The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants too.
Because God is the one who established it on the seas;
God set it firmly on the waters. -Psalm 24:1,2
Sometimes one of our delightful children will ask us, “When is kids’ day?” You know, like mother’s day and father’s day, they think they need their own day. We always tell them, “Every day is kids’ day! Every day we hug you and tell you we love you, drive you around to your activities, make sure you have food to eat you reasonably like, and supply you with clean dishes, clothes and beds!” It’s a little joke in our family.
Earth Day ought to be the same way, don’t you think? We ought to not need an Earth Day. Every day we should hug an animal or a tree and tell the earth how we love it! Every day we should use its water carefully and keep the trash out of its air and soil and water. Every day we should make sure that it is cared for and celebrated! But the earth, unlike our children, is seemingly quiet when it is in need. It doesn’t shout out, “MOM!?!” when it cannot find a sock or cannot find relief from greenhouse gases. It sits there quietly, at least for a long while.
One of the biggest adjustments to living in the Permian Basin after being in the Midwest for a decade is how much the culture here seems to take the environment for granted. There’s no citywide recycling program here, styrofoam is still in, and community leaders regularly decry the plastic bags all over our highways. All of this stood out to me at first but it is amazing how quickly I began to ignore the trash that blows into my yard, to use plastic bags instead of cloth at the store, and to throw things away that I previously would have recycled.
Recently a guest came to worship at our church and noticed our recycling bins out in the hallway outside of the worship center. “Hey, you recycle!” he remarked. “I see that so rarely around here!” He was impressed. People who care for the Lord’s earth are giving a unique witness in our West Texas world. The psalmist in Psalm 24 declares that the earth belongs to the creative Creator who came up with the platypus and the petunia and yes, the people. Here is what we are saying to the people of this community when we care for the earth:
We will choose to treasure the earth, which means we will choose to treasure you. We will not just discard things without thinking, and we will not throw you away either. We appreciate all the weird and wonderful flora and fauna of this great planet, and we will appreciate you as a unique creation of God, too. We will be stewards of our land and our relationships, for it is all God’s gift.
Thanks for reminding us to care for the earth and the people entrusted to us, Earth Day!