Hymns & Songs

Let’s be good stewards of God’s earth

Sep 2010    

This Is My Father’s World

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
Th is is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

By Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901)

ACCORDING TO THE CYBERHYMNAL WEBSITE, American Presbyterian minister Babcock was said to have created this hymn as a result of being inspired by the scenery in his walk in the area around Lockport, New York.i

Just as a wondrous view of nature inspires and reminds us of God’s creation, sometimes singing such aesthetics-focused hymns lulls us into forgetting the responsibilities we have as God’s children to care for creation.

Indeed, might we be easily swayed with such romanticised view of the world when we are frequently bombarded with lovely natural images that serve as background scenes to the songs we sing in worship or see in various Christian videos on the Youtube website? If so, we fail to see the reality of our responsibility as Christians to God’s creation entrusted to our care when we sing and proclaim that “THIS” is my Father’s world.

In recent months, we read of the mishap in the Gulf of Mexico where millions of litres of crude oil were spilled. Less known but equally catastrophic was the explosion of the oil refinery in Dalian, China that led to at least 18 to 27 million tonnes of oil currently drifting in the Yellow Sea.ii

What do such disasters tell us about the world and our stewardship of it?

Nearer to home, I observe that many of us would buy packet meals from food centres. In most instances, we would inevitably get plastic containers to carry out food. They end up being discarded as trash at the end of their use as food containers. While they are most convenient, I am sure the use of such disposable but not biodegradable plastics is not doing our world any good.

We might not be aware of this but when such containers are burned, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. At the same time, other toxic substances might also be released. In view of this, would it not be better if we switch to bringing our own containers when we buy our meals?

Here, I am thinking of the “tingkat” or “tiffi n” carrier of yesteryears. Yes, it may be a hassle to carry one to the food stores, but I think that is one way in which we can be good stewards to the earth that God has asked us to take care of. It is important to remember that faithful stewardship is not just about tithing or financial offering, but is also about how we care for what God has given to us to tend and to hand our world to future generations.

How will others know that we are Christians? Simply said, by our love … not just for our souls but also for God’s creation. Sadly, we do not speak about this holistic understanding of Christian spirituality these days. I think in this liturgical season of Kingdom time, the longest period of the Christian calendar year, sparing a thought on this reality is relevant for us.

Indeed, as the song “ This World is Full of Wonders”, composed by Bart Shaha, the General Secretary of the World Alliance of YMCA, reminds us, humanity is not the owner but caretaker of the earth. This same earth supplies the water that we drink, the food that we eat and the air that we breathe.

The next time, before you use that disposal plastic cup or plate at the church refreshment corner, consider how that act reflects your vocation as God’s faithful steward. I would suggest that this simple act of kindness to care for creation is one way in which we proclaim God’s reign over the earth and like the last line of Babcock’s hymn tells us, “ … the earth will be glad”.

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i ttp://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/t/i/tismyfw.htm. Accessed August 1, 2010.

ii http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_china_pipeline_explosion, and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-10819987. Accessed August 1, 2010.

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