Our church cares for creation through:
An article on Care of Creation
One of the Five Marks of Mission involves the care of creation: To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth (Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p49, Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p101) .
The stewardship of creation was a task given to the first humans: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth (Genesis 1:26).’” The humans were blessed so that they would “’Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over [it’s creatures] (Genesis 1:28).’”
This stewardship mandate is also celebrated in Psalm 8, where the psalmist (David) writes to God:
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than the angels,
and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas (Psalm 8:3-8).”
Psalm 2 looks forward to God’s anointed king, who would rule over the nations and receive the earth as his possession:
“He who sits in the heavens laughs;
The LORD has them in derision…
‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’
I will tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession (Psalm 2:4, 6-8).”
It is fair to say that humanity has done a very poor job at caring for creation, with evidence of widespread environmental degradation; an accelerated rate in the extinction of species; the loss of natural environments through development and deforestation; the pollution of water, air and soil; the erosion of the ozone layer; the burning of fossil fuels leading to wide-spread climate change, global warming, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the threat of the ice caps melting. We face an unprecedented crisis in our natural environment. And so we continue to look forward to the return of the king Jesus who will restore creation, renew it, and allow us to dwell in a new heaven and a new earth with resurrected bodies fit for this new creation. In the same way as what we do with our bodies today matters for our future; so too what we do to care for creation today will somehow remain into the new creation. As the church, renewed in the image of God, we are to take up again our role as stewards of God’s good creation.
The apostle Paul writes that “the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now (Romans 8:22).” Through human rebellion and sin the order of God’s creation has been upset. And so “the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:20-21).” God’s rescue mission for humanity, and indeed for the whole of creation, was to set it free from this bondage to decay. God sent his Son in order “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20).” When Jesus returns we will rule with him over a renewed creation, and this is why “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God (Romans 8.19).” Creation is waiting for its liberation and final redemption. As Christians we are the community of the new creation: we embody the rule of the kingdom of God here on earth in anticipation of God’s future rule throughout the whole cosmos at Jesus’ return. One of the ways in which we reveal the rule of God’s kingdom NOW is through wise, sustainable, and renewable care of creation. This is why the care of creation is a part of the Anglican Communion’s common commitment to God’s holistic/integral mission.
Written by our Vicar Rev. Andrew Barlow.