Mountain Sky Outlook: Renewal of Creation Blog #1
Cultivating the Tree of Life: Faithful and Fruitful
Renewal of Creation
Remember the Tree of Life? - Growing at the center of the Garden of Eden in Genesis, and growing in the middle of the New Jerusalem in Revelation? The TREE OF LIFE - offering fruit that is good to eat, and leaves for the healing of the nations.
What does it mean to live life to the fullest as disciples of Jesus Christ? It means learning to live our lives in ways that contribute to the fullness of life for all people. Founder of Methodism, John Wesley, called this HOLINESS. He spoke of personal holiness and social holiness. It was the idea that if people grew in their knowledge and love of Jesus (personal holiness) we would experience abundance of life and we would be moved to help others experience it (social holiness). In Wesley's time, Methodists visited people in prisons and cared for orphans. They organized labor collectives, and started schools and hospitals in poor neighborhoods. Wesley believed that our faith would lead us into the world in ways that helped others enjoy life to the fullest.
For four years, as lay and clergy members gather for Annual Conference, we are cultivating God's Tree of Life, focusing on four life-affirming themes. In June 2015, we will gather under the broad, graceful branches of God's promise of abundant life with a focus on the theme: Renewal of Creation. Renewal of Creation builds on the themes of the past two years.
2013: IMAGINE NO MALARIA. Full life means health. In 2013 we said that living life to the fullest means working to end death by malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. We sent a team to distribute bed nets in Bom Jesus, Angola, and we raised more than $1.5 million to continue the work. Well done!
2014: SAND CREEK MASSACRE - HEALING RELATIONSHIPS. Living life fully means healing ancient wounds. We met with Native American neighbors in 2014 and listened, remembered, and repented of a long and violent history to clear the land of American Indians so it could be occupied by settlers. We commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, honoring those whose lives were taken, repenting of a history of broken relationships, and beginning to form new relations of trust.
2015: RENEWAL OF CREATION. Relationships between human beings and the rest of God's creation are delicate both theologically and ecologically. Genesis describes the power and the beauty of God's creation. We live in a time when we see almost daily the harmful effects of human activity on God's creation. What does holy living look like in our time and place? How do we live fully? How do we live so that others may live fully? I'm very pleased that Dr. Rebecca Parker will be our speaker and bible study leader in both conferences. Rebecca is a clergy member of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference and co-author, with Rita Nakashima Brock, of Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire.
This Mountain Sky Outlook is the first installment of a blog on Renewal of Creation. In 2009 the Council of Bishops issued a Pastoral Letter, "God's Renewed Creation." As we prepare for Annual Conference in June, let's think together about what our faith in Jesus means for how we live in God's creation.
I invite you to pay attention to the world around you these weeks. Where do you encounter God's creation: the sun and the moon; the waters and the dry land; plants and trees with all their fruits; swarms of living creatures that swim and fly and creep upon the Earth? As you read your Bible notice Jesus in nature: on the sea, on a mountain, in the garden. Pay attention to yourself - you are a precious and beloved child of God. Pay attention to others. Pay attention to how you fit into God's whole creation: how you tend it, how you use it, how you take it for granted.
In the comments section of the blog share your reflections on this question: How does the way I live care for God's creation?
The earth is the Lord's, and all that is in it. The world and those who live in it.
Psalm 24: 1, NRSV
Christ shine in your life,
Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanovsky
Read about "Assuming role of 'creation care' as God's mandate" by UMNS writer Linda Bloom