The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. - Psalm 24:1
One of the pieces of business at our Penn Central Conference Annual Meeting was to vote yay or nay on a resolution that will be proposed at our upcoming General Synod in July. The resolution is entitled, ““Who will speak for the Trees?” A Resolution on the Rights of Nature.”
It sounds odd, doesn’t it, to talk about Nature having rights. Yet our times are such that we must think differently about the created world.
In the brief summary we were given at the meeting, it says, “This resolution, submitted by the New Hampshire Conference, calls for a change in the relationship between humans and nature, from one of separation and exploitation to interdependence and becoming citizens of the web of life on earth.”
This notion of being affected by nature and vice versa is becoming more clear as we experience the obvious changes in weather, the crossing over of disease from animals to humans in ways never seen before, and the harrowing effect of extended droughts in our nation and elsewhere. The web of life holds us together when we act responsibly as God’s stewards of the created order.
But a web can be a fragile thing, just as those that it holds are fragile. Its stretchable, silken threads eventually find their breaking point ruining their beauty, utility, and awesome, delicate strength. It’s the same with us in our world.
Some have called the web of life the circle of life. That sense of no beginning and no end, the completeness of the balance struck when all parts of the circle are strong.
Elton John and Tim Rice wrote the song entitled, “The Circle of Life,” made popular through the animated movie, “The Lion King.” The words of the song speak so well to ways we need to respect creation. Not all of the words are printed here to avoid some repetition…
Circle of Life
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give
In the circle of life
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life
Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round…
The circle of life or the web of life – anyway you look at it, we humans have a huge role to play in ensuring that life on this planet continues and thrives. It is not just a responsibility it is a measure of how well we have listened to and understood God’s mandate that we become stewards of the earth.
We do not lack for resources and ideas that can help us get started on stemming the tide of recklessness and irresponsibility and greed that have brought us to the brink of destruction. Perhaps what we lack is a unified resolve to work together as citizens of this planet to rescue our plants, animals, water, air, land, sea and its creatures from defilement and death.
We are so fortunate that we have a denomination with many members who are not only concerned with what’s happening to creation, but are also willing to do something about it. Let’s join our hearts and minds with them as we seek to make a better world in which to live.