The Earth is the Lord's

October 21, 2012

Excerpt from Psalm 104

"O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; The earth is full of thy creatures."

Reflection by Talitha Arnold

Shortly before the 2004 presidential election, former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall spoke at the church I serve. Called the founder of the environmental movement, Secretary Udall authored the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Wilderness Protection Act, and other environmental legislation during the Kennedy and Johnson administration. More than anyone since Theodore Roosevelt, he changed our country's attitudes about caring for creation.

Given his background, we thought he would focus on political issues. Secretary Udall surprised us all. He didn't begin with politics, but talked instead about growing up as a young Mormon boy on a farm in northern Arizona in the early 1900's. He remembered that on every wall of the kitchen, the parlor, and even the bedrooms were framed "samplers," Bible passages embroidered by his mother and sisters. "O Lord, how manifold are thy works," proclaimed one that quoted Psalm 104. "The Earth is the Lord's" affirmed another.

Udall said those Bible "samplers" reminded him who was God of heaven and earth. They gave him the passion and commitment he'd had for sixty years to care for God's creation and to get this country to care as well.

For Stewart Udall, there was a direct link between the Word of God on the walls of his childhood home and his work for the environment.

When you enjoy a national park, raft a wild river or explore the wilderness, keep in mind Secretary Udall - and the Word that shaped him. If we ever doubt the importance of knowing the Bible, remember his legacy of caring for God's creation that came from those Bible samplers that surrounded him.

Prayer

Remind us, O Lord, of the power of your word to shape us and the work you call us to do.

About the Author
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Worship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press.

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