July 23, 2017: The Earth Is God’s, Not Ours to Wreck

Posted on : Jul 20th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday we begin our summer worship series “Be the Church.”  About a year ago the UCC came up with nine affirmations of what it means to be the church in the 21st century.  As I’ve shared with you before, there is huge difference between going to church and being the church.  In the next nine weeks we are going to focus on one of each of the UCC’s affirmations about what it means to be the church – the hands, feet, head, heart and compassion of Christ in our current context of ministry.

This week we begin with the first affirmation, “Protect the environment.”

For those of us who grew up attending Church School, many of us learned “memory verses” of scripture in our Sunday School class.   One of the verses I was taught was the first verse of Psalm 24.  “The earth is the Lord’s (we didn’t use inclusive language in those days!) and the fullness thereof.”

Fast forward to this June and our Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC approved a social witness resolution to be sent to General Synod (the national setting of the UCC) using the same opening words of Psalm 24, but closed with a different conclusion.  That social witness resolution was entitled “The Earth is [God’s] the Lord’s – not ours to wreck.”  It was overwhelmingly approved and adopted at the July meeting of General Synod.

In the very first chapter of Genesis there are conflicting translations of what the actual Hebrew words mean.  One translation has led some to suggest that the earth is there for our use, and we humans are to have dominion over it.  Here’s the translation of that version: “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.”

A more contemporary translation offers these words: “God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”

“Protecting the environment” has become a hot topic (pun intended), especially now that President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.  While climate change is of tremendous importance, the issues before us, if we are to protect the environment, are far more complex and demanding.  This Sunday we are going to look at ways that we can all make a difference in protecting the environment and caring for our planet.  And one of our own environmental advocates, Erik Jaffe, will share some of his passion and commitment to caring for the earth, as well as help us think about ways in which we can do the same.

Blessings,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Genesis 1: 26-31

26 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.”

27 So God created humankind in her image,
    in the image of God she created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw everything that she had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

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