Stewards of the Garden

I have shared here before that I am a passionate advocate of utilizing biblical principles and Christian faith as a guide for success in my life. What you may not know about me is that I am very active in The Riverside Church of New York, sit on the Riverside Theatre Board and regularly attend services there.  Recently I gave this speech and received such an amazing response that I wanted to share it here.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15)

This world, of which we humans are an important part, is God’s Creation. As Christians, we acknowledge that Creation belongs, ultimately, to God, and so we seek to take care of Creation in a way that honors and pleases God.

The word “ecology” comes from the Greek root oikos, which is translated to mean “house.” Ecology, then, is the study of our earthly house, and ecological concerns focus on the health of this house.

Impoverished people and poor land are fundamentally connected: environmental destruction results in unhealthy economies, and poverty forces communities to depend on unhealthy land practices like slash-and-burn agriculture.  The results are a destruction of the land lasting for years such as the dust bowl and the black blizzard from the 1930’s.

As our environment continues to suffer from deforestation, pollution, global warming, desertification, and more tropical storms, these communities continue to be ‘the least of these’ not just because of their economic depravation, but also because of their vulnerability to poor habitat conditions. Engaging in activities that contribute to environmental healing, then, is part of a proper response to Christ’s call to care for those of our brothers and sisters who suffer the most.

Engaging in actions that help to heal the land and reverse ecologically-destructive patterns like deforestation is part of proclaiming the good news (Gospel) of Christ. 

EARTH (H)OURS is the 2009 project of the Riverside Theatre’s Cultural Animators Series, a program where artists use their work to inform, educate and promote change.   May 1-10, EARTH (H)OURS will use drama, dance, film and the visual arts to encourage the development of environmentally responsible values and advance active participation in sustainable living practices among populations traditionally under represented in the environmental movement.

The goal of EARTH (H)OURS is to promote environmental accountability, local sustainability and green economic entrepreneurship.  In partnership with Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Education at Riverside, Riverside Youth Ministry, the project will present:

  • A Living Word Graffiti Battle to bring 20 young visual artists to create 8×10 murals in Riverbank State Park using the word “life”, hoping to catalyze deeper thought and community action around the value of life. Performances by Kurtis Blow’s Hip Hop Choir, Grace Kelly Jazz Quartet, Urban Word Poets and green activities will fill the afternoon. We will need volunteers to prep canvases by painting them on May 2 and to build the frames for the canvases on May 9. Please stop by the Box Office to sign up.
  • Our Riverside Youth Ministry is creating a Greenhouse & Orchard Project. A first harvest celebration of our fresh vegetables will take place on May 3. Please come out and help our youth bring fresh produce to our food pantry. Contact Rev Hill for more information.
  • We will screen award-winning documentary films, such as The Great Warming, and Trashed , present environmentally themed dance performances by Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and Janusphere Dance Company and a solo theatre performance based on the life and words of Rachel Carson, pioneer of the modern environmental movement.

Equally important to these events will be the post performance Earth Talks, dialogues with recognized leaders in the eco-justice, environmental field such as Majora Carter, Omar Freilla and Peggy Shepard and others.

Good stewardship is taking care of all that God has given to us, including the natural world and its resources. Please join us in our efforts through Earth (H)Ours.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb

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