■ Pastor Erin Armstrong / Contributed
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God, and the earth proclaims God’s handiwork,” Psalm 19:1.
This is how the Psalmist begins one of the great praises of God’s creation and how it relates to the work of God among human beings. God’s work is intimately related to the beauty of creation, and God’s existence and intentions are written into the very fabric of what we can see throughout the universe. And if creation can reveal God in its beauty, perhaps that means we should care for it as much as we claim to care for God.
One of my favorite places is in the hills of Oak Glen. The Lutheran Church has a camp there where I spent a week every summer growing up. It was the first place where my faith in God was tied to the beauty of creation. It was where I heard that the God who made the grandest mountains and the most transcendent sunsets also cared enough to make me.
It was also where I learned that I could care for creation, too. I hiked and cleared trails, separated recycling and learned about food waste and production. I saw how my actions affected the environment around me, and was able to tie my call to discipleship of Jesus with a call to love all that God loved.
There is an apocryphal story about Martin Luther, the monk who started the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. A student is said to have asked him what he would do if he knew the world was to end tomorrow. I’m sure the student and those around were expecting an answer such as “repentance” or “prayer” or “baptize everyone.” Instead Luther responded, “I’d plant a tree.” Even faced with the direst of circumstances, Luther believed in care for God’s creation so strongly he would plant a tree even if he knew it would not last more than a day.
As disciples of Jesus, we have more than a day left with the gift of creation. We have the scientific knowledge of how our human activity has affected the planet, and we have the knowledge and the faith to work to do better to care for it.
We might have different ideas about how to best do that—that is simply the nature of living in a community of humans. But when we as a global community can come together around the same table – the one that offers the gifts of bread and wine and water – we get to celebrate in all that God has given us. We get to see God’s love written in the stars, and in the mountains, and in the waters of the earth. And then we get to go out and plant trees so that God’s love will last for even more to know.
Pastor Erin Armstrong is the senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA). They are located at 191 S. Columbia St. in Hemet and worship at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. every Sunday. Check out their website www.trinityhemet.org for more learning, worship and fellowship opportunities.