


But our eyes do not always see the sacredness of Creation.

We do not always remember that it is Gift

Given so that all humans may live and flourish.


Inattention can change the world.

Even mighty glaciers weep now.

Lifestyles create pollution that blot out the sun.

The very skies above us are threatened.

Seas rise and whole peoples lose their homes.


O God, we ask you to

Call us to renewal and to stewardship.

Call us to solidarity with the earth and all its creatures.

Give us new vision to see the fragile beauty that remains with us.

Give us new spiritual energy to become active in loving the world

    through our daily lives,

Give us new voices to speak out for environmental solidarity.

Bless us with a love of your Creation

So that we may glimpse your Eden once again.


Adapted from a prayer by Jane Deren