The earth as holy ground: Reconciliation of human and nature

By Lalmuanpuii Hmar

Opening Prayer

Creator of all things, your glory shines forth through your creation. We praise you and celebrate your awe-inspiring work in creation that we can see all around us. Reveal more of yourself to us as we worship you. Show us the way to reconcile ourselves with nature so that our lives will reflect your loving care and concern for your creation. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.

Scripture Readings: Psalm 24:1; Acts 4:32

Intercessory Prayer

God of all creation, as we work towards climate justice and care for creation, we pray for your guidance on how to best serve and preserve creation. Please help us to see our world as a common habitat, a gift to be cherished, and not to dominate and exploit the natural resources. Lord, in your mercy,

Receive our prayer.

We lament the uncountable losses of individuals, families, and communities and humbly come to you in prayer for all who are affected by climate change and ecological crisis. Lord, in your mercy,

Receive our prayer.

We pray for those who question the status quo to bring about structural change in order to protect vulnerable people and nations from the harshest effects of the climate crisis. Lord, in your mercy,

Receive our prayer.

We pray for international cooperation in mitigating and finding solutions to the climate crisis. Increase our understanding of how our actions, good and bad, affect all of us and give us the wisdom to have more room for imagination, creativity, and innovation. Lord, in your mercy,

Receive our prayer.

Help us to discern the best way forward to utilize the blessings of the earth wisely and creatively, and to choose love and justice instead of power and wealth. Lord, in your mercy,

Receive our prayer. Amen.


Our selected Old Testament text, Psalm 24, is a liturgy that was used by pilgrims when they came for a religious festival at the Jerusalem Temple. The psalm begins with a hymn of praise to Yahweh as Creator and Lord of the universe. The verse, “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psalm 24:1) attests that God is the creator of the earth, and all things and beings on it belong to God. It identifies the “Owner” of the world and is a confessional declaration of the sovereignty of the creator God, justifying that Yahweh has complete dominion over the world.

Our other selected text from the New Testament, Acts 4:32, interestingly tells us that the early believers were of one heart and soul. Being filled with the same Spirit, no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. This means that all their possessions were at the disposal of anyone in need, a perfect display of particular concern for the poor and needy. Verse 34 of the same chapter further mentions that there was not a needy person among them. In Israel’s culture, the declaration that the LORD is the owner of all things is an intentional denial that anyone else is. In today’s world, this could mean the denial of the tendency of the state or corporations to absolutize ownership of the world.

There are some who, unfortunately and thoughtlessly, posit that humans are the most important creation and, therefore, meeting the needs of humans is more important than addressing environmental issues. It has been estimated that humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants. The constant imposition of our will on everything around us causes grave damage to ourselves and the environment. The result of not caring for our environment negatively and directly impacts humans. We put our home and ourselves at serious risk.

The fact that we are made in God’s image should make us responsible to reflect God’s nature of caring for the world God created. The Old Testament gave importance to the observance of the sabbath (Leviticus 25:1-7) for the land as well as for the people to let the land lie fallow and not overwork on it. Likewise, we need to ensure that we do not over-exploit the land and Earth’s resources through our greed and lifestyle. This year, the observance of World Environment Day on 5 June will focus on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience. Up to 40% of the Earth’s land is said to be degraded, directly affecting half of the world’s population and threatening roughly half of global GDP (US$44 trillion). The number and duration of droughts have also increased, and without urgent action, over three-quarters of the world’s population has been estimated to be affected by 2050. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration ardently calls for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world.

Just as Jesus’ mission is to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, to let the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18), so too does God’s plan involve the healing and restoration of the earth. As stewards of God’s creation, we must care for and restore creation. For example, buying locally and working for trade justice is an important part of caring for the Earth so that no one is forced to drain the resources of our environment. As God’s community, if one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. We must show special concern for the vulnerable so that no one remains needy.

In the creation account, God has given humans the responsibility to take care of creation (Genesis 2:15). This makes us accountable to God to sustain, protect, and care for creation. We must manage the environment not simply for our benefit but for God’s glory. A good initiative would be hosting an Environment Sunday service, devising or joining the Eco Church scheme, getting involved with the projects, and bringing our local communities closer to flourishing. In this way, we all must strive towards more significant action to reconcile with nature and raise our voices for a cleaner, greener, fairer future.

May we continue to participate in God’s work of reconciling and restoring proper relationship with the creation.

Closing prayer

Great Creator, with your presence and guidance, may we continue to respect and be in loving relations with all creation and follow in the way of love, justice, and peace for all, and may we reflect your loving nature of care and concern for creation in all that we do so that we will commit to creating a sustainable environment and working towards a better future for all. In the name of Christ. Amen.

Dr. Lalmuanpuii Hmar, Presbyterian Church of India, Mizoram Synod: She presently teaches New Testament at Bishop’s College, Kolkata, India.

This is the fifth in a series of Lenten devotionals focused on the climate crisis. Download the devotional booklet.

Image: Albin Hilert/Life on Earth

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