Creation Care: The Spiritual Practice of This Time

 on March 2, 2023

Often, I ask myself, what does the challenge of climate change mean to us as followers of Christ? To me, my faith is the source of conviction and compassion that inspires me to this work. The Bible tells us that Planet Earth is God’s beloved creation. It also tells us that this creation is our common home. It is for all to share, human and non-human, those who have more and those who have less.

Jesus clearly spoke against a society that had become desensitized to the suffering, the hungry, and the marginalized. Scripture also tells us that God promised to stand with those who stand against injustice.

I cannot think of any other place Christians should position themselves—except at the forefront of responding faithfully to the climate crisis. As Anglicans, our baptismal covenant and the fifth Mark of Mission call us to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and to sustain and renew the life of the earth. There is a clear and fundamental connection between loving God, caring for people, and caring for the earth.

I find myself using the term ‘creation care’ more now in place of ‘climate action.’ Yes, it lacks the needed sense of urgency, however, creation care grounds us in a life-long pursuit and practice of continuous stewardship. It also has helped me to break down the monumental task of “saving the planet,” turning it into earth-caring practices that are integrated in everyday living.

How is creation care a spiritual practice?  Every time we choose to care for the earth and its creatures, we engage in a set of practices, habits, and priorities that slowly shape us more like Christ—people that are humbler, more patient, more joyful, more mindful, and more connected to our Creator. I strongly believe creation care is the spiritual practice for believers living in this time.

For example, when we grow a vegetable garden, not only do we shorten the distance food must travel to reach our plate, reducing greenhouses gas emissions. We discover that the land requires sun, rain, and a network of microorganisms to grow the food that we eat. We gain the wisdom that humans cannot live apart from the flourishing of all created things.

When we make the time to compost, we’re concocting one of nature’s miracles—the transformation of death into new life. We hold fast to hope even in the darkest of time. When we refuse a single-use plastic item, and instead choose low-carbon living and invest in renewable energy, we are practicing agency and building a better future for all.

And yet Christian faith has even more to offer, the essence of our many spiritual practices is indeed caring for creation. The apostle Paul in his letters has a lot to say about living in contentment. In 1 Timothy 6, Paul teaches that a devout life lived simply, and being content, is what really makes us feel rich and fulfilled. Practising contentment is the best corrective to consumerism. The worship of material possessions and irresponsible convenience is destroying natural habitats, depleting valuable resources, and chewing out uncontrollable amounts of waste.

Finally, we have the age old tradition of Sabbath. Keeping Sabbath creates a space to break our restless cycle to achieve, accomplish, perform, and possess. One day a week, shrink the desire for more stuff, cut the use of natural resources, minimise the emission of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. One day a week, don’t drive, don’t shop, don’t build. Take a walk. Eat a simple meal with friends. Play or read with your kids. Sing. Meditate. Only when we rest, the Earth can rest.

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