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Foundations of a Green Theology: Joy and Creativity in Creation

Green theology is a way of framing our faith, beliefs and actions to lead us to be good caretakers of the earth, respectful of natural resources, humans, animals and land. It is a recognition of the elements of our faith traditions that support us in leading lives that are conscientious and harmonious with the world we live in. The many biblical passages about creation are part of the foundations of green theology.

The earliest biblical writings about creation are found not in Genesis, but in the book of Psalms. The theme of God as creator is echoed throughout the Bible, in poetry and theology.

How do the biblical passages here portray the creativity inherent in the work of God's creation? How could these images of creativity and creation inspire people of faith to live in a way that is respectful of earth and its resources?

Psalm 104

LORD, you make springs flow in the valleys,
And rivers run between the hills.
The rivers provide water
For the wild animals;
There the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

In the trees near by,
The birds make their nests and sing.
There by the rivers the birds build their nests;
The storks nest in the fir trees.

The wild goats live in the high mountains,
and the rock badgers hide in the cliffs.
You created the moon to mark the months;
the sun knows the time to set.
You made the night, and in the darkness
all the wild animals come out.

The young lions roar while they hunt,
looking for the food that God provides.
When the sun rises, they go back
and lie down in their dens.
Then people go out to do their work
and keep working until evening.

LORD, you have made so many things!
How wisely you made them all!
The earth is filled with your creatures.

Genesis 2:19
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. Proverbs 8:

John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Acts 17:24-28
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'

Colossians 1:15-20
He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

Proverbs 8:1, 22-31
Listen as Wisdom calls out...
"The Lord formed me from the beginning,
before he created anything else.
I was appointed in ages past,
at the very first, before the earth began.
I was born before the oceans were created,
before the springs bubbled forth their waters.
Before the mountains were formed,
before the hills, I was born-
before he had made the earth and fields
and the first handfuls of soil.
I was there when he established the heavens,
when he drew the horizon on the oceans.
I was there when he set the clouds above,
when he established springs deep in the earth.
I was there when he set the limits of the seas,
so they would not spread beyond their boundaries.
And when he marked off the earth's foundations,
I was the architect at his side.
I was his constant delight,
rejoicing always in his presence.
And how happy I was with the world he created;
how I rejoiced with the human family!

Image of Psalm 19

Reflection: The many expressions of the creation story reflect the joy and creativity that flow from belief in God as creator. There are many layers of meaning in each of these biblical passages. The idea of "Trinity" reflecting the idea that God is present, and always has been present in the world, as creator, redeemer, and spirit. The idea of stewardship, of humankind helping to name the animals; of humans tending flocks and planting gardens. The pure joy and beauty of creation. For reflection: how do these readings support a green theology?

April 2017