“Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
When was the last time you felt you were standing on holy ground? Perhaps it was in your garden, feet planted alongside Kale and Squash. Maybe it was at the beach for summer vacation, feet sinking into the sand as the water washes over them. Wherever it was, go there right now in your mind’s eye and try to feel what you felt in that moment. Feel the presence of God in that thin place where heaven and earth nearly touch.
The lands and waters of this world are sacred places. We know it when we rest in them and we know it from our sacred texts. As Christians, to see the world as creation is to see the world as sacred.
We read in Genesis 1 that when God created the world, it was called good. This inherent goodness declared by God means that the lands and waters that were created on the third day are sacred in themselves, even before the creation of other creatures and humanity. This is affirmed in the stories of the prophets who time after time decry exploitation and injustice that destroys the land. In Jeremiah 4, the prophet looks out across the desolation of the land and cries “my anguish!” in response to death and destruction wrought by those who “are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good” (Jeremiah 4:19, 22). The fullness of sacred lands and waters is filled through Jesus Christ, who came to save and redeem not only humanity, but the entire cosmos (John 3:16).
The world reverberates with the love of God and the light of Christ. The lands and waters of this creation are imbued with sanctity through their creation, protection, and sustenance.
Theologically, we know the world is sacred. But what does it mean practically to say the world is sacred?
To say the world is sacred is to recognize that the lands and waters of the world are valued on their own accord, not merely because of what can be extracted, produced, or experienced on them. They are sacred because they are created by the love of God and perpetually sustained by Christ (Colossians 1:17).
To say the world is sacred is also to recognize that we have obligations toward it. In his recent book This Sacred Life, Norman Wirzba writes that being accountable to the sanctity of the world is central to our collective call: “The fundamental task of our humanity, we might say, resides in witnessing the sacred life that pulses through every place and everyone, and in that creative witness committing to the liberation, nurture, and celebration of each other” (This Sacred Life, 140).
Indeed, witnessing the sacred and rejoicing in it is important, but it is not the end of our work. We are to respond to the invitation of the sacred by committing to the liberation, nurture, and celebration not only of our fellow humans, but of all the creatures, lands, and waters that constitute God’s creation. The work of protecting the lands and waters of this world is a sacred task.
An important initiative in this work of land and water protection is “30x30,” the goal to protect 30% of lands and waters in the world by the year 2030. This global initiative promotes biodiversity, climate resilience, equity, and a healthy relationship to God's creation. Rooted in current science, this initiative aims to protect habitats and create sanctuaries where life may thrive amidst climate and environmental threats. As a country, the United States has committed itself to the 30x30 goal and several states have followed suit. To learn more about 30x30 and how to advocate for land and water protection, visit creationjustice.org/what-is-30-x-30.
This year for the Season of Creation, Creation Justice Ministries is exploring the theme “Sacred Lands, Sacred Waters.” Throughout the month we’ll be featuring perspectives from theologians, activists, and spiritual leaders.
We are grateful to be celebrating the Season of Creation with you, and we wish you the blessings of wonder, conviction, and action as we go about this month.
By Karyn Bigelow and Avery Davis Lamb, Co-Executive Directors
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About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.