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Rejoice, Lament, Worship

A Reflection for Earth Day 2024  

I cannot faithfully write a series of reflections on creation care and discipleship without reflecting on our Creator. And I cannot truthfully write these reflections in the spring without writing about and celebrating Earth Day which falls on April 22, 2024. Blessedly, I can do both without confliction or contradiction in my heart. 

For many, Earth Day is a day to show that people are thinking about the earth or environment, or that they care about the current conditions of our planet, or even to express frustration or rage at the lack of care shown by others. I’ve seen social media posts that shame some for not living more sustainably, and I’ve seen some posts that encourage and challenge others to take up more sustainable practices. I’ve also seen some posts that border on or cross the line into pantheism and idolatry, thanking and praising ‘mother earth’ for everything she gives us and apologizing to the earth for the destruction we’ve caused. What I rarely see, especially from the Church (my context/experience speaks mainly from the American Protestant Evangelical Church) is glory to our God as the Maker of heaven and earth and the Owner of all creation, and acknowledgement of our responsibility to Him as our Maker. 

I love Earth Day. At the very least, it’s an intentional day to breathe fresh air, observe and appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world around us, and maybe even evaluate our choices and lifestyle with environmental care in mind. But more importantly than appreciation of beauty or a day for evaluation, Earth Day has become a day of rejoicing, lament, and worship all in one. 

Earth Day reminds me to REJOICE in the day the LORD has made (Psalm 118:24). This day, every day, is His because He made and is over and in all things. “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” (Psalm 24:1-2). No matter what the day brings for each of us or what the world around us looks like on a given day, it is all His and it is in His hands. I rejoice in the beauty and intelligence of our Creator, whose reflection shines in every living thing. Did you know that there are more species of insects on our planet than there are individual people? Can you even begin to imagine the creativity and intelligence required to create that many species of insects? I can’t fathom it. Rejoice in the LORD! Again, I’ll say, rejoice!

Earth Day is also a day of LAMENT because I cannot ignore the fact that there has been so much destruction and idolatry of the earth at human hands, and that we as fellow creatures and stewards of the creation have fallen short of our Genesis mandate to tend, care for, and steward it. The LORD our God made us His regents to the world and bestowed on us the responsibility to care for His creation. He is the Owner and Landlord of the world, and we are the inhabitants and tenants of this planet, charged with the ability and duty to care for it. There will be a day when we come before the LORD and give an account to Him of how we spent our days and used the gifts and resources He gave to us. I fully believe that this account will include how we acted in regard to the created order and to one another as creatures of the LORD. Job 28:28 tells us that the fear of the LORD is wisdom. We need the fear of the LORD to instruct and council us on how to live our lives in such a way that honors and glorifies the LORD, including how to be better rulers and stewards of the earth and how to care for the creation. In this, I lament the state of the world, the brokenness that has resulted in the loss of biodiversity, mass extinction of species, environments that are thrown wildly out of balance, the death of coral reefs, and the starvation of millions of people as a result of our hubris and arrogance in how we have used the resources of this world. Please join me in confessing to our role in the present state of the world: “Shepherd of Israel, God of hosts, we have turned away from you, neglecting the welfare of your people, trampling on the creatures and the plants you have made, taking from Earth what we cannot give back. We have not helped out neighbors in need, kept peace within our families, or tended the vine you have planted in our own lives. Forgive us and lead us to a more gracious life. In your compassion, turn us to your way. Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved. Amen”**

Finally, in rejoicing, lamenting and even confessing, Earth Day has become a day of WORSHIP because we cannot rightly observe and appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world without seeing and acknowledging the One who created it with such attention to detail, intelligence, intentionality, and beauty: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Nor can we confess and repent to our part in its destruction without believing in our heart of hearts that the LORD is good and faithful to forgive us and transform us to be fit stewards of creation for His Kingdom’s sake. Hallelujah! Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD God almighty who was and is and is to come!


Holy God, Creator of Heaven and Earth and everything in between, all authority, honor, glory, and power belong to you. In your hands you hold everything you have created and your breath flows through all, giving life to this world. Your Word says that “all creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time… when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things…When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the ground” (Psalm 104:27-30). Holy Spirit, come, breathe into us, restore us, restore the land, make us anew by your power and presence. May we never forget that you are the LORD, the Creator, the Author and Perfector of life. In you we live and move and have our being. We praise you for all your hands have made. Thank you for sharing it all with us. We love you, LORD. We are yours. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen and Amen!

Scripture for Reflection

Psalm 148

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
    and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for at his command they were created,
and he established them for ever and ever—
    he issued a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
    stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
    small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
    you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
    old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,
    the praise of all his faithful servants,
    of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the Lord.

Job 28: 20-28

“Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the sky. Destruction and Death say, ‘Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’ God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it. And he said to the human race, ‘the fear of the LORD – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’”

Job 38: 4-7

“’Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?’” (I recommend reading all of Job 38-42:6)

Songs for rejoicing, lamenting, and worship

  • “Declaring Glory (The Earth Sings its Refrain)” by The Porter’s Gate, album Climate Vigil Songs
  • “Where were you?” by The Porter’s Gate, album Climate Vigil Songs
  • One of my favorite classic hymns is “This is My Father’s World” because of the way it speaks of the LORD as our Creator and because I feel so connected to both the LORD and the earth as I listen to it. I have always thought, though, that it should be a bit more upbeat and exciting than it’s normally sung. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever come across one version of the song that sounds happy and excited. I’ve linked 2 versions here, a more traditional one and then a ‘happier’ one. Listen to whichever one connects you to the LORD more, or give both a try!

Kirsten, Inspire Missioner. ATS Mentored Ministry student

READ MORE of Kirsten’s reflections on Whole-Life Discipleship and Creation Care here.

Ref **: Kimberly Bracken Long, Feasting on the Word Worship Companion: Liturgies for Year A, Volume 1, Westminster John Knox Press.

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