What Does it Mean to be a Creature of God?

What Does it Mean to be a Creature of God?
IMG_2213Well, we survived Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia. And, while I have definite points of disagreement with the Pope on doctrine, I am thrilled by his serious and sustained attention to the issue of the environment and humanity’s destructive impact on this planet.

One definition of sin is that it is separation from God. And, given that definition, it seems to me that the greatest sin of Western Christianity for the past millennia or so has been to think and teach that humans are absolutely the greatest thing ever and the only thing of importance to God. That the earth was created solely to support us and we can do whatever we want with it, with no thought for any other creature. This has led us to view ourselves as somehow separate from the earth and to see earth’s nonhuman inhabitants as one big resource solely for our use—and we have lived into that view with gusto. And it is coming back to haunt us in a climate that is rapidly changing the face of life on this planet.

Each generation of Christians has a theological issue with which to wrestle. For us, and probably for generations to come, the great theological issue of our time is how we think about and are in relationship with Creation. If all of Creation, everything that is, is an expression of God’s own life and is beloved of God, then how are we to live in relationship with God’s other beloved? How are we to heal the wounds of the sin of separation from nonhuman expressions of God’s own Being?

During October and November, St. Peter’s will be focusing on our relationship with Creation and wrestling with these questions. We will contemplate what it means to be a creature of God, to be part of an intricate web of life and what the implications of that are for how we live individually and how we live in community. Our worship will focus on, will lift up, various aspects of the Created world. Our Faith Matters series will look at what Scripture has to say about Creation, at the Papal Encyclical, and at the poetry of Creation. We will be talking about how we, as a community, can live into a theology that holds all life sacred and recognizes the wildly disproportionate impact of humans on the planet. I invite you to participate as fully as you are able; to worship, sing, pray, learn, and contemplate God’s work in Creation and your place in it. Join us as we, to quote Job, “Ask the beasts…the birds of the heavens…the earth….the fish….and let them teach us.”

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The Rev. Claire Nevin-Field

The Rev. Claire Nevin-Field is the rector of St. Peter's Church.

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