Stewards of the Earth

Crown of the Anglican Cathedral in Cairo

Lovely summer weather, the like of which we haven’t seen for a year or two and initially the garden appreciated the long hours of sunshine and, once the cold winds had subsided, the warmth. As the dry spell continues, the lack of water is proving a bit of a challenge for some of the plants and there is no sign of rain in the five-day forecast, though I’m sure that when the weather does break, we may soon forget what a glorious early summer we’ve had. But of course its not only the garden that may struggle in the heat. Often older people find hot weather very difficult and in many parts of the country, the pollen count is also high, leading to an increase in the number of people suffering what is officially called “seasonal allergic rhinitis” or pollen allergy. For sufferers, weather like this can be very miserable indeed.

After the very wet winter, the availability of water is such that, as yet, there hasn’t been much talk of hosepipe bans. That’s no reason not to be careful in our use of water. Over a decade ago, I did some teaching in Upper Egypt and flew south from Cairo several times and was very aware that without the irrigation water that the Nile provided, there was simply no life.

Having spent quite a lot of time over the past few months helping to sort out and find suitable recipients of my parents possessions, I have become acutely aware of the waste of resources involved in sending things to skips and landfill. My sister and I have become very well acquainted with the whole range of charity shops in the area around the Cheshire/Shropshire border and St Finnbarr’s Charity Shop in Dornoch has also been a beneficiary. I’m sure that my parents would have been much happier that their possessions found new homes and uses than that they simply ending up in a big hole in the ground.

I am reviewing a book for a church newspaper at the moment called “Blue Planet, Blue God”, which looks at our relationship with our planet and its resources through the lens of the Bible and it is very interesting to see what the Bible does say about the wise use of the resources that God has provided for His people. Jesus uses parables to talk about these things. In these he refers to ‘stewards’. What is a steward? A steward is someone who manages the household or property that belongs to another. As God’s people that is the status that we have in relation to our planet and all that is in it. We are stewards because God is the owner of all things. In the 1982 Liturgy, the words at the Offertory include these words from 1 Chronicles:

Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory,
the splendour, and the majesty; for everything in
heaven and on earth is yours.
All things come from you, and of your own we give you.

As we manage the things that we think of as ours, including the water that comes out of our taps, the challenge for us as stewards is to be prepared to give account to our Master, who will come and assess how we have stewarded what He has given us in trust. Some of Jesus’ parables give stark warning of the consequences of being poor stewards.

Blessings
James

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