Matthew 25 and care of creation go hand in hand

 

Worship service at the Presbyterian Center to be part of video addressing climate crisis

By Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett entered the chapel to speak about the connection between care of creation and being a Matthew 25 church. Since Blessed Tomorrow, the faith arm of PC(USA) partner ecoAmerica, assisted in materials for Presbyterians to learn about and act on climate change, a video crew filmed part of the chapel service. Tammy Warren

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, believes God has intricately woven our lives together at this time in history so we may be part of the healing work of God’s creation.

As stewards of God’s creation amid a myriad of challenges — devastating fires, floods, droughts and storms — we are to continue to bring glory to God and be a blessing to God’s people, particularly people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.

“God is good all the time, and all the time God is good,” Moffett said as she brought a message about Matthew 25 and caring for God’s creation during a chapel service at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) headquarters in Louisville on Aug. 14.

The 223rd General Assembly (2018) approved policy for the whole church to raise a prophetic voice throughout the Presbyterian denomination regarding the urgency of healing the earth, the common home to all life. The policy states our communities of faith must be “bold and courageous” as we address one of the greatest moral challenges the world has ever faced.

At the heart of Jesus’ teaching in this Scripture in the Gospel of Matthew — and the bold vision and invitation of Matthew 25 in the PC(USA) —  is to act boldly and compassionately to serve “the least of these.”

Chris Roseland, manager of Mission Engagement and Support, read Matt. 25:31–46, Jesus’ teaching about caring for ‘the least of these.’ Kathy Melvin

“God is concerned about those who live on the margins, on the precipice,” Moffett said. “God is concerned about how we respond to those who are in need.”

“ ‘The least of these’ challenge the authenticity of our faith,” Moffett said. “Have we really been transformed?”

She explained that through taking action to impact climate change, we have the opportunity to “bless,” and to “re-bless” the least of these, today and for generations to come.

“Whole communities in some places are being displaced, torn apart because of global warming,” Moffett said. “We realize God cares for everyone. The least of these, even the earth and the animals and the plants … and the creepy crawly things and the things that swim in the sea…. All things come from God, and God is good to bless us, and we are to steward that.”

When we think about creation and about the least of these — people who are hungry — Moffett said, “We have to be able to give them something. We have an abundance, but we are also responsible for making sure that we are stewarding the Earth in such a way that we share what we have, and the Earth can bring forth produce.”

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat
“What about those who have access to land?” Moffett asked “Land is the way they make their bread and butter. Land is the way in which they are able to sustain their families and their communities. When the land is messed up, then there is misery.”

I was thirsty and you gave me drink
“I think of Flint, Michigan, where people are still paying for water that is essentially poisoning them,” Moffett said. “We’ve got to care for creation, so that people will have water to drink, and they can be refreshed and renewed by that wonderful liquid that God gives us, that precious commodity that so often we take for granted.

“We’ve got to make sure that we take care of God’s Earth so that our human siblings may be able to be refreshed and renewed through the waters of the Earth. As you did it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.

“How we steward the places and spaces, what we do to them, when we put up fences and when we build walls, do we fully understand that everything belongs to God — the whole creation?” Moffett asked.

When our brothers and sisters are in need and they come from one space to the next, are we caring for that space? Are we making that space open and welcoming?

“The leaves on the trees are for the healing of the nations,” Moffett said, quoting Rev. 22:2. “When people are sick, do we take their medicine and put the highest cost on it, so that those who need it can’t even afford it or benefit from it? Or do we understand that these needs have been given so our humanity might be healed by the Holy One using human hands?”

Care of creation has everything to do with being a Matthew 25 church, Moffett said.

“God has a way of challenging us. When we care for and respond to people and creation in this world God has given us to steward — in a way that glorifies God and lifts up God’s people — then I dare say that we are being faithful followers of Jesus Christ.”

As the video crew documented the chapel service, Stated Clerk the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, and other PC(USA) staff presented ways congregations, communities and individuals can make a difference in redeeming creation. Tammy Warren

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)., said “God is alive and at work in redeeming creation.” There is much we can do to care for creation in our world by joining God in prophetic action as individuals, congregations and communities:

  • Congregations everywhere can care for God’s creation by conserving energy, recycling, composting waste, teaching children to grow and harvest food, and teaching and preaching about creation care in worship and educational settings.
  • Communities in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico are making a difference for God’s creation as they rebuild with solar power, garden organically and create resilient structures.
  • Individuals can impact climate change by reducing energy use, changing habits as consumers and investing in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
  • The broader world can help turn things around by advocating for policies and systems that support renewable energy, clean air and water, and protect the land.

The PC(USA) has long been involved in education and advocacy on behalf of creation, said Rebecca Barnes, coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program. She said a new partnership with Blessed Tomorrow, the faith arm of the national organization ecoAmerica, is working ecumenically to unite Christians and other faith groups on the issue of climate change. A video crew working with ecoAmerica is creating a short PC(USA)-specific video that can be used across the denomination to engage and empower Presbyterians in the important and urgent work related to climate change.


Become a Matthew 25 church

Matthew 25 is a bold new vision and invitation from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that calls us to actively engage in the world around us — serving people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor. When we practice justice, love and kindness, we become a living translation of Jesus Christ. Your congregation can join us on this journey. Learn more.


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