Our World Belongs to God
For thus says the Lord,
who created the heavens
(he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it a chaos,
he formed it to be inhabited!):
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I did not speak in secret,
in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
“Seek me in chaos.”
I the Lord speak the truth,
I declare what is right (Isaiah 45:18-19, NRSV).
Happy Earth Day to you! How will you acknowledge this Earth Day, so unlike any of the previous forty-nine? Take a moment, put your head outside or go for a walk if you can, and hear, see and smell how this year is so different. Pollution of all types is down, way down. Some have called 2020 a Year of Jubilee for the earth. It reminds me of the 2007 book, The World Without Us, where author Alan Weisman examines the question, how nature would respond if humans just vanished? Just fine, he concludes. On my walk this morning, noting the absence of plane and vehicular noise, I wondered, could we just decide as a society that we never want to go back to the way it was before? Could we choose, as individuals, to change our behaviour?
Because it’s Earth Day, we turn our attention to the Christian Reformed Church’s Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony (Second Edition, 2008, with footnotes), which begins:
As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world—
which some seek to control,
and others view with despair—
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!
[For God’s ownership of all things, see Psalm 24:1 (quoted in 1 Cor. 10:26), Job 41:11, and Deuteronomy 10:14. That this is also “our world”—given to the human race to keep and care for—is one of the themes of the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2.]
How does it affect your view of the earth, now that much of human control has been loosened, that our world belongs to God? How does it change your reaction to COVID-19, which has given so many such despair, that our world belongs to God? Do you have a sense of joy and trust for living in this world today?
I know how I will acknowledge Earth Day. It will be the same as I’m told to do for COVID-19: I will stay home. I will give the earth a rest.
Our song today is John Rutter’s version of "For the Beauty of the Earth" (Cambridge Singers, City of London Sinfonia). You know the lyrics!
Let's pray together:
“Lord God Almighty, we praise you as creator of heaven and earth. We acknowledge that this earth is yours because you created it. We are sorry for the harm that we have caused this earth for the way we have chosen to live. You have placed us to live in this world; help us to live as we ought, as followers of Jesus Christ. We choose the joy that comes from trusting in you today.
We pray that you would heal this world from the pandemic, and also from the damage we have caused it. We pray for those suffering while we await your healing. We ask your healing for the sick, for those grieving from the tragedy in Nova Scotia, for those who fear the virus. Lord, we turn all of our fears, anxieties, joys and desires to you, for truly, this world belongs to you.”
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Click here for God’s blessing in song, as sung by Fernando Ortega:
PS – My online office hours today and tomorrow will be 11am-noon, and 1-2pm. Click the link to drop by!