As we celebrate Christmas, we are wrapping up our reflections on “Joy to the World,” considering what Christ’s return will mean for all of creation. We hope you’ll join us.
by Kenny Benge
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love.
I’ve just recently finished Ling Ma’s debut novel, Severance. I’m drawn toward apocalyptic and dystopian science fiction, which made me take up Severance, but it is unique among the books I’ve read in the genre. It is a millennial coming of age story, set within post-apocalyptic adventures precipitated by a fungal epidemic that creates a passive, zombie-like mankind, all tied together with global consumerism. Yes, it is a great book! Severance wonderfully demonstrates how consumerist culture mediates much of life and how the lifestyles we lead now can have a great impact on our future, and not just in terms of what we buy.
In the face of the power of global consumerism, the deceptive and deep grip it has on us, and its dangerous disregard for the Earth as God’s own Creation, it is easy to become discouraged and cynical—are we and the Creation broken and flawed beyond repair?
But Scripture reminds us that God loves all that He has made—He cares for it, provides for it and sustains it.
Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.” Jeremiah 33:25-26
In this passage from Jeremiah, and others such as Psalm 104 and Matthew 6:25-30, God’s commitment and covenant to care for the whole Creation is revealed to remind and reinforce our understanding of His love and commitment to His people.
Before Christ rose from the dead, one might be able to answer that question honestly, Yes, it is flawed beyond repair. St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:32: If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” But Jesus has been raised. The resurrection means that sin and death have not been allowed to undo what God has created. The resurrection means that God in Christ has stood by His Creation, all that he made, mankind and all that is in it, and has not allowed it to be brought to nothing by evil, sin, and death.
The last stanza of Joy to the World describes the future consummation, the New Heavens and the New Earth. We are placed in a geography, within a domain or a sphere of influence. We are to exercise wise and loving care in the actual part of God’s creation that we live in. While we await that day, the hopeful, small, and varied creation-conserving and restoring acts of our lives are signs and foretastes of God’s intentions for the whole of Creation.
Give us all a respect for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.—Book of Common Prayer
Rev. Kenny Benge is an Anglican priest at Church of the Redeemer in Nashville. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University and a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is an avid birder and has a life list of 522 species in the lower 48 states.
Leave a Reply