Posts Tagged: ellen davis

Grounded Scriptures: created in God’s image

AND A PRAYER. Great God, you have created us in your image, and imprinted upon us your attributes. You have created us to be creators, you have created us to be creative. Deep in our souls is imprinted your limitless vision of this world’s fertility and abundance; sharp on our hearts is your call to exercise good stewardship and loving care over what is entrusted to us. We feel the true goodness of the world you have created And the particular goodness of our little corner of the world. We are standing on holy ground; ought we to have removed our shoes? Great God, Into your servants breathe the inspiration of your holy spirit, Scrub away whatever is covering your image hidden inside. Allow us to pray and to think and to speak from that place of creativity, of wisdom, of love and tender care. Be in our work, and in our play. Be love in our hearts today. In the strong name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

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Grounded Scriptures: Working or Worshipping the land?

When Adam is placed in the garden of Eden he is placed in relationship to the fertile soil for which he is named: he is to “till it and keep it,” if you read the NRSV, or to “work it and take care of it,” in the NIV, “work the ground and keep it in order” if you’re partial to Eugene Peterson’s Message, or “tend and watch over it” if you read the New Living Translation. What on earth is he doing? Two Hebrew verbs. One is abad, to “serve,” most literally, as a servant serves a master, or to “worship,” as a person does to God. It does have the rarer meaning of “to work” without an indication of for whom you work – but usually it indicates a service rendered by an inferior for a superior. My California soul is deeply delighted at the notion of our first ancestor “worshipping” the soil. And I’m also thrilled to see that there was a positive paradigm for a human’s labor rendered to the soil, before the fall and expulsion from Eden whereupon we are told “in toil you shall eat of [the fruit of the land] all the days of your life. Two is shamar, to “watch,” most literally, to observe with one’s eyes, OR as a watchman watches over a castle, to keep, protect, or preserve. I respect and appreciate the idea of protecting and preserving the land, but there’s also the aspect of watching it that takes a learner’s eye – to learn what the land can do, what it needs, how it will react to rain and sun and tilling and any other interaction it may have. Ellen Davis comes up with four words: when it comes to the land, Adam is to “work it and serve it, observe it and preserve it.” We must fall to our knees, learn from it, respect its limitations, appreciate its art, marvel at its wonders, protect them from harm. This is our call. (Scripture, Culture, Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible. p. 30)

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Ellen Davis and Wendell Berry Speaking of Faith

Land, Life, and the Poetry of Creatures, is adorned with a photo of dirt-covered bare feet. Biblical scholar Ellen Davis is helping to shape a new approach to thinking about human domination of the Earth and its creatures. With her friend, the farmer poet Wendell Berry, they speak to our collective grief at destruction of the natural world and nourish a “chastened” yet “tenacious” hope.

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