Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Yesterday's reading was from Genesis chapter 1 and the start of chapter 2. I can predict some of the reaction my comments might provoke. I said that God made people in a special way and with special gifts, as well as a special vocation. Of all the created order, we are the part with the responsibility to care for the rest of it. Of all creation, we are the species which is said to be created in the image of God. Of all creation, we are the part that was made in a special, personal, way, rather than through God's word of command.
Who do we think we are, anyway? What makes people special? Is this just a natural human way of claiming to be a special type of being, because, after all, we think highly of ourselves?
There is evidence, and I alluded to some of it in yesterday's post, that humans are special by nature. However, Psalm 8, while it reaffirms that we are special, goes somewhere else that I would like us to go as well. It reflects on how God, the almighty, all-knowing, creator, redeemer, and sustainer of all, chooses humanity to have dominion of all the works of God, all of nature. What's going on here?
There are two applications which should rightly concern us. First, we humans have a God-given responsibility to take care of the planet. We have been placed here and all creation is under our feet. It is not for being trampled, but for being nurtured. What is the point of having grass growing in a green area? Certainly, for cleaning carbon dioxide and creating oxygen, but also for walking on. It's for the small members of the animal kingdom to find shelter and food. It's for people to enjoy. It's for using, not for avoiding. While we don't want to wear it out and uproot the plants by our heavy traffice, we also don't need to avoid contact. It is for using. We take care of things so they can be used. That's stewardship of resources.
What's the second application? I've been reading St. Augustine's comments on the Psalms lately. Posts about those happen Tuesday mornings, while the lectionary posts come out some nine hours later, hitting the Psalm on Tuesday afternoon. Augustine always points us to this one concept. The Psalms are about Jesus. Even though He is not mentioned by name, He's there.
Who is the truly human one who, without sin, is placed lower than the angels? He is crowned with glory and honor. All creation is placed under his feet? It is surely not you or me, but it is Jesus, God the Son, known as the Christ.
In his mercy, Jesus is able to care for all aspects of creation. He is identified in the New Testament as the living Word of God, the creator of all. He is also identified as the one who redeemed it all, buying the creation out of its bondage to sin and death, becoming death on its behalf. Does Jesus take care of all creation? Yes, he does, including taking care of you and of me. And in doing so, he uses countless humans to engage with the different parts of creation.
How will he use us to engage? There is no telling. But he has a purpose for us. There's nothing unworthy about being a human and being told that we are to care for the world. It's exactly what Jesus does.
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