by Claire Bramma, Seminary Student Intern
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
THE GOOD SHEPHERD & CARING FOR CREATION
As we recently celebrated Earth Day (April 22nd) and Good Shepherd Sunday (April 25th) I was prompted to reflect on the question, how does the model of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd show us how to be good stewards of the earth?
The Good Shepherd loves His flock, helps them live in safety, and guides the sheep where to go and how to live. Therefore, I propose that our relationship with Jesus helps us to:
- Experience who the Creator is;
- Embrace what it means to be human; and
- Emulate the shepherd as caretaker;
First of all, scriptures reveal to us that Jesus is intimately involved in the very act of creating. Through Him all things were made; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16). Jesus has a hand in all created things since He is the “first and the last” (Isaiah 44:6), “the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 22:13). Because of the Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit we can experience Jesus as Creator and Source of life. In such communion with Jesus, we can know what He loves and cares-for, and we can become connected to the creation around us that He has made.
Second, the creation story tells us that human beings are made from the soil and are given the land upon which to dwell; we are therefore earthlings and need the earth in order to survive. The Creator assigned us special responsibility to be caretakers of creation, to look after and till the soil, and to get to know the creatures of the earth (Genesis 1:26-30, 2:15-20). One way we might embrace this primordial command is by returning to our identity with Adam, which is the Hebrew name for man (אדם ‘adam) and a word play on אֲדָמָה (‘adamah) meaning “earth”. Might we embrace this physical and spiritual connection to the earth, and to all other creatures who dwell therein?
Third, as followers of Jesus we are part of His flock and we receive His life-giving care and guidance. We are also invited to emulate the nature of the Good Shepherd, which is a model for caring for one another and for creation. The image of Jesus as shepherd is found in many places in the Bible, as expressed by the Psalmists, the prophets, and throughout the New Testament. For example, an allegorical reading of Ezekiel 34 points to Jesus as the ideal shepherd who gathers, restores and redeems all of creation. This passage also invites human beings to participate with Christ in this act of shepherding, as agents of social justice and creation stewardship. In addition, John 10 reflects the intimate knowledge that Jesus has for His flock and His sacrificial service to them. It also encourages us to get to know His voice and to listen, inspiring us to become closer to Him and to emulate his example of caring for the flock, and by extension all of creation.
Lord Jesus, thank-you for being my Shepherd and drawing me closer to you, Your flock, and Your creation. Help me to recognize my connection to the soil and to all living creatures. Help me to recognize Your voice so that I can follow your lead in loving all that you’ve created. By your grace, may I be able to live out the faith of my baptism and strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the lift of the Earth. Amen