This week we take a slight departure from our regular worship service. For the last few years we’ve set the first Sunday of October apart for a commemoration of Francis of Assisi – recognizing his profound influence on Christian spirituality, especially in the area of care for creation. We do this in worship with a focused emphasis in our readings and prayers on the creation and our need to care for it. We invite members and guests to bring their pets to be blessed. We give thanks for our baptism as a recognition that we are dependent on the world’s bodies of water, like we depended on the waters that held us in the womb, and that by water we are made dependent on each other as members of Christ’s body.
Dependency feels like the opposite of dominion. When we hear in the first chapter of Genesis that God created humanity in God’s image and blessed us, saying “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen 1:27-28) it can sound like we’ve been given free rein to use the natural world in whatever way we think might benefit us.
It turns out we’re not always such good stewards of the earth. No need to belabor that point, Al Gore has done it for us. Now we’re trying to catch up with creation’s needs before it’s too late for all of us. Practicing forms of dominion that look more like dependency and less like domination isn’t easy. It’s inconvenient and requires us to change our ways. We slip up. We backslide. Thank God we can return each week to the source of our common life, gather around a small font of water, sprinkle God’s blessings on each other, and renew our commitment to care for all of God’s creations – land, earth and sea; all creatures great and small; you and me.