Message from the Pastor
The Rev. Dr. James Butler
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…” –Psalm 24:1
Paul the Apostle was convinced that the starting point of God’s self-revelation was the universe itself. The natural, physical world we inhabit mirrors the one, eternal God: “Creation reveals God’s eternal attributes which can be clearly seen so that no one is without excuse…” (Romans 1:20). God chose to manifest physically and to seek relationship with living things like trees, earth, water, animals, and ultimately, human beings. The Hebrew Bible contains two versions of the story of creation. Both end with the creation of human beings endowed with spirit and consciousness and commanded by the Creator to “exercise dominion” over it. Many scholars argue that our understanding of dominion (as in “to dominate”) does not reflect the nuance of the Hebrew language. A more accurate contemporary translation is “be responsible for it.” There is growing concern that we have so “dominated” the natural world, as opposed to caring for it, that we are close to the point of irreparable damage to this earth “that belongs to God” and “tells of God’s glory…”
The exciting thing is that people of faith from different religious traditions and perspectives are re-embracing this religious duty—to be conscientious and responsible care-takers of the natural world. Young Christians are especially energized and are expecting their denominations and congregations to include environmental stewardship and “creation care” as aspects of Christian discipleship. The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) now includes this as an expectation of membership.
We have planned three big events, which will serve as reminders of God’s command to be responsible caretakers of the natural world. The annual Weeks Music Service will feature instrumental and choral music about God’s gift of creation. Our own Ken Gober, former Director of Environmental Education for Cleveland Metro Parks, will present a delightful Adult Faith Formation presentation on birds and the need to diminish the threat of their extinction. And our youth will lead a worship service focused on creation stewardship (see below). My hope is that all of these events will ignite fires of passion in our hearts that will help us to have reverence for and care for this world that proclaims God’s glory and gracious generosity.
On April 22, the youth will take over the worship service for their annual Youth Sunday. Reflecting on Earth Day and God’s creation, the youth will explore what it means to be good stewards of God’s creation. Youth Sunday is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn how to develop a sermon, choose readings and hymns, and take a leadership role in the church. The youth will also be collecting donations for their summer mission trip to Ronceverte, West Virginia. Join us in supporting these wonderful young leaders in our church. If your child is interested in participating in Youth Sunday or the summer mission trip, please contact Aliyah Kennedy.