An Ecology Theology - Salvation Army Canada

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  • Apr22Sun

    An Ecology Theology

    Earth Day is an annual event designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the earth's environment. April 22, 2012 by Captain Mark Braye
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    This Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day. Earth Day is an annual event designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the earth's environment. Environmentalism and “being green” has taken on a life of its own in recent decades and has developed into a significant political and social issue. It's also developed into a spiritual and theological issue, and rightly so.

    As good Wesleyans, let's start with Scripture. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, NIV). The opening sentence, verse and words of the Bible introduce a creative God and implicitly affirm the value of creation; its given primary status in the introductory story to Yahweh.

    There are two creation narratives, Genesis 1 and 2, that present God as Creator. The two stories are told differently and present two ways of thinking about God and his creation: as the artist who creates (Genesis 1) and as the curator of the museum that houses the artwork (Genesis 2). God is an artist and all creation is his masterpiece in an art gallery or museum of the cosmos. God is also the curator. God takes care of, protects, and admires the artwork.

    These two ways of thinking about God and creation are also reflected in the second doctrine of The Salvation Army: “We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.” God creates and preserves. We can see God's creativity in creation from coast, to coast, to coast.

    The Salvation Army Ethics Centre has done some wonderful work with regards to “green theology.” The Position Statement on Responsibility for the Earth is excellent and states, in part: “The Salvation Army believes that God created the earth and all living things. We believe that God delights in each part of creation and fills it with intrinsic value, regardless of its utility. As such, caring for creation is an act of worship to God, while neglecting or abusing it is an act of disobedience.” The implications are staggering. Whoever thought we could see reducing, reusing and recycling as an act of worship? Also, in the near future a new resource will be available from the Ethics Centre: a Green Toolkit. This volume has been developed with biblical scholarship, theological reflection and great insight.

    An ecology theology doesn't stop here, though. We have a part to play; we have a role in this continuing drama. It's wonderful to educate ourselves and have conversations about these issues. We need our words to become actions.

    “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15, NIV). This is a challenging verse. Are we taking care of God's creation? At times, in our homes, our churches, our country, our world even, we may not like the answer.

    Environmentalism is a spiritual and theological issue. Caring for God the creator's creation is an act of worship. Develop your own “green theology” and celebrate Earth Day this Sunday in words of Scripture, the lyrics of hymns, and the thoughts of this prayer from St. Francis of Assisi:

    Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
    all praise is yours, all glory, all honor,
    and all blessing.
    To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
    No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
    All praise be yours, my Lord, through all you have made,
    And first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day;
    and through whom you give us light.
    How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor;
    Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
    All Praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon
    and the stars; in the heavens you have made them,
    bright, and precious, and fair.
    All praise be yours, my Lord,
    through Brothers wind and air, and fair and stormy,
    all the weather's moods, by which you cherish all that you have made.
    All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
    so useful, humble, precious and pure.
    All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
    through whom you brighten up the night.
    How beautiful is he, how cheerful!
    Full of power and strength.
    All praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister
    Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us,
    and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
    All praise be yours, my Lord,
    through those who grant pardon for love of you;
    through those who endure sickness and trial.
    Happy are those who endure in peace,
    By You, Most High, they will be crowned.
    All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
    From whose embrace no mortal can escape.
    Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
    Happy those she finds doing your will!
    The second death can do them no harm.
    Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks
    And serve him with great humility.

    Captain Mark Braye and his wife, Nancy, are the officers/pastors of The Salvation Army Temiskaming Community Church in Temiskaming Shores, Ont. They have two children, Hannah and Micah.

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