Apr 27 2014

Hope for Creation

_CES3069In the liturgical calendar this is the Second Sunday of Easter.  In the denomination I serve it is also Earth Stewardship Sunday.  This morning I had the privilege of preaching and presenting multi-media programs at South Elkhorn Christian Church in Lexington.  Mickey Anders, one of my personal heroes, is pastor there and he asked me some time ago to be their guest speaker.  It was great getting to share about our calling to be good stewards of God’s Creation with his congregation.  I hope a lot of other Disciples churches took advantage of Earth Stewardship Sunday to emphasize this calling as well.

_CES3063I wrote about my love for Easter and its message last week on this blog.  I mentioned there that one of the most meaningful messages is God’s ability to bring good from bad situations.  As we reflect on how the earth has been treated the past hundred years or so it is clear that this has not been a good situation.  We have polluted once pristine waters, fouled the air, destroyed incredible amounts of rains forests, literally removed mountains, hastened the extinction of numerous flora and fauna, and apparently altered the climate at the same time.  I’m not sure how any of this could be considered good.  I do believe, however, that the God of resurrection is at work and that it is, indeed, God’s desire to bring good from this bad situation.

When I first became interested in Creation Care twenty-five years ago there were not a lot of books to be found on Christianity and the environment.  That has certainly changed.  Hundreds of such books are now available.  Back then you rarely heard about churches being intentional about Creation Care and ecological responsibility.  That, too, has changed.  In my denomination there is a growing number of churches that have made commitments to be Green Chalice congregations.  We are encouraged regularly to remember our divine responsibility to be good stewards of God’s earth.   I don’t know what’s happening in other denominations but I hope that there, too, a growing commitment to Creation Care can be found.

_DSC3549About forty-five years ago there was much discussion about whether Christianity had contributed to the ecological crisis by espousing an anthropocentric understanding of the human role in Creation.  It was said by some that along with Christianity came the idea that nature is not sacred but disposable, that humans are not really a part of nature, they are above it.  There may have been some truth to these arguments but it truly does seem that more and more Christians are beginning to recognize that we are, indeed, a part of nature and that God has given us the role not of dominating nature but tending to and caring for it.

_CES2984Hopefully with this better understanding of our role we can start doing what we were supposed to all along.  Obviously we cannot undo all the damage that has been done but there are areas where restoration is possible.  Working together we can help others, including our government officials, to see the moral and divine imperative to treat the earth and its resources in a wiser and more sustainable manner.  We can provide those who follow us with a healthier planet.  That will result in healthier lives for us too, as well as more opportunities for God to reveal Himself through Creation.  This may seem overly optimistic to some or perhaps even impossible but, once again, I truly believe that God’s specialty is bringing good out of bad situations.  Having Earth Stewardship Sunday fall closely to Easter is a good thing.  It reminds us all that there is, in fact, hope for all of us and for Creation itself.

–Chuck

(I took these images the past couple of days in the Lexington area.  I want to say a special thank you to Mickey Anders and Holly Fuqua for allowing me to help lead in worship today at South Elkhorn Christian Church.)

 


Mar 10 2013

God Did Provide

“All I have needed thy hand hath provided–great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.” –Thomas O. Chrisholm

John Audubon SP sycamore treeOn January 13 I posted a blog here called “God Will Provide.”  That was the date I resigned my position as pastor here in Pikeville.  When I resigned I had no other job waiting.  I simply knew it was time for me to leave here and felt I could trust God to provide me another place of service when the time was right.  This afternoon I received a call telling me that I have been selected to become the new pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henderson, Kentucky.  I will begin my work there in May.  I am so very grateful for this opportunity and want to offer my heartfelt thanks to my heavenly Father for being the God who does, indeed, provide.

I am not going to say that I have had no anxious thoughts the past couple of months; my faith is not always what it should be.  Still, I can honestly say I knew that God would eventually open a door for me to serve elsewhere.  Both of God’s books, Creation and the Bible, point to a God who is faithful and good.  I cannot remember a time in my life that God has let me down.  I had no reason to believe He would now.

_DSC8247For those of you who don’t know, Henderson is in the western part of Kentucky.  It is located right across the Ohio River from Evansville, Indiana.  The geography there is quite different from what I’ve been used to the past twenty-four years.  For almost a quarter of a century I’ve lived and served in the hills of Appalachia.  I love these mountains immensely and will no doubt miss them.  Still, I look forward to exploring the natural areas in and around Henderson.  John James Audubon lived in Henderson for a while and there is a state park there named in his honor.  The area is also on a major flyway for migrating birds.  I have a feeling I’ll be doing a good bit of bird photography in the years to come.  Not far from Henderson there are a number of other state parks and a national forest.  There will be no shortage of places and things to explore on my days off.

One of the exciting things about moving to an area that differs geographically and naturally from the one you are used to is that it affords new opportunities to see God in His Creation.  Since I will be exposed to things there that I cannot see here, it only makes sense that I’ll obtain knowledge about God and Creation that I might not know otherwise.  Without a doubt, God is to be found as much in the rivers, lakes and sloughs of western Kentucky as the hills and valleys of the eastern region of the Bluegrass State.  I look forward to sharing with you what I discover there.

John Audubon SP lakeIn the meantime, I encourage you to be aware of God’s presence wherever you happen to be.  Whether you experience God through Creation, the Scriptures or any other means God chooses, I hope you will always remember that He truly is the God who provides.

–Chuck

(I took the three pictures above at John James Audubon State Park when I was working on my book, Kentucky: Unbridled Spirit and Beauty.)