Then Moses hiked up from the Moabite plains to Mount Nebo, the peak of the Pisgah slope, which faces Jericho. The Lord showed him the whole land… Then the Lord said to Moses: “This is the land that I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I promised: ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have shown it to you with your own eyes; however, you will not cross over into it.” – Deuteronomy 34:1,4
This week my enemy is not Coronavirus; it’s the pollen. I may not have many bad allergy days, but once in a while the oak blossom hits me hard and there is not much I can do to fight back.
Regardless, spending this beautiful weekend in the garden was still wonderful. Rebekah and I say time and again that, “This year we’re giving the garden back to God,” and that one day we plan to retire in a condo with maybe a few herbs in a container on the patio. But then another North Carolina springtime comes around and we can’t help ourselves.
Of course between Rebekah’s bad back and my fun-with-oak-blossom we can be fairly pitiful. Pitiful but happy and fulfilled. She was able to more work than she expected, and even made friends with this ferocious little guy, who quite literally “dropped” in for a short visit.
Jesus the Gardener:
It’s not a coincidence that this Sunday was our annual WFPC “Earth Day Worship Service.” Pastor John preached an excellent message on “Jesus the Gardener,” and the video featuring our church garden is an absolute must-see (you can find the garden here – “Jesus as Gardener” – at the 21-minute mark in Sunday’s worship).
This relationship with have with creation is complex and (the greater the demands we place on this planet’s resources) not always easy to manage.
This is why the idea of “stewardship” is better than either ownership or tenancy. As stewards we work with God in a partnership that is guided by both the understanding that this world belongs to God and our commitment/responsibility to provide for the billions of other humans who live here.
My concern today is that too many humans intend to extract as much profit as they can, for themselves, without regard to either their neighbor (including other nations) or their grandchildren.
A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey!
I like to tell the story of when Rebekah and I stood at the summit of Mt. Nebo, looking into the Jordan valley and Israel beyond. This is where God told Moses, “This is the land that I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…”
We looked out over the barren, dry, rough, hardscrabble landscape. “Hey Rebekah,” I said, “where’s the milk and honey? Do you see a land flowing with milk and honey?”
“And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — a land flowing with milk and honey…” – Exodus 3:17
Well, the Children of Israel worked hard for the milk and honey.
I think today we have a different concept of “the good life,” where we try to eliminate the “struggle” part of our interaction with creation. In so doing – by pushing for all the comforts and conveniences that invention and technology have provided – I am concerned that we may well be in danger of eliminating not only the struggle, but creation itself.
So there is this balance we must strive for. God absolutely intends that we enjoy this good Earth, and that we use our imaginations and our inventiveness to make life as pleasant as possible. But at the same time God intends that all of humankind benefit from Earth’s bounty.
When we suck the very lifeblood from this planet in order to satisfy our greed, and when we compromise our grandchildren’s future in favor of our own excess, then we are quite literally breaking covenant with God.
If we all pledge to do these three simple things, then I believe we can still secure the future for our children:
- Love God and follow Jesus as your guide.
- Think and live as a global citizen rather than an “I’ve got mine” nationalist.
- Be kind: kind to your family, kind to your neighbor, and kind to the environment.
In love, and because of love – DEREK