As gardening season ramps up each year, I remember that Genesis 2:15 says God put the first man "in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (NIV). The Hebrew word translated "take care of" in that version (or "keep" in others) is the same word Psalm 121 uses to describe how God takes care of us: "The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore" (Psalm 121:7-8 NIV). The implication is clear: while humanity has been given authority to work the earth to sustain our lives, we've also been charged by God to care for his creation just as he cares for us.
Accordingly, when the Presbyterian Church (USA) released a new Book of Common Worship last year, it included new intercessions for wise stewardship of creation. We pray for "the stewardship and healing of creation," for "the conservation of soil, water, and air," and even "for endangered species of animals and plants." Some might find the idea of praying for endangered species strange, but as an international group of scientists reported this week, one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction. Such a loss, these scientists warn, could have grave implications for our lives, ranging from disruptions in agriculture and the food chain to international conflicts stemming from food and water insecurity. In the light of such news, prayers for the well-being of creation are prayers of love for our human neighbors. Our flourishing is intimately intertwined with the health of the rest of the world.
Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the Lord's and all that it is in it." May we pray and live in such a way that God finds us to be faithful stewards of his beautiful creation.
Grace and Peace,