Friday, April 27, 2018

From My Nature Journal -- Celebrating Earth Day by Praying through the Creation Story: Day 6, "Treasured"

Introduction: The ways people pursue God, or even pray, can be as different as the very people who pursue God. Spiritual writers and mentors have long appreciated these varieties of pathways that pilgrims have followed in their prayer journey. For example, many are led to deep devotion through such things as music, contemplation or activism, but others have found that it’s the beauty and mystery of the natural, created world that leads them to a humbling encounter of praise and prayer with their Creator God. Of course, the pathways mix to varying degrees according to our personalities and interests.

Those who find nature an important spiritual pathway can see their own faith story unfold in the creation story of Genesis 1 and 2 in the Christian and Jewish Bible. Being mindful not to worship creation but only the Creator, a consideration of the natural world not only helps them do that, but also guides them in their stewardship of what God has created. Each day this week we will look to the ‘seven day’ creation story from these first two chapters of the Bible’s very first book. All references are from the Bible’s New Revised Standard Version.

Day 6 – “Treasured” -- And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind… Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness… Be fruitful and multiply…” (Genesis 1:24, 26, 28)

Our newest grandchild, Annamae Catherine, born last week

Reflect: We circle back again today to Psalm 8, a text referred to on ‘day 4.’ As I read it, I easily picture David a young shepherd, finally lying back at twilight after a day guarding the flocks, and musing on the night sky. (I’ve done it often myself, perhaps you, too.) “…What are human beings that you are mindful of them…?” he says (Psalm 8:4). Now, there are two ways this text may be taken, and the choice is ours. Choice 1? To render it with despair, emphasizing, “What are humans…?” In other words, we might say, “God, if there is one, why would you concern yourself with this insignificant dust speck of a person on this insignificant dust speck of a planet amidst all your creation?” Or choice 2? Contrarily, it can also be rendered with a different emphasis, “…that you are mindful of them…?” David gets to this latter place. In other words, he and we say, “Somehow, you see me and know me, even love me. Little lower than God? Dominion over your works? Indeed!” What else can be done but give praise, “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1 and 8:9)

But our command to fruitfulness and dominion does not allow us license to abuse the good earth God has given. Along with responsibility and authority must come commensurate accountability. God will hold us answerable as his creation’s stewards.

Observe: Do you people watch? Sometimes I do, at an airport, mall, city center or other congested area. Occasionally I do it with only an eye of curiosity, but lately more often with a prayerful spirit that says, “There goes a child of God, a crown of God’s creation.” Take time today, and each day, to watch the people around you and pray for them.

Pray: How quick I can be, Lord, to make the first choice mentioned above; for there is too much in this world that can lead to despair, including humankind’s inhumanity to others, and its neglect and abuse of your creation. Forgive me, forgive us. Lead us in a new way, your way, the way of your mindfulness toward us and all that you have made. Amen.

Hymn for the Day: “Children of the Heavenly Father”

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