Caring for God's Earth (April 2012)
"I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out" – Luke 19.37-40
Our children are growing up in a world of mixed messages. They are encouraged to recycle paper, plastic, and glass; yet see adults walk past garbage on the sidewalk. They recognize the recycle symbol as well as we recognize those golden arches. In school, they are taught that the pollution we create is destroying the earth. What are they learning at church? We read in Genesis the creation of the earth and its inhabitants, and the gift God gave us of authority over the earth. How do we show children that caring for the earth that God created is a way that we obey and worship God?
Long before Earth Day 1970, God’s children were appointed the responsibility of dominion over the earth. In being created in the image of God, who rules all of creation, we are the caretakers of the earth. Throughout the Bible, God reminds us that we are to mind the earth not only for ourselves, but for generations who come after us.
We see the importance of God to creation as Jesus prepares for his peaceful entry into Jerusalem on a colt. The Pharisees demand that Jesus stop the people from shouting, "blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord"! Jesus’ response to the Pharisees is that the stones will shout if he silenced those who believe in God. Even the earth worships God!
If you ask a child if stones shout, they may or may not respond with a resounding "YES"! Either way, children possess an imagination, trust, and belief that openly embrace the possibility of the stones shouting. Our responsibility to our children includes embracing that love and imagination from childhood to equip them to live lives that respect the earth for which we are responsible.
Reading and Resources
The Green Church: Caretakers of God’s Creation
by Daphna Flegal and Suzann Wade
A six-week study for children as part of a church-wide study of Green Church
Rita the Bird Dog Travels the Great Plains
by Karla Lehmann
Young children can explore animals of the Great Plains
For a PDF download of this newsletter:Caring for God'sEarth
Faithful formation of our children takes careful planning, communication with parents and children, intentional relationship building, patience, a sense of humor, and a commitment to the call to make disciples. Most of all, it takes living into the Christian command of love of God and neighbor.
"But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds ofthe air, and they will tell you; ask the plants 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 handof the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of everyliving thing and the breath of every human being." Job12:7-10
Before We Drove Cars, We Rode Animals, a resource from Earth Day Network, contains resources for use with K-4th grade that will help you connect Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a colt with how we can use transportation faithfully.
The Green Bibleis an NRSV translation of the Holy Bible that highlights references to caring for creation. It contains essays and commentary from well respected theologians.
The Farmer, by Mark Ludy, is a story of patience, perseverance, and faith through the experiences of a gentle farmer who experiences natural disasters. Great for early elementary.
Preschoolers through early elementary children who speak English or Span-ish will enjoyNos Gusta Vivir Verde [We Like to Live Green] by Mary Young.
Karla Lehmann’s series of bilingual books onRita the Bird Dog help children to learn about animals and their habitats, and will help connect children to the story of creation.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss shares the importance of the action of just one person who cares. Although the movie received mixed reviews, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/lorax-0, it will open a door for discussion.