Summary: God has blessed us through His creation. This sermon looks at how we are blessed by God through His trees and how we are called to look after and care for them.
Our new worship series the Seasons of Creation,
begins with Forest Sunday.
Over the next four weeks we are going to focus on how God has blessed us through His creation and what it means for us to live as His disciples in this creation.
Throughout history Christians have had a mixed reaction to how they relate to creation.
Some Christians have reacted against caring for the environment,
They have not wanted to be green.
partly because the environmental movement, the green movement has been hijacked at times by some radicals,
and partly because some other ancient religions focus on worshipping the creation,
rather than the creator.
Now that is a problem.
It is always a problem when a person loves the creation more than God.
Have you ever met a person who is so much in love with something that they don’t care about loving God and then other people?
In reaction to this some Christians have adopted the unhealthy scare tactics of saying if you care for the environment then you are following the ways of pagan gods, of Satan.
But that does not have to be the case.
In fact one of the first things God says to humans is to care for the garden he has provided.
To care for nature.
In Genesis chapter 2 verse 15 we heard the following;
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Now even this verse has been misunderstood,
especially if people do no research on this verse or what lies behind the word work.
What do you here when you hear the word ‘work’.
That you need to plow it?
Something we do to benefit ourselves.
Even change it for how it suits us.
How we view work will determine how we see this passage.
Many people will only do work if it benefits them.
Well the Hebrew understanding of work is not so selfish.
Not so self centred.
In the Hebrew the word God uses here is, awbad.
This gives a broader understanding of how God sees us at work.
It involves taking responsible, leading and directing.
But it also involves something else
work is not something we do only for ourselves.
It is something we do in order to care for, to serve, to look after
whatever we are working.
And so when God says to us to awbad the garden, nature,
He is not saying work it to its bone.
Or to get whatever we can out of it.
Or only to work at it when you can profit from it.
Take advantage of it.
But rather we are to care for it, serve it, take care of it and some English translations even say care and maintain it.
Like a caring gardener cares for their prize rose bushes.
God’s intention for us is that we care for his garden, his forest, his creation by taking responsibility to work it carefully.
Well listen to what God has given us through His creation;
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens— 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth a and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth b and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams c came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground— 7 the LORD God formed the man d from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.
God’s creation is a gift to us.
A gift of life.
Isn’t that a wonderful gift God has given us?
Every aspect of creation is from God.
God has given life to everything in creation,
something reinforced by our reading from Acts 17
God creates life and has given us everything we need for life.
Some of which is beautiful for the eyes,
Other parts of creation make life possible.
Some of which do both.
Consider the trees.
What looks better?