2018 July Pastor’s Pen

From the Pastor… 

“Is it hot enough for you?”  That’s the question some of my neighbors have asked me when they see me out walking my dog around the neighborhood.  Sometimes I want to reply, “in a few months we will be complaining that it’s too cold!”  Such is life in Western Pennsylvania.  And such was life in ancient times.  Some Biblical scholars say that when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, all of creation was affected, even nature.  That explains such things as temperature variations, tornadoes, floods, volcanos, etc.

God called Abraham and his family to better pastures in a place called Canaan (Genesis 12).  Later, when they find themselves enslaved in Egypt, God called Moses to a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3).  For 40 years the people were nomads, wandering around the Sinai desert, a place of extreme temperatures, little water, and filled with poisonous snakes and tarantulas.

When I first visited the Holy Land, my first impression was how rough the terrain was.  It seemed more like a dry, rocky, desolate place than one filled with milk and honey.  There is a story that the people of Israel tell that says when God created the earth he carried two sacks of rocks with him; one sack God distributed evenly around the earth, and the other sack he dumped on the Holy Land!  I wondered why they have been fighting over this small area of land for centuries.

When I stood on top of Mt. Nebo, in the same place where Moses looked down upon the land, I began to understand.  Down in the plain beyond was the ancient city of Jericho which appeared like a giant green oasis in the middle of the plain.

When we moved further down we saw the Jordan River with greenery on its banks.  The melting snow on top of Mt. Herman (in modern day Lebanon) was its source.  I began to understand and appreciate just how valuable were these sources of water, and why people would fight over it.

Simply put, water means life.  Without it nothing could live.  When I traveled through the Sinai desert in Egypt, I learned that if it weren’t for the Nile River Egypt wouldn’t exist.  In fact, when we send space probes to distant planets, each probe has an instrument on it designed to detect water.  If it detects water then there might be life there as well.

The book of Genesis says that we are to be the caretakers of God’s creation, that we are to have dominion over it, not dominate it.  As hard as it is to believe polluted water and lack of drinkable water has become a real issue in many parts of the world.  In the prayers of church on Sunday mornings and in our new red hymnals are many prayers regarding creation (i.e. page 81).

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us coworkers in your creation.  Give us wisdom and reverence to us the resources of nature so that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through your son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  (ELW p. 80)

A Steward of Creation,

Pastor Gary Nelson