Lord, mold us and form us into the kind of people you want us to be. Be patient with us when we fall short of what love demands of us. And give us patience with ourselves. Catch us in the arms of your grace. Amen.
That prayer is from today's Morning Prayer in the Common Prayer reading. It spoke directly to my heart today as I am all too aware of how I fall short of what love demands of me and my need to be caught up in the arms of grace.
The arms of His grace, and the arms of your grace as well.
As I wrote last week, I really didn't know when I began this journey through Lent with a focus on community how mighty and unstoppable the pull to community would become in my life. It's not unlike a vortex that keeps pulling me in, away from my computer, and out out out into places my feet take me.
I've only been able to publish about 25% of what I had planned and hoped to share so far in this 40 Day journey. And I know that none of you are waiting with baited breath for a new post to pop up, but I still feel bad that this isn't playing out the way I had envisioned. In the meantime, other visions are moving from the world of specter to flesh, and much is still in the process of taking shape.
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to share some thoughts from Jonathan Merritt's Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet, a book which truly affirmed and inspired my belief in and commitment to creation care.
I love the approach Merritt takes in this book. He begins by telling of his unlikely conversion from apathy and skepticism about all things environmental to having a fresh and fervent understanding of a Christian's view on creation. He tells of the words of a theology professor, a statement that started the ball rolling for him:
There are two forms of divine revelation: the special revelation in Scripture that is able to lead us to salvation and the general revelation we receive through nature. Both are from God . . . So when we destroy creation, which is God's revelation, it's similar to tearing a page out of the Bible. (-- Dr. John Hammett, as quote by Merritt, page 2)
That led to an epiphany of sorts that put Merritt's feet on the path of discovering more about what God has to say about creation and how we are to respond to His commands regarding creation.
After examining creation itself, Merritt spends time uncovering what is meant in the Hebrew word choice and connotation of God's command for those of us who have dominion over the earth. When we are told to "work" and "take care of" this planet, the idea is not to doing something merely for ourselves (as humans), but out of loving stewardship of what has been given to us by the Creator. There is this meaning behind the words that connects stewardship to servanthood:
Understanding dominion as stewardship of God's handiwork rather than man-centered domination is consistent with the original language. In the Hebrew, the words work and take care of have much deeper significance, meaning to work in ministry or do something for God, to care for diligently in obedience. Some biblical scholars even translate this verse to read "to worship and obey." (p 48)
Later in the book, he breaks down popular objections to conservationism and creation care. Many of these are wrapped up in politics, and if this is an argument you bump up against a lot, I highly recommend checking out his response in this realm.
I loved the section where he takes on the "The World Is Going To End Anyway" objection. In this section, he quotes N.T. Wright, and I have to say that to gain a full, complete understanding of what the Bible really teaches about the fate of God's creation (all of it), you MUST read Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.
Merritt equates this kind of thinking to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, since eventually we are all going to die anyway. Regardless of your views on what happens to us after death, most Christians recoil at such reckless care of the body because many of us believe what the Apostle Paul wrote about our bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit. And yet we treat the earth with reckless abandon, even while knowing that God reveals Himself to everyone and everything through His creation!
Merritt writes: "Future knowledge doesn't change our present obligations" and "The knowledge of a returning Master does not free us from our earthly obligations, it calls us to them."
In the latter part of the book, he brings the cause of creation care down into the major issues, and then shows how a life dedicated to responsible living ultimately ends up being a life committed to social justice and the care and concern for God's people. If you have even a hint of leaning toward creation care, I know you will love this book. Even better - if you are apathetic or resistant towards creation care, I dare you not to find solid, practical inspiration in its pages.
* * * * *
Finally, I wanted to share some links related to our 40 Days of Community:
Directly related to the idea of creation care connected to community - Carol Howard Merritt's How Your Church Can Support Local Food Movements is a fantastic and practical read, and I think Katie of Imperfect People is putting all of this into action through community gardening.
I LOVE what Nicole wrote at Gidget Goes Home about Intentional Community. YES YES YES.
And finally, everything I've ever wanted to say, hoped to convey about the tremendous power of daily prayer, especially from the Common Prayer book, Nish (The Outdoor Wife) said it all so much more beautifully and brilliantly than I ever could: The pulse of prayer.
* * * * *
We had to cancel our meal plans again this week because of sickness (this time it was Kyle who was under the weather - a rarity, indeed). Daily prayers and the encouragement of the #40DayCommunity are blessing my heart out.
I would love to hear from you - reflections on the week behind, hopes for the week to come . . .
photo courtesy of Christian Revival Network