link to lyrics, sheet music, and audio files

written by Constance Morgenstern

Feel free to make copies for a study group.
For additional uses, please contact us.

WordSown logo
Study for

"Lord God, in Charge of Time and Space"


There are a whole lot of reasons we need to care for the Earth. In this study, we will especially focus on reasons from faith—BUT anyone who breathes air can see our need, as humans, to care for our shared home.

Already in China and India, for example, air pollution is a recognized contributor to early death. (Do you recall the air quality issues when Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympics?) That China is a leader in solar cells is not surprising as it tries to reduce pollution from fossil fuel. Self-preservation is a good, motivating reason!

An article from the medical journal Lancet produced some sobering statistics.* Around the world, the proportion of city dwellers who experience poor air quality is about 90%! Overall, 16% of early deaths are related to pollution of air, water, or land! Even if you don’t personally experience those kinds of threats in your area, care of the Earth will only become more crucial as we live out our Christian faith in the world.

Jesus once was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” (The Jewish faith had hundreds of commandments, not just our famous “Ten.”) Jesus simplified the many rules rather brilliantly: “Love God,” He said, “and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31). We can consider the many reasons to care for Earth using that same framework. Let's begin with God.

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells how God created the Earth (Genesis 1:1-31). This amazing Earth—which God called, “Good”— provides for our lives and the lives of all creatures (Psalm 104:24-30). Along with the heavens--and this part I love!--it speaks of His glory (Psalm 19:1-5, Romans 1:20).

Can you picture a beautiful place that you’ve been? Then you, too, may join the psalmist David as he exclaims how all God made will praise Him (Psalm 145:10). (I know this sense of Creation's beauty drawing us toward God: I remember being a teenager at Bible camp when there was a vibrant sunset gleaming over the camp's gorgeous lake. I was sure that a fabulous God had made it, and I wanted Him to be with me. Of course, I have been in wonder at God's work many times since, but you get the idea....) This blessed earth provides many reasons for praise!

Genesis also says how God gave the earth to humankind to use and take care of (Genesis 2:15). However, this giving doesn't include abusing resources to enrich ourselves. Some of the many instructions given to the Jewish people, even in Old Testament times, specifically show this. For example, there was a command to rest the land every 7th year. The fruits it would still casually produce during that year were to be left for the poor to gather or for animals (Exodus 23:10-11). Plus, the soil would have a chance to rebuild itself for better yields the next year. (Some farmers in the world still practice this.)

Other admonitions you'll see in the song are actually about loaning money! Were you surprised to see that? One admonition (Exodus 22:26-27) says that if you held a person’s cloak as collateral for a loan, you should give it back at nightfall because it was the person's covering for sleep. Another (Deuteronomy 24:6) says that you shouldn't take millstones as collateral, not even one, because that would be taking someone's means of making a living. Those rules express how making money is no reason to take what someone else needs. There is a pattern in them. So, if clean air, water, and land are what all people need, can a business venture justifiably take those away?

The Lancet article about pollution and health says that 15 times as many people have had their lives shortened by pollution as have died in wars or violence. Though it works more slowly, environmental abuse is a violence toward other people--“neighbors,” whom Jesus told us to love. When Jesus was asked to clarify who, exactly, a “neighbor” was, He gave the story of the Good Samaritan, which suggests that the definition crosses national boundaries (Luke 10:25-37). I doubt that the “not in my backyard” approach to pollution would pass muster with our Lord.

It is a sad truth that pollution—along with abuses of water and land—is too often another aspect of injustice. According to the Lancet article, poor and middle-income countries account for 92% of the early deaths attributed to pollution. Across the board, "disease caused by pollution is most prevalent among minorities and the marginalized.” Medically, it’s children—born and unborn—who can be inordinately affected by pollution, causing lifelong consequences.

In Jesus’ famous Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), we are indeed judged by how we treat “the least of these.”

Jesus also, however, gave us an amazing model for loving everybody. If He were here today, He would would work for the salvation of even the CEO of the worst polluting corporation ever! We can say this because of His interaction with Zacchaeus—who also sold out people around him for the sake of his own wealth (Luke 19:1-10).

Yet, Jesus did not come to recreate Eden on earth. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” He said, “but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) He also said His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). As Jesus’ followers, we are called to help draw people, from all over the world, to His Kingdom (Matthew 28:18-20). And here's the thing: a big part of what gets people’s attention is demonstrating love for others (Matthew 5:46-48, John 13:34-35, Acts 2:42-47).

The Earth, in its magnificence, beauty, diversity, and provision is a witness to our God. That we care for it, too, is a witness. It not only reflects our respect for God, but works—like so many of God’s instructions—to our own benefit. God said, while giving His Old Testament rules, that they would result in prosperity (Deuteronomy 30:15-16). We do care about our own health and preservation.

As we live day-to-day, however, Jesus challenges us to care about others’ health and preservation as much as our own.


*“The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health,” Phillip J. Landrigan et al., Lancet 2018 391:462-512, published online October 19, 2017.

About Song Suggestions by Lectionary Song Suggestions by Scripture Song/Studies