Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

This Wednesday is Earth Day. For years I was never very fond of this particular day. Not that I dislike the earth or anything, I was just turned off by the people who treated the earth as a goddess rather than a gift. I'm talking about people who stood in the forest hugging tree trunks and wailing for their departed brothers and sisters, which had been cut down; people who considered humans an invasive species that didn't belong on the surface of the earth; people who wanted to shut down every business that harvested the earth's resources -- especially the lumber industry.

Then a few years ago I took a creation course at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, under Dr. Charles Arand, and I realized I had thrown the baby out with the bath water. He reminded us that the earth is God's good creation -- and there is absolutely nothing wrong with God's people setting aside one day each year to give Him praise and thanks for our earthly home.

Besides that, God's charge to Adam was to tend and keep the garden of Eden. And even after he and his wife disobeyed God's command and were expelled from the garden, Adam's work was still intimately connected with the earth, "Therefore, the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken" (Genesis 3:23).

Two of my uncles carried on Adam's work throughout their lives, raising crops in central Ohio. When I got married I began following in their footsteps planting flower beds and working a garden. I personally experienced Adam's sweat of the brow, and saw the toil of working the hard clay in our part of Missouri. But I also had the tremendous satisfaction of watching the echo of God's command ring forth as my little patch of earth sprung to life with beautiful flowers and abundant vegetables.

This planet God has given us is a beautiful place, despite the fact it is broken because of our sinful fall. It's especially fine here in the springtime as trees are filling out, grass is growing like crazy, and all the great outdoor activities are getting underway: camping, fishing and boating. Soon the waters will be warm enough for swimming.

On this Earth Day I am reminded of the obligation God has placed on all humanity to care for the earth and all our fellow non-human creatures that surround us. That doesn't mean I'm opposed to fishing and hunting. It's just that we should use this earth and its creatures in responsible ways that honor our generous Creator who put them here for us.

On Earth Day it is fitting to go back to Martin Luther's explanation to the First Article of the Apostles' Creed and consider this planet as one of the gifts God has given us and all people -- along with our bodies and souls, eyes, ears, and all our members, our reason and all our senses. And that He still preserves them.

With the earth and all its creatures, let us praise our generous Creator: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen."

What's your take on Earth Day? You can let us know by clicking here and leaving a comment.

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