Study 1

Why Cherish the Earth?

Reading for this study     Chapter 1 and Chapter 5 of Cherishing the Earth (CTE)
Key point:            The intrinsic value of the natural world

Preparation
The leader will need to collect some natural items that can be handed round to the group. Ideas might be: a stone; a flower; a leaf; a picture of a mountain, the sea, or an animal. Have a picture of people: ideally a group including children and older people. Try to have enough so that each person in the group can be given at least one item. Remember not to pick wild flowers or sensitive plants such as moss or lichens.

Opening discussion
Ask each member of the group to describe a natural place that they value. Ask them to explain why they value it and what aspect of the place they value most. If you are starting a new group for these studies you could use this question for people to introduce themselves to others in the group.

Read Genesis 1:1-25
1.    What makes nature valuable?
2.    How does God express the value he gives to nature?
3.    Are people more important than nature?
4.    How do we balance the value of people and the value of nature
See pages 13-18 of CTE

Hand round the collection of natural things asking each person to take one (or two)
5.    Ask people to explain why they think the item they are holding is valuable.

Read Psalm 148
6.    What is nature for?
7.    How does nature worship God?
See pages 84-85 and 18-19 of CTE

Discussion
8.    What do Christians see as most important in the world?
•    People
•    The overall ecosystem, locally and globally
•    Each plant and animal is important
•    God - giving value to his good creation
9.    How will these different values affect the decisions we make?
10.    How would a more holistic approach benefit both people and planet?
See pages 15-18, 79-88, and 93-96 of CTE.

If you would like a case study for your discussion, you could take the story by Bishop Hilkiah Omindo of tree planting in Tanzania. This is on pages 157-159 of CTE and further information and be found on:
http://www.wakefield.anglican.org/info/overseas/mara/maratrees.htm

Practical action
Homegroup level: what could be more sustainable in the running of your group? (look at transport, energy use, food). You could also look at the sustainable running of your church.
One simple way to start is to change the way we approach food. Try to take a sustainable approach to your shopping this week. Buy local where possible and avoid heavily packaged and overly processed food. How do you transport your shopping? Taking the car to pick up a small amount of local produce may give it a bigger carbon footprint than food that has been flown in from abroad. Are there ways of avoiding food waste? Is sustainable food healthier? See p.104-111 of CTE for further information about food.


Points to consider
1. You may like to reflect on the “theology of food”. How are your practical actions be linked to your Christian faith? See p.114-116 for a biblical reflection on lifestyle.

2. If you have a group for whom the focus on Genesis is likely to lead them to look at issues of creation and evolution, you may like to read chapter 5 pages 88-92 of CTE and have a short part of the study looking at the 4 main views that Christians take. You may like to begin with the quote from Richard Cizik on page 79. As these studies are focused on the care of creation rather than the origins, it would be helpful to keep any consideration of this issue very short and you may like to either keep it until the end of the study or set aside a separate time to have the discussion. We would suggest you simply present the 4 views, give a set amount of time for people to discuss them, then ask the question: Will these different views lead to significantly different approaches in our care of God’s creation?

Forward to Study 2