With two thirds of its surface covered by water, Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour life. Viewed from space, it is like a glowing blue pearl that astonishes astronauts with its beauty and obvious life. Earth is located in a galaxy of stars called the Milky Way which is 890 billion times the mass of the Sun. The Sun’s diameter is 864,400 miles which is 109 times that of Earth. The Sun weighs 333,000 times as much as Earth and is so large that 1,300,000 planet Earths could fit inside it. Betelgeuse, a red giant star, is 700 times bigger than the Sun and 14,000 times brighter. Astronomers estimate there are 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also! This fragile planet fills us with wonder makes us ponder the biggest questions.
- ‘Once you've been in space, you appreciate how small and fragile the Earth is’ – Valentina Tereshkova
- ‘What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the moon but that they set eye on the earth’ – Norman Cousins
- ‘Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering’ – Arthur C Clarke
- ‘The lunar flights give you a correct perception of our existence. You look back at Earth from the moon, and you can put your thumb up to the window and hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything you've ever known is behind your thumb, and that blue-and-white ball is orbiting a rather normal star, tucked away on the outer edge of a galaxy’ – Jim Lovell
If we want to know what happened in the beginning, Genesis is the book to read. God sees all he has made and declares it to be ‘very good’. Broad detail is given of how first life began on earth– light and dark, land and sky, plants and people. Genesis informs us that God who made people in his image ‘also made the stars’ as part of the ‘vast array’. Fragile yet strong – this beautiful living planet is peopled by those entrusted to be good stewards of it. Something, somehow, somewhere seems to have gone wrong – this planet looks increasingly fragile as resolve and strength for good stewardship has failed. Renewed strength is needed.
- ‘We were created to take care of, steward the land. That is mankind's purpose on earth, to steward and take care of the land as it feeds off of it’ – Wes Studi
- ‘We should conceive of ourselves not as rulers of Earth, but as highly powerful, conscious stewards: The Earth is given to us in trust, and we can screw it up or make it work well and sustainably’ – Kim Stanley Robinson
- ‘Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm’ – Abraham Lincoln
- ‘Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it’ – Winston Churchill
- ‘Where there is no struggle, there is no strength’ – Oprah Winfrey
What would you say is the strongest known material? You might suggest diamonds or graphene but the strongest material in the universe is thought to be ‘nuclear pasta’ which is found in the crust of neutron stars. This material is super-dense and said to be 10 billion times harder to break than steel. Ten grams of spider silk is five times as strong as the same weight of steel - a strand long enough to circle the Earth would weigh less than 500 grams! Whilst a butterfly would not be top of the list, its fragile strength is such that it can cope with rain, navigating through winds and yet the touch of a finger can damage its wing beyond repair. Whilst creation itself groans for lack of loving care, thankfully there are some who struggle to be good stewards against the prevailing winds of selfish consumption.
- ‘The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden as its gardener, to tend and care for it’ – Genesis 2:15
- ‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms’ – 1 Peter 4:10
- ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others’ – Philippian 2:3-4
Where does stewardship start if not with ourselves? It begins with our personal moral choices – how we keep OUR home, OUR garden and OUR relationships. This spills out into the neighbourhood, the locality, the wider community, nations and the world. How? It is as one person at a time, motivated by love for God and for others, cares for his or her patch and bothers enough to help those others with theirs.
- ‘Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away’ – Song of Songs 8:6-7
- ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth – Matthew 5:5
- ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ – Luke 6:37-38
- ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea’ – Revelation 21:1
This beautiful planet Earth is an entrustment but, in the vastness of space, it is a fragile jewel to be cared for. We will all be held accountable for our stewarding of the goodness and generosity of God.
If you want to think through more of this, here’s a link to a 5 minute video C4L produced entitled ’This Fragile Planet’: https://connect4life.org.uk/c4l-videos-4-life
TAGS – sustainability, created, ecology, environment, global, climate