Grateful Living: the Joy of Stewardship – How Do You Steward Creation?

We have been living stewardship for a long time in the Diocese of Jefferson City. In the past five years or so, Bishop McKnight and the stewardship office invited us to take stewardship to the next level as a diocese. In session 9, we look at stewardship through the lens of God’s creation. When we recycle, reuse, or do anything that is caring for the environment we are living as a steward. For some, that is not new. It is as old as the livelihood of farming. Today, we simply examine our ways in which we cultivate and care for God’s creation. Adam and Eve were given the responsibility of having dominion over all God had created; as are we. To have dominion means to protect, cultivate, and sustain creation and is always about life and wholeness. It is about the right relationship and responsibility.

So, in practice, I look at landscaping my yard including mowing the lawn. That I have a yard with a lawn to mow and flower gardens to tend to, is all a gift from God. Many are without proper shelter and so in gratitude for this gift of land, I donate to Open Door and to other agencies that care for those without shelter, always keeping the dignity of the human person first. And, I use my gift of time to tend to my yard. I am a good steward when I care for my lawnmower, weed whip, tree trimmer, pruning shears, and all the other tools I use. I do not just take good care of the tools so that I don’t have to spend money on them later but because the longer I use these, the less waste I have in purchasing to replace. While I am using the tools to mow and take care of the landscaping, it is an excellent time to reflect on the beauty God creates and my talents that are used to work within his creation: he gave me the ability to arrange these flower beds, vegetable garden, trees, bushes and weave these through the grass. It looks amazing and it makes me enjoy being outside with God. This meditation on how beautiful it all is together helps me use my gift of time in the outdoors to enter into prayer. While in prayer, I may give praise and honor to God for all the beauty that is in this world. This may happen as I end my work day outside and look up to the artwork of God creating yet another sunset. I am caught up in prayer and reflection on how he creates beauty that I am even excited about the sunrise he will make for me in the morning. In prayer, I speak to him about some of the beautiful places I have been able to see in my travels around Missouri: Lake of the Ozarks, Bennet Springs, and the rolling Ozark Mountains to name a few. Or my travels to the national parks around the US: The Grand Canyon, The Tetons, The Redwood Forest, or the Blue Ridge Parkway. I reflect on the beauty of the beaches that line the oceans; overlooking the Mississippi River, traveling down the Osage River; being in the wild desert of the west or looking across the grain fields of the Midwest just before harvest. I realize the country in which I live is filled with God’s beauty. And, I ask God how He wants me to care for this beauty, care for this great nation and how to care for his greatest of creations; my fellow human beings, created in his image and likeness.

To see beauty in the land God has created is, in itself, stewardship. Remembering it all points to his love for us and that we are to have that same love toward each other is a beautiful challenge. So, today, enjoy the outdoors; enjoy the beauty of God’s creation noticing it is all a gift from him to us. How will we live out our gratitude?