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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Matthew 25 and care of Creation go hand in hand

 

Worship service at Presbyterian Center addresses climate crisis

September 10, 2019

From Sept. 1 to Oct. 4, Christians around the world celebrate the Season of Creation. Some pray, some do hands-on projects, some advocate. It’s powerfully good work that’s urgently needed.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett enters 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, has assisted in materials for Presbyterians to learn about and act on climate change, a video crew filmed part of the chapel service. (Photo by Tammy Warren)

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, believes that 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 myriad 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, she said.

“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 Creation during a recent chapel service at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) headquarters in Louisville.

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 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 the call to act boldly and compassionately to serve “the least of these.”

“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?”

Through taking action to impact climate change, she said, 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.”

She added, “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.”

Referring to verse 35 — “I was hungry and you gave me food” — Moffett said,  “What about those who have access to land?  … 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.”

Citing Jesus’ words “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,” she said, “I think of Flint, Michigan, where people are still paying for water that is essentially poisoning them. 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. …

As you did it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

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 Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, and other PC(USA) staff presented ways congregations, communities and individuals can make a difference in redeeming creation. (Photo by 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, he said, by joining God in prophetic action as individuals, congregations and communities:

  • Congregations can care for 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
  • Communities in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico are making a difference for 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

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 work related to climate change.

 Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Climate Crisis

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Jennifer Evans, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Mari Evans, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray:

God, be with us amid myriad challenges — devastating fires, floods, droughts and storms, plus other effects of global warming. Forgive our culpability in creating these problems and equip us as we strive to bring glory to your name through enlightened care of your Creation. Amen.