Monday, August 29, 2011

From A Free and Merry Spirit

A (very) rough outline of the Green Team's presentation to LTSP's new students.  I'd greatly appreciate your input!
When someone asks me why we should care about God’s creation, the first thing I think of is Psalm 8:

1O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens.
3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;
4what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
5Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
6You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,
7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

My favorite part of this Psalm is in the first and last verses: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  It’s my favorite because that’s where caring for creation really begins: recognizing the beauty and majesty of God’s work and our connection to it.  Sadly in our contemporaneity we are often cut off from many aspects of creation… to put it in Dr. John Pahl’s words we often separate ourselves from sacred places, instead favoring the artificially sacred of a trip to the mall, a “pilgrimage” to Disney World or the worship of “perfection” in our own homes.  As Psalm 8 joyfully exclaims, God’s creation is full of amazing gifts, and it’s equally amazing that we as imperfect people are tasked with caring for it.  When separated from God’s creation though we become unable to see many of God’s gifts to us through the eyes of grace… we no longer experience that sense of wonder in creation and therefore no longer feel as compelled to care for it.

“Compelled” is in an important word to emphasize here because why and how we care for creation reflects Lutheran (and I imagine most Protestant) theologies… we don’t do good works in order to earn something, but instead do good works solely out of love for God.  As the second generation Lutheran theologian Andreas Musculus would say, we do good works “out of a free and merry spirit.”  We should care for creation out of a free and merry spirit as well, which is why it’s so harmful to guilt people into recycling, turning off the lights and composting.  That’s why this year at LTSP we are so intent on not only improving our stewardship of creation, but also providing fun and fulfilling ways of reconnecting with creation.  Dr. Pahl makes a great point near the end of his book Shopping Malls and Other Sacred Places… the sacred isn’t just in beautiful mountains, forests and rivers, but it’s the bustling streets of our cities and in our own imperfect bodies as well.  LTSP's Green Team and Environmental Stewardship Committee will be working hard this year to help our community both care for and joyfully connect with the sacred of creation, wherever it might be found.

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