Save the planet’, ‘care for creation’, ‘love the environment’ are some of the slogans we hear as the voice of concern gets louder for our beautiful, yet plundered and polluted planet.
Behind these concerns for our ecology there is a deeper question; is there a purpose, a plan or indeed a mind behind the solar system? Are we just the result of freak accidents of cosmic collisions or is there more?
The Scriptures give us some wonderful clues towards understanding the mystery of the universe. The Bible describes creation as architectural. God says to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth… and marked out its dimensions” (Job 38:4-6). This speaks of the creative work of a builder or architect thoughtfully considering how to best construct a habitat, a home for humans and for God.
Moreover, the Psalms speak of a moral foundation that undergirds the universe, “righteousness and justice” (Psalm 33). So our world is not meaningless and amoral, but the design of a loving and purposeful God. Jewish scholar, Moshe Weinfeld says, “this (Psalm) refers to the imposition of equality, order and harmony upon the cosmos and the elimination of forces of destruction and chaos”.
Put simply, God brought order out of chaos, as a builder takes a pile of raw materials and rightly relates them to each other to form a house, our place, the blue planet.
There is a second image that I find equally intriguing, it is the weaving of a garment. Just as God turned a chaos into a cosmos, so God turned a tangle into a tapestry. The sea, the clouds, the light and all the forces of nature are called garments that God has woven and wears (Psalm 102: 26). So the world is not the result of merely random eruptions, but rather more like a fabric, the work of a skilled weaver.
Both the images of a house and a garment remind us of relationship. Simply throwing threads on a table does not produce a fabric any more than a heap of bricks becomes a house. There is a personal intentionality about every house and every garment. God has put it all together in a beautiful, harmonious, interdependent and knitted universe, with everything in place for human community to flourish.
This interwoven masterpiece the Bible calls ‘shalom’ (multidimensional peace). This is God’s plan for the whole cosmos, the peace and reconciliation of our spiritual, social, emotional and physical world. Only this kind of God-inspired vision can truly save the Earth.
Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA
Top image: Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, pictured at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA with Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho.