Wild Lectionary: Earthkeepers

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Nelson leads prayers on Burnaby Mountain in the path of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 11 (16)
Romans 8:12-25

By Nelson Lee

I am an engineer working to address climate change, writing from the Coast Salish Seas where the city of Vancouver, BC has been established. First son of a refugee from China and an immigrant from Germany, both fleeing war.

In my first home (prior to knowing the Lord Jesus), due to the unjust reservation system, I experienced “Indians” sleeping off the effects of alcohol in the main park of the city. In my new home (as I attempt to walk ever closer with the Lord) I see that injustice continues, but now I share a common struggle with the First Nations as Earthkeepers of the Creator who made all things and put us on the earth to care for it and to keep it.

We exclaim with Jacob “surely the LORD is in this place!” Gen 28:16 and “How awesome is this place! Gen 28:17. And if we approach the LORD, the Redeemer, the only Rock Isaiah 44:6-8 and ask Him to search us and to see if there be any wicked ways in us Psalm 139:23-24, we are heart broken to imagine what He will reveal. For creation is groaning! And we groan with creation Romans 8:22-23. We see and hear the groaning in pollution and excessive resource extraction, deforestation and desertification of the land and with it species extinction, being called the sixth great extinction – through overfishing, acidification, warming and now stratification (zones of low dissolved oxygen levels necessary for most life) of the oceans. There are many reasons for this damage to creation – all related to our many sins and sinful nature – but let me focus on this reason: we do not love Father God!

Of course because of our fallen nature we do not love God as we ought (…neither is there any God but you, Wisdom of Solomon 12:13). But I am talking about a practical way to demonstrate our love for God.

  • To love God first, we should also love His children. Through human driven climate change, as a result of our addiction to fossil fuels, we are strangling the lives out of our poor sisters and brother in places like Africa, South America and Asia. Sea level is rising. Devastating rainfalls and storms flood away people and/or their crops. The rising heat leads to droughts and often forest fires – if there are trees. And there is climate variability when we no longer know what to plant and when because we don’t know what weather to expect. Disease vectors spread to where it was not believed possible before. We are killing the oceans as mentioned. This already contributes to at least 400,000 premature deaths each year and rising. To love God first, we can change our lifestyles to consume less and to share more.

 

  • To love God first, we should love His Creation and care for it. We can also reduce our excessive consumption of resources, that is driving the raping of the earth for metals, wood products, and fossil fuels, because we are energy slaves and covet more and more stuff. We, unlike the claims in Romans 8, do not need to live by the flesh and become slaves to sin, Romans 8:13, 15. We can be willing to suffer, Romans 8:18, for the sake of creation – from where God provides all of our food and water. Everything belongs to God. Our caring stewardship of creation can reflect our love for God!

So there is hope, Romans 8:20-21, because Jesus calls us to an upside down / right side up life in His kingdom. O Lord, lead us in the way ever lasting Psalm 139:24 – not the way we have been living. May we love God – and His people and His Creation – with our right actions!

Nelson Lee is part of Earthkeepers, Christians for Climate Justice, an ecumenical group in Vancouver BC, Coast Salish Territories, working out biblical teachings in regards to ecology, love of neighbour, and climate justice. Members engage in prayer, education, lifestyle changes, and public action for climate justice.

Wild Lectionary is a weekly blog on ecological justice themes in scripture curated by Laurel Dykstra, gathering priest of Salal + Cedar, Coast Salish Territory.

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