Feasting on God’s Gifts; Fasting in Sorrow
A Lenten Devotional by Presbyterians for Earth Care 2012
And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth."
Creator God, you make all things
Ellen F. Davis of Duke Divinity School has asserted that "eating is practical theology, or it should be: daily it gives us the opportunity to honor God with our bodies." I had the pleasure of hearing Davis at the 2009 Presbyterians for Earth Care conference at Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina when she presented a talk entitled, Being a Creature Means You Eat: Reading Genesis One in the 21st Century. She said that Genesis 1 is not only a theological statement about food; it is also an ecological one. Eating is practical ecology as well as practical theology -- indeed, the "most important ecological act we perform."
Davis was also an advisory board member and a contributor to The Green Bible, the green-letter edition of the New Revised Standard Version. An author of eight books, including An Agrarian Reading of the Bible, Davis says that every day, "taking our sustenance from the earth and from the bodies of other animals, we enter deeply into the mystery of creation. Our never-failing hunger is a steady reminder to acknowledge God as the Giver of every good gift."
Her message that getting food from field to table is the most important religious act we perform was one that really resonated with me. My husband Rick and I have been making a concerted effort to reduce the carbon footprint of this most religious act: we are eating much lower on the food chain; we choose not to use bottled water; we purchase from local growers; and we compost our table scraps.
The six-week Northwest Earth Institute discussion course Menu for the Future that we took in 2009 had a major impact on us, as it did a number of our classmates -- so much so that the Hungry Scholars group that we subsequently formed has continued to meet monthly for almost three years around the topic of ethical and sustainable eating.
Heavenly Father, Creator and Sustainer of Life, please help us to remember that with each meal, we enter deeply into the mystery of creation. Remind us too what it means to be a creature charged with exercising dominion -- that as you keep and sustain us, we must keep and sustain your creation. May we be joyfully aware each day, that as we consume the energy that keeps us alive for a time, we are eating until we ourselves become part of the fertile soil that yields more food for your creatures.
Ann Owen serves as the Southwest Regional Representative for Presbyterians for Earth Care. She is active at Second Presbyterian Church of Little Rock, one of the first churches to obtain the PC (USA) Earth Care Congregation certification. She founded the Environmental Stewardship group at Second and chaired it for three years. Ann is also active in environmental issues in her community, serving for three years on the Little Rock Sustainability Commission.