by Alex Welch
Good morning, it is so nice to see you all here.
A few weeks ago, Eli asked me, on Laurie?s behalf, to give the sermon on youth Sunday, I reluctantly said yes. I remember a few years ago, when Megan gave the sermon at youth Sunday. It was so beautiful and moving, I remember it to this day, I even remember the story in it. I remember thinking ?Wow, when I grow up, I want to be just like her. I want to give the sermon one day. I want to move people, the way she moved me.? But, when my turn finally came, it terrified me.
When I was asked to give the sermon, so many thoughts raced through my head like: What will I talk about? Do even I have time to write a sermon during finals week? How long does it have to be? and most terrifyingly, do I know enough of the bible to preach it to the congregation? It was too much, I was ready to politely decline.
Then one more thought popped into my head, ?This congregation has been nothing but supportive of me.? When I come here on Sunday, this room is always full of friendly, kind people with smiles on their faces. You have become my extended family, and I knew even if I gave an awful sermon, you would still say ?good job? and be proud of me. Most importantly, you would still accept and welcome me with open arms. How could I say no to them? It was decided, I would give the sermon on youth Sunday, even if it meant staying up all night Saturday to prepare it.
So I racked my brain for a few days, trying to figure out what I would write my sermon about. I had nothing, until one day in World Studies when we were talking about the beauty of Africa. I wanted to give the sermon about God?s magnificent creation.
When I look outside to see a day like today, it reminds me about how beautiful God?s creation really is. Now, many of you might be thinking, ?What on earth is this girl talking about? It cloudy and dreary, and it?s been raining on and off for the past few days!? But when I see rain, I think of all the life it brings. And when I see rain in the spring, I think of all the flowers that are going to bloom afterward, and the rainbow I might see. Rain makes me think of the beauty God?s creation still has to offer, the beauty that is still to be?born.
I would like to begin with the first verse in the bible, ?In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth.? Genesis 1: verse 1. God created the sun that warms us, the water that quenches our thirst, and the land that?sustains us. He created the rivers, lakes and streams, the plants, flowers and?trees, the soil, and grass, the rocks at our feet, and the air around us, the birds in the air, the creatures in the sea, and the creatures on the land. God created a perfect ecosystem to sustain life in his image. Then, he created us. That last part was a joke, in case you didn?t get it.
?But have you ever wondered why he created us, or allowed us to evolve, whichever you believe, to a higher intellect than the other animals? Why are we on the top of the food chain? I know I have.
When I think about God?s creation, I am reminded of Noah?s Ark. I am reminded that God told Noah that he had to build an ark to save every land animal. He didn?t tell him to save only the humans, or only the animals that provide us with food. And he definitely didn?t tell Noah to make a few judgment calls, and only save the animals that he wanted to save. No. God told Noah to save two of EVERY animal.
There is one part in the story of Noah?s Ark that always resonated with me. When Noah is loading the animals into the ark, he turned to God and said, “You want me to save the gnats? Of what possible value could they be?” And God replied “Yes Noah, save the gnats. They hold many secrets you may never know.”
And it is in this story that I find my answer. We were made the dominate species to do the will of God, specifically to be the protectors of Earth. Even if we don?t understand why. We must be the ones to keep all the creatures on Earth safe, we must protect the birds in the air, the creatures in the sea, and the creatures on the land. However, we must also protect the Earth itself. We must protect the rivers, lakes and streams, the plants,?flowers and trees, the soil, and grass, the rocks at our feet, and the air around us.
When I look around the world today, when I?m sitting in World Studies learning about the reduction in Lake Chad, or the pollution of Africa?s water sources for both humans and animals, I wonder what God thinks.
I wonder what God thinks when He sees us polluting the very air we breathe with fumes. I wonder what He thinks when he sees us destroy the home of many animals to put up a condominium complex. I wonder what He?thinks when he sees us throw our garbage on his creation. I wonder what he thinks when he sees us value money and greed over the health and safety of the Earth.
We are supposed to do God?s will, but surely this is not it. So, what are we supposed to do? How do we carry out God?s will to protect his creation? As I was writing this sermon I did some research, and I found a great word: stewardship. Christian Stewardship is defined as grateful and responsible use of God’s gifts in the light of God’s purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ. Christian stewards, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves to conscious, purposeful decisions. I just love that ? conscious, purposeful decisions.
To do the will of God we must be aware of our actions, and we must think about them. Before throwing your empty soda can on the ground, think. Be aware of its negative impact on the environment. Take the extra time to find a garbage can. This is a pretty good standard to live by. Before doing anything, be conscious of what it is that you?re doing, and think about the possible consequences. Doesn?t sound too hard, right?
Is that all we have to do to protect our home, Earth? Well, no. But it is a start. We have to go beyond that though. We have to value humanity and environmental welfare, not money or objects. We have to remember that it was God who created the Earth, it is not ours to own or alter, but his. To do God?s will is to be his stewards and keep the Earth and its inhabitants clean and safe. We must be the ones who lead the animals into the ark, not the?ones who throw them overboard.
The environment and animals may seem unimportant in your busy lives. I know I often feel that way, I get lazy and don?t care for it the way I should, and I?m sure many of you do as well. Many small animals, like bugs, get overlooked and considered insignificant. But like in the story, even gnats have many things to offer that we do not understand. God has a higher plan, a plan we can?t see. So we must follow our faith and do the Lord?s will, and one day we may understand more.