We celebrate Earth Day on April 22 every year. For 2021, we take this Earth Day opportunity to reflect on why we, as followers of Christ, care about these matters of sustainability, environmental justice, climate change, and all matters of bugs, birds, flowers and soil. This isn’t new for the Lutheran tradition. When Martin Luther was asked what he would do if the world ended tomorrow, he replied, “Plant a tree.”
God is the creator of all, and is present in all of creation. We honor and worship the Creator and are called to cherish and care for God’s creation. Every day, we listen to the cry of the Earth and feel it in our hearts. Our response is to seek ways to heal, restore and renew the creation around us, and we all do this in a variety of ways. And we are finding that as we learn about critical issues including species extinction, climate change, land and water degradation, we are making changes in what we do personally and as a church community to address those issues.
Some of us share our thoughts here.
Donna Steinwand: As long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in gardening. And now, the more I know about the value of pollinators and native plants, the more I do to promote these kinds of plantings. I’ve gradually converted most of my full sun garden to a pollinator habitat, and love seeing all the bees, flies, wasps and butterflies that are constantly on the move during the growing season. And now the tree frogs are present in my garden too.
I find joy in God’s creation just in my little pocket of native plants, but I know as well that I am called to do more. There is much to learn, to discuss and to implement for composting, recycling, support of sustainable farming, environmental justice, intentional planting of native plants, vegetable gardening and eating local. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. Day by day, I’m gradually changing my life to live more sustainably, and to support others who do as well.
I’ll paraphrase Micah 6:8. God has shown me what is good in creation, and so what does the Lord require of me, but to do justly now, to love mercy now, and to walk humbly now. In spite of the enormity of all the issues we consider in creation care, I cannot abandon this work. Instead, I focus on today, now, and that is my call.
Ann Thureen: I see nature as a testament to God’s amazing glory. I am constantly in awe of the beautiful, intricate details of plants and insects and the interwoven links that keep all of this in balance. It’s God’s wonderful creation, but we have an impact on it – both positively and negatively. We need to act to attain and maintain a positive balance in nature. We all need to do our part. When I do my part, I feel closer to the earth and closer to God.”
Psalm 24:1: “The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it”.
Lynette Thompson: I wish I could say my love of gardening has been present most of my life. Instead, gardening was an activity I mostly observed in my childhood years. I marveled at my grandmother’s ability to identify each and every plant in her flower garden. I devoured the carrot my father plucked from the soil and gently washed under the outdoor faucet before placing it in my hands.
I began to feel some of the garden “magic” in my adult years.
My primary vocation is nursing. My experiences in adult critical care led me to interest in spirituality in patient care. Personal losses and other life moments inspired my interest in nature and its healing properties. After completing the horticulture course within the Master Gardener program at the University of Minnesota, I felt a marvelous intertwining of all these life experiences.
Now, I vacillate between having found this rich, but also frightening knowledge about our earth. We seem to be at such a critical time, needing all of us to be invested in restoring our heaven on earth. May our hands and hearts work together.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Lona Doolan: My passion for creation care goes back to the time I spent growing up with 4-H activities that focused on nature and protecting the animals around us. We did a lot of picking up litter, which wasn’t our favorite thing, but we had fun doing it as a group and it helped us see that we could make a difference in the world around us.
Over the years a number of things helped shape my drive for nurturing and restoring nature. In studying the balance between humans and nature in different Native American cultures, I discovered Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden, which was my first exposure to sustainable agriculture. In studying Ecological Literacy, I discovered a great joy in helping young students discover the wonders of nature around us. Studying Biology and Horticulture later in life and at a time when there is so much need for protections and restoration has only increased my commitment to act.
I am blessed to be a member of a faith community with a strong commitment to creation care and to have good friends that I know I can call on to lift me up when I am down and help me experience the joy of working alongside others in caring for God’s creation.
Job 12:7-9: “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
Are you interested in joining the Sustainability team at Nativity? We’d love to have you. Our activities include planning educational events, weeding and planting and pruning at Nativity, working on projects such as recycling, solar, pollinator garden, and removing buckthorn. What ideas do you have that would care for creation at Nativity or your community or your home? We’d love to hear them.