The Creation story shows us a model of shared power, shared capacity, shared obligation for tending. It reminds us that “genuine interaction and interdependence are characteristics of God’s creative activity.
August 13, 2023
“Sacred Earth, Sacred Worth”
Part 1: Creation as Blessing
Genesis 1-2: 4
Rev. Dr. Heather W. McColl
Genesis 1-2: 4
When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters— God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night. There was evening and there was morning: the first day.
God said, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters to separate the waters from each other.” God made the dome and separated the waters under the dome from the waters above the dome. And it happened in that way. God named the dome Sky. There was evening and there was morning: the second day.
God said, “Let the waters under the sky come together into one place so that the dry land can appear.” And that’s what happened. God named the dry land Earth, and he named the gathered waters Seas. God saw how good it was. God said, “Let the earth grow plant life: plants yielding seeds and fruit trees bearing fruit with seeds inside it, each according to its kind throughout the earth.” And that’s what happened. The earth produced plant life: plants yielding seeds, each according to its kind, and trees bearing fruit with seeds inside it, each according to its kind. God saw how good it was. There was evening and there was morning: the third day.
God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will mark events, sacred seasons, days, and years. They will be lights in the dome of the sky to shine on the earth.” And that’s what happened. God made the stars and two great lights: the larger light to rule over the day and the smaller light to rule over the night. God put them in the dome of the sky to shine on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was. There was evening and there was morning: the fourth day.
God said, “Let the waters swarm with living things, and let birds fly above the earth up in the dome of the sky.” God created the great sea animals and all the tiny living things that swarm in the waters, each according to its kind, and all the winged birds, each according to its kind. God saw how good it was. Then God blessed them: “Be fertile and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” There was evening and there was morning: the fifth day.
God said, “Let the earth produce every kind of living thing: livestock, crawling things, and wildlife.” And that’s what happened. God made every kind of wildlife, every kind of livestock, and every kind of creature that crawls on the ground. God saw how good it was. Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.” God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. To all wildlife, to all the birds in the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground—to everything that breathes—I give all the green grasses for food.” And that’s what happened. God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good. There was evening and there was morning: the sixth day.
The heavens and the earth and all who live in them were completed. On the sixth day God completed all the work that he had done, and on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
Creation as Blessing Genesis 1-2: 4
In the beginning, on a dark and stormy night, a group of people gathered in Midway Christian Church’s fellowship hall, to dream, to imagine, to proclaim what it means to take the call to care for Creation seriously. What emerged from that gathering is the beginning of the Green Chalice movement within not only the Christian Church in KY but also the Green Chalice movement within the whole Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination.
I share this story as a reminder that caring for Creation has been a part of who we are as Midway Christian Church since the beginning of the movement. It was here that the seeds of hope, the seeds of creativity, that the seeds of justice for all of Creation were planted. And over the years, we as a community of faith have seen these seeds grow and thrive in ways we never would have imagined. From those seeds of Creation care planted on that night a few years ago, Midway Christian Church has embraced our call to be good stewards of the Earth. And we do so by finding ways to green our building, starting with an energy audit.
Yes, I know it’s not the coolest place to start but it was a beginning, a place to see what was needed, a place to start. Moving forward beyond the energy audit, as a community of faith, we added LED lights in our fellowship hall and we saw that it was good. Next, we added movement detecting light switches that would turn on but more importantly turn off after a certain amount of time and we saw that it was good. Next we added programmable thermostats around our buildings and we saw that it was good. Next we changed the windows in our fellowship hall to more energy efficient ones and we saw that it was good. Next we replaced our outside lighting with LEDs on a timer and we saw that it was good. Next, we embraced and surpassed the financial challenge of installing solar panels on our fellowship hall and we saw that it was very good.
And then we rested…partly because of COVID but more so because we were and have been discerning our next steps as a Green Chalice community of faith. Because there are only so many light bulbs we can change out to LEDs.
Because from record heat, to wildfires, to severe storms, we realize that creation is crying out in pain and sorrow. Because we are experiencing the side effects from years and years of our lack of stewardship and care towards Creation. As a community of faith, for the last couple of years, we have been discerning our next steps as a Green Chalice community of faith because here and now, we are seeing a vision of things to come if we do not speak up, if we do not take a stand against practices which go against everything which God called good.
In the midst of all that we are seeing and experiencing as the effects of climate change, as a Green Chalice community of faith we have been trying to discern how we faithfully live out our call to care for God’s creation beyond quick fixes, thinking about systemic changes which are needed, systemic changes transform mindsets and practices, not only in our local communities but around the world as well.. And I will tell you…this discernment process, this time of reflection has been overwhelming. It has been draining. I will admit that sometimes it has been hard to find the energy to even take that next step, especially when it has felt like it was all too much. Too many times we found ourselves asking…what’s the point? No one is listening. No one cares. Nothing we do is making any difference. Unfortunately, over the last couple of years, when it came to embracing our call, our role, our responsibility for caring for Creation, too many times, we found ourselves asking Why does it matter?
Again, I share all this not to depress anyone or belittle what we have accomplished as a Green Chalice community of faith. Rather I share this with everyone to remind us of how it all got started. I share this to remind everyone what all we have actually accomplished and achieved as a community who takes our call to care for Creation seriously. I share all this with everyone to bring us back to the beginning when the Spirit of God, the wind of God, the Breath of God moved across the waters, when it moved in and among the chaos and brought forth life, brought forth light. I share all this with everyone to remind us that in the midst of the chaos, in the overwhelming darkness, God created, that God brought together a community of those who care and those who need care. I share all this to remind us that in the beginning, when God created, there was genuine interaction and interdependence among all who were gathered there.
Just like God is doing for a time such as this…because today marks a new beginning, a new part of our story as Midway Christian Church. We have been invited to join the One Home, One Faith initiative through Blessed Tomorrow. This is a multifaith campaign to strengthen vitality, relevance, and community connection across generations in local congregations nationwide. It is a coalition effort of American faith denominations and organizations working for visible and collective climate action by faith leaders to educate, activate, and empower clergy, congregants, youth, and all spiritual people – including but importantly progressing beyond the climate activists – in meaningful and just climate solutions at the local, regional and national level in ways that are accessible, positive and empowering.
In other words, as an individual community of faith, we are realizing that we cannot do this work alone. Just like in the text I read, just like in the beginning of the Green Chalice movement, today, as we celebrate all that we accomplished and achieved as a community of faith who honors our call to care for creation, we are being reminded that as people of faith, when it comes to justice making, when it comes to making systemic changes, when it comes to transforming and bringing forth life, the model of ministry and mission, the model of creative action given to us by our God, is a model of community, of relationships, of dialogue.
That is why over the next few weeks, we will be reclaiming, renaming, re-imagining a way of living within the community of earth that deepens our reverence for life, that invites us to participate in the creativity of the cosmos. We will be remembering why we do what we do as a Green Chalice community of faith as we develop our passion for justice and human transformation. Over the next few weeks, we will be embracing once more our sacred work in this world, for this world as we dream, as we imagine, as we proclaim what it means to take the call to care for Creation seriously.
Because we know that Creation is showing us a vision of things to come if we do not start paying attention, if we do not embrace practices which align with all that God called good. Now is the time for us as people of faith to speak up, to take a stand against practices which use and abuse God’s creation. Now is the time for us to rise to the challenge, becoming the people God’s creation needs us to be… people of grace, people of love, people who take prophetic action for justice, joining in the work of becoming stewards of God’s creation so all may know the beauty and wonder of the world around us. May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, August 13, 2023 – Creation as Blessing Genesis 1-2: 4.