For 8 May 2020: Fourth Friday of Easter
Read: Genesis 1:1-2:4a
I was blessed with the visit of some feathered friends this morning. Early in the cold, sipping tea on the back stoop, a pair of Goldfinches came to the yard. First the golden male landed on a dandelion stalk. Not long after, his more reserved mate joined him on another dandelion stalk. Together, they sat on their respective dandelion stalk plucking seeds from the cotton ball at the end. The stalk didn’t break, it bent, and the little birds did not try to overwhelm it. They kept in balance on it in the breeze collecting their breakfast.
Those small golden visitors to my yard reminded me, once again, of the amazing blessings given to all of us in God’s created order. I am blessed with the Goldfinch visitors as well as Mallards, Cedar Waxwings, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Scarlet Tanagers, Oriels, owls, hawks, and falcons just to name some of the birds I have welcomed to my backyard. The species of trees are numerous, too: Pin Oak, Japanese Maple, Sugar Maple, White Pine, Douglas Fir, White Cedar, Redbud, Flowering Pear, and Blue Spruce are just some of the diversity of trees in the backyard. I could go on with plant species, mammals, insects, and fungus. The diversity in my backyard is actually astounding when I step back to look. All that amazing diversity comes to me as a blessing from God; It is a gift.
Biodiversity is the way God created our world. A cursory reading of the passage from Genesis shows the wide variety with which God created our world. God entrusted our world’s care to us, to human beings. We have long read Genesis 1:26 as permission to do anything we human beings, and our societies, please with creation. “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” (Genesis 1:26, NRSV). Clearly, we human beings and our societies have exercised “dominion” over creation. Yet, with such power also comes responsibility.
Damian Carrington authored an article which appeared in The Guardian 12 March 2018. His article tried to explain what biodiversity is and why it is important to all of us. You can find the link to his article here.[i] In short, Carrington suggest we need to think, again, about how we are using, and in some cases destroying, our natural resources. We need the Goldfinches which land on the dandelion stalk, and the dandelion stalk. We need to bugs which are in the soil and undergrowth. We need trees just for our own survival. They give to our atmosphere the oxygen we need to live. All of creation is interconnected.
We are given the work of “creations caretakers.” We are responsible for how the earth is used and how its’ resources are shared. In the Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal Church), one of the petitions for the “Prayers of the People” is this: Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others, and to your honor and glory.”[ii] Our sister tradition encapsulates this understanding of “to whom creation belongs” and “our place in relationship to creation” as part of the core of the prayer ministry of the church gathered for worship. This is for concern for all Christians.
I do not have answers to the questions, but I do know the starting point for the conversation. The conversation begins with gratitude. Do we see all the wonder of creation around us a blessing? Or do we see creation as something to conquer? We are blessed with an amazingly diverse world in which all the parts are needed. How will you see the world today? Can you see it as a place of blessing and amazement? Can you help others see the blessing and amazement, too?
[i] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/12/what-is-biodiversity-and-why-does-it-matter-to-us [ii] The Book of Common Prayer, New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, page 388.