Judeo-Christian scripture is crystal clear about God’s command to human beings to take good care of the creation. There are obvious reasons for this. The earth is our home, a gift from God, filled with abundant resources and natural beauty.
Every Sunday our congregation’s intercessory prayers include a petition for the stewardship of the earth. From week to week the petition covers a lot of ground, meaning that we lift to God our concerns for everyone from home gardeners to farmers and ranchers, from the land and sea to the stars in the heavens, from all living creatures to favorable weather (always a plea when one lives in Northeast Ohio).
This Sunday the petition will have an even greater sense of urgency about it, given President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, a move that isolates this country even further from our global partners and associates us with Syria and Nicaragua as the only three countries on the planet who oppose the Accord. This is not good company to be keeping.
The ELCA Advocacy Office issued a statement saying that it is “deeply disappointed with President Trump’s decision to begin the process of withdrawing from the Paris agreement. The effects of climate change are being felt globally, and vulnerable and the marginalized are most impacted.”
Opting out of the agreement is a troubling decision because it will undoubtedly have a trickle down effect that could impact us and our children for years (possibly generations) to come. If our president is not concerned about controlling carbon emissions, let alone seeing the value of partnering with almost every other nation of the world to care for the earth, then certainly we could not expect him to advocate for other important things like clean drinking water or preserving the national parks. His budget proposal slashes the EPA budget by a whopping 31%, the largest cut of any government agency. According to National Geographic, the budget would eliminate major programs to restore the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and Puget Sound.
The interior department has been instructed to review dozens of national monuments to see if they could be scrapped or resized to allow better access for oil and gas drilling. A moratorium on coal mining on federal land has been lifted while a bar on offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast is being reviewed. Trump’s budget also calls for drilling in the Arctic national refuge in Alaska.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by any of this, as Mr. Trump once claimed that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to adversely effect U.S. manufacturing.
In the face of what seems to be an example of government acting contrary to time-honored Christian beliefs that are grounded in scripture and sound theology, what are we to do? For starters, here’s a prayer about stewardship of the earth. I offer it as one way to focus our hearts and minds on what God desires.
Merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature. Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p.63)