Westminster Presbyterian Church

Westminster Presbyterian Church, 17 William St., Auburn.

The city of Seattle is named after a Suquamish and Duwamish chief. Chief Si’ahl, or better known as Chief Seattle in white, settled America, and was very accommodating toward white settlers. He is attributed with a powerful quote that reads, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” There are many of the chief’s quotes that show his love and care for creation, but this one is my favorite. It shows a respect for all creation as many bodies, but also as one system working in relationship with each other.

A study of biology shows that there is a purpose for all life forms in relation to one another. Some of those purposes include oxygen production, food for other life forms within the food chain and pollination of plants for the food supply. This list could go on forever. Scientists are continually discovering new functions of various forms of life and how it interweaves into symbiotic relationships with other life. But what could all this mean for a Christian?

God created humankind and all life forms to be in relationship with Godself and each other. Nature worships God with its beauty, its song, its perfect function and its peacefulness. Humankind was created to do the same within nature. We are to live in perfect harmony with nature, which includes other humans, utilizing its resources but also caring for creation so as to not deplete its resources. Creation is meant to be sustainable on its own, living together and sustaining one another, but the greed and disregard of humanity toward all of creation is endangering the future sustainability of life altogether. When humanity was given dominion over all creatures, God did not intend for that rule over living things to include the destruction of nature to the point of unsustainability.

The fact of the matter is, whether anyone wants to believe it or not, this planet is becoming unsustainable because humanity has reneged on the God-given responsibility to care for it. Our living planet, a system of organisms, perfectly created, is being destroyed. But again, what can we do to help?

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Discover the importance of creation and the scriptural responsibility to care for it. If you understand the responsibility set forth to humankind by God, then you should be compelled to research, educating yourselves, educating others and taking action to do your part in creation care. Maybe this is something you have never heard of in a church context. Maybe it is completely new to you as a God-given responsibility. Maybe it is a responsibility you are familiar with, but just do not know how to incorporate it into daily discipline. If so, start asking questions. There are many scriptural references to support creation care. As you educate yourself in the responsibility to care for creation, read books, utilize the internet and speak about it with others. You can educate each other, passing knowledge back and forth to develop a system of sustainability. Knowledge is power, and that power can and should be utilized to make changes toward the longevity of all created life.

Take action to make change. After you learn about your responsibility toward a more sustainable earth and our responsibility toward creation, then put it into action. This may appear differently in urban and rural areas. It can involve permaculture gardening, reducing the use of plastics and single-use disposables, reusing and upcycling items, or setting up a thorough recycling system for your house, church or workplace. These are just a few examples of the multitude of steps you can take to preserve the created world of symbiotic life.

Consider it a calling from God to preserve life. You may not be able to do it all, but if we all do our part, change will be noticeable and enjoyable. The next time you find yourself in the woods, or even in your backyard, look around at the surrounding life swaying in the breeze. Trees reach up to the heavens in worship and giving glory to God through their beauty and swaying song. Trees are a part of the web in which we are a thread as they provide oxygen, shelter, shade from the hot sun and food. What we do to that tree’s sustainability, we also do to our own sustainability. Creation’s upkeep is our responsibility to God and ourselves.

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Kimberly Patch is a graduate of Northeastern Seminary. She lives in Auburn with her husband and children. She is also a foster mother, a full-time employee in human services, a social justice advocate and a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. For more information, visit westminsterauburn.org.