Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Thought for Wednesday 22 April 2015

“The Lord took the man (Adam) and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”  Genesis 1:15

On this day in 1970, the first Earth Day was observed in the US.  The idea came from US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, and it led to the establishment of the US Environmental Protection Agency in July of that same year.  The whole idea was to raise awareness of pollution and the continuing degradation of our air, land, and water.

Regardless of how we may feel about this particular US agency today, we nevertheless recognize the sense of stewardship in protecting and preserving natural resources intended for all The Lord’s creation, not a select few.  Looking more closely at the very serious problem of pollution at the time, the US government intervened to force Americans to do what The Lord had charged humanity to do in the first place: protect The Lord’s creation for the good of The Lord’s creatures. 

The Lord gave man unlimited access to every tree in the Garden from which he was allowed to eat, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil being the one exception.  The Lord did not tell Adam why he would not be allowed to eat from that particular tree; Adam was told only that he would die if he did.

Traditionally we have been taught that the whole creation story and the Garden was a cautionary tale of obedience to The Lord.  The Lord says “don’t” and so we don’t - not because we understand why but because we trust The Lord.  Yet we also know of the cautionary tale of “forbidden fruit”; that which we are forbidden to partake in often becomes what we desire all the more. 

We also read of The Lord’s intent that humanity was “put in the Garden to tend and keep it”.  For humanity it would soon become a struggle between doing what needs to done – and doing what one pleases regardless of the consequences.  Adam did not literally die when he ate of the “forbidden fruit”, but the life he was given (the life The Lord intended for him) was indeed taken from him.  Humanity was ejected from Paradise and essentially given the life they seemed to desire more: to do as they please when they please.  What was given to humanity for humanity’s well-being was taken in favor of humanity being forced to try and provide for itself what was once provided.  All that was asked of the humans was that what had been given should be tended, cared for, and protected for the good of all.  As long as Adam was willing to see faithfully to The Lord’s charge, The Lord would see to his every provision.

I do not suggest the EPA was established by The Lord’s command.  Maybe it was.  Maybe the US senator was a praying man, or maybe he was just a tree hugger with a profound sense of stewardship in understanding that some resources given from Above may have limitations.  Whether they do or not is not the issue.  The issue is the Church’s charge to recognize the Life we are offered vs. the life we may choose for ourselves.  One preserves Life; the other threatens life as we know it.

To choose life, as Moses admonished the people of Israel, is to choose much more than one’s individual existence.  It is to choose responsible stewardship of all creation, all resources for the good of all The Lord’s creation.  One is not “more entitled” than another.  Humanity as a whole is entitled by The Lord’s command.

Let us learn to take nothing for granted.  We must learn to appreciate every tree, every blade of grass, and every drop of water; for if we do believe in The Creation Story by the hand of The Almighty, then surely we can appreciate every nuance of that same Creation Story.  How we treat all of Creation, whether by preservation or exploitation, is the measure of our belief in Creation vs. evolution: what was once given as “good” and sufficient, and what soon became necessary adjustments in order to survive in an environment outside of The Lord’s provision.

Let us become “tenders” and “keepers” of what is entrusted to our charge, and let us learn to accept The Lord’s creation on all its own terms rather than our own.  It is the difference between having fruit and having only thorns and thistles.



No comments: