Loving Stewards of God’s World
Adapted from Exploring Community of Christ Basic Beliefs: A Commentary
(Adapted from Exploring Community of Christ Basic Beliefs: A Commentary edited by Anthony J. Chvala-Smith, pp. 61-62. A Kindle version is available at www.HeraldHouse.org.)
These are portentous times. The lives of many are being sacrificed unnecessarily to the gods of war, greed, and avarice. The land is being desecrated by the thoughtless waste of vital resources. You must obey my commandments and be in the forefront of those who would mediate this needless destruction while there is yet day. -Doctrine and Covenants 150:7
The work and ministry of justice and peacemaking for all creation is not new to Community of Christ. We have received divine counsel that reminds us to become peacemakers and loving stewards of God’s world. The church’s early experiences and teachings reflect an inseparability of the spirit and body that is consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The fullness of God’s love, healing, peace, and joy are known through the inseparable connection of spirit and element (Doctrine and Covenants 90:5e, Genesis 2:7, Psalms 104:29, Job 34:14\xe2\x88\x9215).
In 1972, the following direction came to the church: “These are portentous times. The lives of many are being sacrificed unnecessarily to the gods of war, greed, and avarice. The land is being desecrated by the thoughtless waste of vital resources. You must obey my commandments and be in the forefront of those who would mediate this needless destruction while there is yet day” (Doctrine and Covenants 150:7). Ten years later new counsel reminded us that “the time for hesitation is past. The earth, my creation, groans for the liberating truths of my gospel which have been given for the salvation of the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 155:7). The Spirit that is ever at work in creation is also the prophetic Spirit, calling God’s people to seek justice and wholeness for all things.
As a response, the church created the Community of Christ Peace and Justice Team. Its commission was to study the root causes of war, violence, poverty, environmental degradation, inequality, and destructive choices and lifestyles. In 1992, the church commissioned a new committee, the Community of Christ Earth Stewardship Team. This team explored how to advance the church’s work of protection of the environment through education and to encourage congregations and International Headquarters to model responsible environmental choices.
Two years later, the Independence Temple was dedicated to the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit. In 1999 the Community of Christ Peace Colloquy, using the theme “As the Sky Meets the Earth,” focused on how individuals, communities, and institutions could become more justice-oriented and proactive in the care of creation. In the current time, following Jesus, the peaceful One, has direct implications for how individuals, congregations, and the entire church must include care of creation in various ministries.
It is now urgent for the church individually and collectively to commit to practicing radical hospitality to our endangered ecosystem. Community of Christ’s traditions offer rich resources in our scriptures and practices for a deep ecological theology. However, the church has yet to embody the call to live out an uncompromising ethic of stewardship based on God’s love for all creation. Divine counsel to the church at the turn of the millennium again reminded us of the exigency for disciples to be in the forefront of justice and peacemaking for all life and ecological processes:
Generously share the invitation, ministries, and sacraments through which people can encounter the Living Christ who heals and reconciles through redemptive relationships in sacred community. The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith…. The earth, lovingly created as an environment for life to flourish, shudders in distress because creation’s natural and living systems are becoming exhausted from carrying the burden of human greed and conflict. Humankind must awaken from its illusion of independence and unrestrained consumption without lasting consequences.
Let the educational and community development endeavors of the church equip people of all ages to carry the ethics of Christ’s peace into all arenas of life. Prepare new generations of disciples to bring fresh vision to bear on the perplexing problems of poverty, disease, war, and environmental deterioration. Their contributions will be multiplied if their hearts are focused on God’s will for creation. -Doctrine and Covenants 163:2b, 4b-c
The Spirit that midwifed creation calls Community of Christ to rise to the challenge of Earth’s travail.
“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).
During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.