John Muir, Earth Steward

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John MuirToday, April 21, is John Muir’s birthday! Born in Scotland, he came to the United States and then to California. A devoted family man with his home in Martinez, he took over his father-in-law’s sheep business for ten years. Taking the sheep (and noticing their devastating effect) up to the Sierra Nevada mountains led him to discover the majestic beauty of Yosemite. That experience changed his life and priorities. The wilderness became his world, with immense consequences. One was his invitation to President Teddy Roosevelt to camp overnight with him in Yosemite. In that one overnight experience he persuaded the President to save it as a National Park. With eyes now open to the beauty of creation, Roosevelt went on to save other places, establishing the National Park System.

I grew up with admiration and affection for John Muir, since my grandparents, then parents, camped every year in Yosemite, as we did throughout my childhood and youth. Muir gloried in every bit of nature, from the delicate colors of the Kaweah meadow flowers, to the overwhelming grandeur of Yosemite Falls seen from above. He even tied himself to the top of a tree one time to experience the wildness of a mountain storm! Muir called the Sierra Nevada “the Range of Light,” and his poetic words* have inspired me and countless others to try to be a faithful steward of the earth with integrity and consistency.

Thank You, God, for John Muir’s life, witness and legacy! Invite, goad and empower us to truly care for Your earth and for all creatures. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

* – I highly recommend reading The Wilderness World of John Muir, edited by Edwin Way Teale.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

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Earth Trek: Christianity and Creation

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God loves all creation.
God delights in creation and cares for the well-being of all creatures (Gen. 1).

Creation reveals God’s character.
Through creation itself, God’s character can be seen (Rom. 1:19-20) and all things created give praise to God (Ps. 19:1-6; Ps. 148). Wilderness places facilitate close encounters with God (Exod. 3:1-2) and provide a place of testing and retreat (Mark 1:12-13).

Creation belongs to God.
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Ps. 24:1). God is sovereign over the earth and everything it produces is a gift from God. It is through God’s grace, and not human effort, that the earth is fertile and supports life.

Human beings are an inseparable part of God’s creation.
Human kinship with creation is expressed in Genesis when God forms Adam from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). Human beings also share their day of creation with the animals (Gen. 1:24-30). This highlights our dependence on and connectedness to creation.

Human beings have a special role and responsibility within creation.
Human beings were made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). This gives us a position both of privilege and of responsibility within creation. Our role can be understood as stewardship: serving creation under the ultimate rule of God.

A moral relationship exists between humans and creation.
Creation is affected by human action. God blesses human faithfulness by causing the earth to flourish (Deut. 28:1-6), and uses the forces of nature to punish human sin (Jer. 14:1-10). Decay and destruction of the natural world is often a consequence of human sin.

God’s plan of salvation includes the restoration of creation.
Biblical visions of renewal and restoration include creation. Redemption causes the earth to produce bountiful gifts (Amos 9:13), the lion to lie down with the lamb (Isa. 11:6-9), and a new heaven and a new earth to be made (Rev. 21:1).

Jesus plays a role in both creating and restoring creation.
Jesus is the first-born of all creation and participates in the creation of the world (Col. 1:15-16). As such, Jesus has authority over creation (Luke 8:22-25), and its restoration is encompassed in the salvation that he brings.

Jesus cares for creation.
Through his teaching, his simple lifestyle, his concern for the weak and the poor (Matt. 5:3-11), and his attitude of service and humility (Phil. 2:6-8), Jesus demonstrates care for creation and exemplifies a creation-friendly way to live.

 

From Earth Trek: Celebrating and Sustaining God’s Creation, by Joanne Moyer, pages 20-22
(Adapted from William van Geest)

Green Teams: Nashville, TN

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On October 9-10, 2010, church members and others in Nashville, Tennessee, held a conference on green jobs and a 10/10/10 Global Work Party to highlight making our world more sustainable and protecting the climate and environment. But some members of Belmont and Edgehill United Methodist churches in Nashville continue to care for the earth through the ongoing work of their “Green Teams.”

The fifteen members of Belmont UMC’s Green Team set up a website to encourage their families, congregation, and community to reduce their carbon footprint. The site offers ways to discover and measure our effect upon the earth, shares encouraging stories, and connects environmental issues to Christian stewardship.

“We are called to see that all life has a sufficient share of the resources of nature,” they say. “With new hope rooted in Christ and with more obedient living as stewards of the earth, we can participate in God’s healing of creation.”

Inspired by Belmont, nearby Edgehill UMC formed its own Green Team, which invites participants to follow “The Ten Commitments.” These include doing ten hours of volunteer work in the community, planting ten trees in a reforestation project, eating ten dinners a month without meat, and reducing our carbon footprint by ten percent over the next year.

To learn more, go to http://www.belmontgreenteam.org or http://www.edgehill.org.
Some Questions for Discussion
* What could you do as stewards of the earth in your community?
* How might you start a Green Team in your congregation?

Written 12/6/2010 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church

Green Teams: Nashville, TN

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On October 9-10, 2010, church members and others in Nashville, Tennessee, held a conference on green jobs and a 10/10/10 Global Work Party to highlight making our world more sustainable and protecting the climate and environment. But some members of Belmont and Edgehill United Methodist churches in Nashville continue to care for the earth through the ongoing work of their “Green Teams.”
The fifteen members of Belmont UMC’s Green Team set up a website to encourage their families, congregation, and community to reduce their carbon footprint. The site offers ways to discover and measure our effect upon the earth, shares encouraging stories, and connects environmental issues to Christian stewardship.
“We are called to see that all life has a sufficient share of the resources of nature,” they say. “With new hope rooted in Christ and with more obedient living as stewards of the earth, we can participate in God’s healing of creation.”
Inspired by Belmont, nearby Edgehill UMC formed its own Green Team, which invites participants to follow “The Ten Commitments.” These include doing ten hours of volunteer work in the community, planting ten trees in a reforestation project, eating ten dinners a month without meat, and reducing our carbon footprint by ten percent over the next year.
To learn more, go to http://www.belmontgreenteam.org or http://www.edgehill.org.
Some Questions for Discussion
* What could you do as stewards of the earth in your community?
* How might you start a Green Team in your congregation?

Written 12/6/2010 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church