This article ran in the February 2010 issue of The Messenger, the newsletter of St. John Lutheran Church, Sterling, IL.
We just finished an exciting four week long survey of environmental stewardship during the Sunday School hour, and I’m grateful for the large attendance and great participation I had from so many of you. We started with an overview of the expansive universe God has created for us, then spent a week looking at God’s work in and through creation, so that we could see that God is very close us in all we do. We also learned that an understanding of God’s care for creation and our responsibility to care for the environment is not a new idea, but one that goes back almost two thousand years to the founding centuries of the Christian faith. Finally, we spent a week thinking about what our modern-day response to ecological challenges ought to be. This last week’s discussion was especially fruitful, and I wanted to share our conclusions with the whole congregation so that the conversation can continue.
Personally, there is much we can do as Christians to protect the world God has made for us. Personally, we can aim for creating less waste, recycling more of the products we use, and shopping wisely to choose products with minimal packaging and packaging that is recyclable. Buying locally produced goods is a good way to cut down on the carbon dioxide emissions that come from long distance transportation. Participate in local farmer’s markets or plant a home garden. Improving the energy efficiency of your home can save you money and possibly even earn you tax credits. It doesn’t take a Christian to do these things, but when we recognize that God is present in and through creation, we will care for it as the good gift from God that it truly is. Environmental responsibility can be part of our personal response of gratitude to the Gospel.
We also discussed what we as a congregation can do to better care for the environment, and I’m extremely pleased to tell you that we already do most of the ideas we thought of. For example, we’ve recently completed a project to replace our florescent fixtures with fixtures that use half the bulbs and 40% less power throughout the entire church, and lights in the sanctuary have been replaced with bulbs that produce brighter, whiter light while using 75% less electricity. Not only are these steps a good way to care for the environment, but they eventually will save us a lot of money! St. John also excels at using real dishes instead of disposable dishes and recycling, and we make “fairly traded” coffee available from Lutheran World Relief. Our “Green Team” is always looking for new ways to help the the people of God care for the creation God has given us, so if you have ideas, let me know!
As we await the coming of Spring, may you know a greater connection to our Creator, the God of all the Seasons and the Maker of us all.
Intern Ted Carnahan