Happy Earth Day: Environmental Tithing and Praise
Gungor - The Earth is Yours
Earth Day fills my little brain with two main thoughts: 1. Our earth is amazing and 2. What can I do to save it? Last Sunday, Parade magazine’s feature article (yes, I still get the newspaper – don’t judge) was on the “zero waste” movement. The Johnson family creates one little jar’s worth of waste every year. My gum-chewing habit probably fills at least one garbage can annually (note to self: develop bio-degradable bubble gum, sell idea on “Shark Tank,” become a millionaire, save the planet, feel better about self). If you want to feel completely inspired/inadequate go to Bea Johnson’s zero-waste website and live by her mantra “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.”
But as people of faith, every day should Earth Day, right? It’s our responsibility to steward the earth in a way that is pleasing to God. Perhaps, as David Rhoads, Professor of New Testament at Luther School of Theology suggests, we should be practicing “environmental tithing”:
Can we reduce our electrical use by ten percent? Can we reduce the gas for heating by ten percent? Can we reduce the water we use by ten percent? Can we eat ten percent less food that comes from a distance? Can we eat fewer meals with meat? Can we travel ten percent less than usual? Can we invest a tenth of our financial resources in funds that contribute to sustainability? Can we set other goals to reduce our impact on the environment by a tenth—or more? And if we can, could we then contribute the money saved toward further efforts at restoring Earth? Tithing is just a beginning as we contemplate all we can do on a daily basis at home, at work, and in society to foster and maintain a sustainable world.
On Earth Day we can also celebrate. We turn to the Psalms and relish how they proclaim the glory of God and God’s creation. And God continues to write psalms. The band Gungor has written one, “The Earth is Yours” – here it is in part (and watch the entire “nature-inspired” video):
Your voice it thunders
The oaks start twisting
The forest sounds with cedars breaking
The waters see You and start their writhing
From the depths a song is rising
Now it’s rising from the ground
Holy, Holy Lord the earth is Yours and singing
Holy, Holy Lord
The earth is Yours
The earth is Yours
Indeed, holy, holy Lord the earth is Yours. Help us to act like what we do to and for our earth is an act of worship. Forgive us when we fail miserably. We long to be good stewards, environmental tithers, and generous disciples as we shepherd this incredible gift of Yours. Amen.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. She hopes that because of her gum chewing that she won’t be asked to appear on “My Strange Addictions.” Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.