Rev. Deb Dysert
I believe this question is a struggle that many people have. We struggle with how we can live as a model of faith in a world that seems to be growing farther and farther from acting with compassion and love for others. Those of us, who teach in faith communities, are intentional about teaching our people that our individual acts, no matter how small they may seem in the big scheme of things, are where true change begins, and where hopes lies.
Recently I completed a class at Ecumenical Theological Seminary entitled “Ecology and Ministry.” Honestly, I took it because I needed to take a couple of classes this summer, it was being offered, and a good friend of mine was taking the same class. I thought, “cool, it takes care of that checkmark on my ‘To Do’ list. Who cares what I learn in the process.” Was I in for a surprise! What I found was information that has been life changing and has begun a painful process for me, learning to change my thinking and my behavior.
The following statement from the book “Earth, Our Home, Biblical Witness in the Hebrew Scriptures,” by Sarah Ann Sharkey caught my attention and started me on a this journey. Sharkey said, “As ‘images of God’ humans, bearing the responsibility to represent God within creation, are to act justly and nobly and compassionately in the place of/on behalf of the Creator.” As the class evolved, I began to take a painful look at how we as human beings, no, how I personally have been so focused on my upward mobility and self survival, and have forgotten that I have been entrusted to care for ALL of creation. Am I? Or do I live as if the land, the animals, the plants, the water and all of the wonders that God has created is here to make life easier? I am not sure that was really a part of the plan God put together.
As leaders in the faith community, the focus of our teachings is usually about improving our individual relationship with God (our Creator, the Higher Power, whatever name we use), rather than focusing on living a Godly life while we are here on earth. Creation is part of what God made. It took God six days to call humans into being. God was very happy with (ital each) day’s work during the first six days, calling each one good. Do we as human beings call it all good? Or do we abuse it and assume that it is of less importance to the big scheme of things and simply there to make (ital our) lives easier? That kind of thinking is a bit arrogant, isn’t it, when you really think about it?
There is very little that we as a people can come to agreement on, but I think we do agree that we want to leave the next generation a world that is better and easier than the one we had. The question that I was forced to take a look at however is this: What good is all the education in the world, all the material needs we can garner, if the world we are passing on to our children is not sustainable? If there are not resources, food and energy to provide life for our children, does it matter how educated they are?
With the state of our world, our earth, in ecological terms, we need to be just as intentional in teaching that our individual acts, no matter how small they may seem in the big scheme of things, is where true change begins, and where hope lies. There are many things that we can do individually that will make a difference. If we don’t start, through our individual small acts, how can we ever begin to make a change collectively? The biggest change, I have learned, starts with understanding that I need to begin to live life differently. I need to live life just as concerned about the (ital whole) of God’s creation, not just the humans around me. God created the earth and all that is therein…and called it good. I need to do the same.