We’re now officially halfway through our year long theme as we focus on our role of being Stewards of Creation. It occurred to me last week that I have mentioned, referenced, and quoted a number of books that I have used as resources and points of reflection along the way. Throughout the last six months, I’ve had quite a few people ask me now and then “what was the name of that book you mentioned again”, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to share a bit of a “Pastor’s Reading List” around our Stewards of Creation theme with you.
First up is an absolutely fantastic book that was recommended to me by a pastoral colleague upon hearing of our upcoming theme. GROUNDED: Finding God in the World – A Spiritual Revolution is the most recently published title written by Diana Butler Bass (author of Christianity After Religion, and Christianity for the Rest of Us). This happens to be the first book I started reading as we set out to plan a year in the church focusing on our role as Stewards of Creation, and has had the strongest impact on the framing of this theme of any of the books mentioned here. It was quoted in framing our Season of Soil, as well as referenced more directly as a sermon illustration. Diana Butler Bass invites her readers into a deeper reflection on God our creator through the interpretive lens of the natural world. If you choose to read only one of the books mentioned here, let it be this one.
Second up is a pair of books for my scientifically minded brothers and sisters in Christ. The first Sunday we kicked off the Stewards of Creation theme on Fall Festival Sunday, I heavily referenced a chapter from The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom by Gerald L. Schroeder, in my sermon, where he maps the days of creation in Genesis to scientifically observed/theorized timelines of cosmology by applying the widely accepted Theory of General Relativity to the point of view of authorship in the first chapter of Genesis. I must admit I definitely didn’t have the time or ability to do this topic justice, but my hope was to wet the whistle, not necessarily lay out the tune. I have had a number of folks since that Sunday ask me about this book, and I definitely recommend it for anyone who may find their spirit intrigued by a healthy respectful dialogue between faith and science. Another book on the same general topic that I happen to be currently reading is a 2007 NY Times bestseller, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins, one of the world’s leading geneticists who headed up the Human Genome Project. In this book, he shares his reflection that “the experience of sequencing the human genome, and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship.”
While we’ve been spending time in deeper reflection about how we are called to be stewards of all that God has given us, this year has also provided a natural opportunity to reflect more deeply on financial stewardship. In many ways it is often easier for God’s people to reflect on being stewards of the natural resources that God provides us, but (especially here in a capitalist nation) I strongly believe that Christ also calls us to be mindful stewards of God’s resources of financial capital as well. While I did mention Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate by J. Clif Christopher in a sermon a few months ago, after recently finishing Giving to God: The Bible’s Good News about Living a Generous Life by Mark Allan Powell, I would more highly recommend Giving to God as it is written for a broader audience of today’s typical church-goers. The first book gets me thinking more about how the church approaches financial stewardship, while Giving to God get’s me thinking about my own financial stewardship.
Finally, another book I am still currently reading, (recommended to me by our very own Tom Struwve) isn’t really written with a specifically Christian readership in mind; that is to say, I would be quite surprised to find this title in a Christian bookstore, namely because it was written from the perspective of the unique intersection between botany and Native American spirituality found in author Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants is a beautifully written personal prose of the soulful discovery found in the internal dialogue between natural science and the roots of the nearly lost faith of Native American ecological world view. Aside from being beautifully written and thematically appropriate, as a Lutheran pastor, I also want to share this particular title as I deeply believe that interfaith dialogue must always be promoted and encouraged by leaders of all faith communities. We can never truly know who we are without also truly knowing the others who God calls us to walk alongside.
If anyone is interested in delving more deeply into any of these books (perhaps with a small group of interested others), please let me know, I would be happy to help facilitate the formation of reading groups, and/or participate in more reflective conversation around any these (or other) titles, as we continue on the second half of our journey together as deepening disciples called to be Stewards of Creation.
Grace and peace to you this day and always.
Pastor Jason Lukis