Welcome to St. Stephen's Anglican Church
Diocese of New Westminster
St. Stephen's is a welcoming Christian Church providing spiritual and caring support to the community
We're a community-minded church discovering together what life can be like when lived from a place of faith, hope, love and purpose. We would love to have you join us for one of our Sunday services at either 8.00am or 10:00 am. Learn more
Message from the Vicar - Love of Creation
As summer approaches most of us naturally turn our attention to nature and the enjoyment of spending time out of doors. While some people don’t think of spending time in nature as part of their religious experience, for me time enjoying God’s creation is an important aspect of my life as a Christian. The Bible affirms the goodness and intrinsic value of all living things; it points out commonalities between human beings and other living things; and it contains the mandate that we treat the natural world with care and respect. In various ways the Bible affirms that God cares for all of creation, both human and non-human. It’s true we won’t explicitly find our modern concerns over human degradation of the earth in the bible - global warming, the loss of biological diversity, the plight of animals in our factory farm system and so on. For one thing, these were not much of an issue at the time the Bible was written. Nevertheless, there’s much in the Bible that has implications for the current environmental problems and that supports a Christian commitment to care for God's creation. God loves us and gave us great gifts - but that doesn't mean that God loves ONLY us. Indeed I would argue that the overarching biblical value of love of other, love of neighbour, includes not only our human neighbour but all of creation.
It’s also part of our faith as Christians to affirm that we aren’t separate from the earth - we’re part of the created order. We have an incarnational faith. We come from the earth. Our baptism is of earthwater. Eucharist is of earthbread and wine. In death we return to the earth from which we were formed. As Christians we affirm that in Jesus, God became incarnate - became a part of creation. Science is beginning to affirm our connectedness to other life too. As scientists study genetics we are finding that we share a large proportion of our DNA with other creaturesover 80% with earthworms, 98% with our closest relatives the chimpanzees. When we take this scientific message seriously and let it sink in, it deeply affects our image of ourselves. We often like to think of our relation to the rest of nature in terms of nature as a house in which we are tenants. But the rest of nature is not so much our house as our sibling.
So what does that mean for us? The first thing that we are called to is simply awareness of the impact of our own actions on the world around us. Just as God calls each of us to awareness of the impact of our actions and words on other people so that we treat other humans with love, and we are to judge our actions by God's standard of love of neighbour, so also God calls us to awareness of the impact of our actions on non-human creation and to judge our actions in the light of God's love of creation. When we truly love all of creation and acknowledge it as a sibling in God’s family then change in our practices will follow. So I encourage you to contemplate how you can live out this truth of our connectedness with all creation, and God’s love for that creation. What can you do which will nurture your relationship with the natural world? How can you nurture love for all of the earth in your heart and soul? After all, if God loves all creation - then shouldn’t you love it too?
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