A Blessing to Creation
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
One of the upsides to the increased home time of the past six months is that many people have used it as an opportunity to get back to nature in some way. Many have adopted dogs or cats; others have taken a trip or three to their nearest big-box store and tried out their gardening skills. My husband and I spent some of the time at our house in Matagorda Bay, and I finally got around to testing out which plants will survive the water-front conditions.
This coming Sunday is the day we in the church remember St. Francis of Assisi. While in recent years he’s been cast as a bit of romantic nature lover who showed the Gospel only in his actions, it’s easy to miss so much of what Francis was about. He was a touring preacher and speaker. (Yes, even to the birds.) He worked to share his preaching with a wider audience, founded a religious order and was famous for his devoted reading of the Gospel, which made audiences weep! Yet in his devotion to Christ, he embraced the world around him and all the creatures God has made.
Francis’ life is a reminder that the Gospel is not just good news for humankind, but the whole created order. God’s initial act of creation was a garden He declared “good,” and humans were entrusted with its care. (Genesis 1-2) Yet the Fall resulted in a curse for the earth and a strained relationship with man, leaving the ground full of “thorns and thistles.” (Genesis 3:17-18) Yet that was not the end of the story! Did you ever notice in John 3:16 that God so loved the world? The cosmos–the whole created order. God loves His creation and His desire is for the reconciliation of all that He has made, beginning with us. Romans 8:19-23 speaks of how creation yearns and groans for freedom from its suffering and one day it will happen: heaven will come down to a renewed and redeemed earth (Revelation 21:1-4) in which “nothing accursed will be found there any more.” (Revelation 22:3)
Too often we take for granted the world God made and entrusted to us. Yet the work of the Cross redeems broken relationships–even those we have with creation. In Jesus’ name, we are to go from a relationship of conflict from the curse of the Fall to one that embraces the peace and the “shalom” of God, where we are no longer fighting against, but working with the world that God called “good.” We are to turn from our sinfulness and live into, once more, our role as image-bearers in God’s creation, and so reflect God Himself. One simple way we can do that is through having the responsibility of a pet, a vegetable garden or flower bed. Yet this call is not only about having a new pastime for a season of lockdown–it reaches much further than that.
This Sunday afternoon, from 3-4 p.m., we are having a drive-thru pet blessing service where we will give thanks for our animals and how they bless our lives. Bring your pet and join us! Like so much of our worship, this service reminds us of who we are called to be outside of church–careful stewards of the beautiful yet broken cosmos God has made. That’s the call: to be ministers of the reconciling power of God, through the Cross, for the whole world!