Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing devotions based on the United Methodist membership vows, where we pledge to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This week’s focus is SERVICE, with a particular emphasis on families. We invite you to share these as a family and to read them together with children.

Genesis 1:26 (CEB)

 Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”


By rereading the first chapter of Genesis, I remember that God’s first instructions for humans involve caring for the earth. Some will say that to have “dominion… over all the earth” is the ability to use the resources of the world however we see fit. I don’t wish to argue the use of the word “dominion” but I take the stance that perhaps having complete rule over something also means to not completely use it up or to leave it so damaged it becomes useless. Perhaps it also means that because of this gift we have greater responsibility. Likewise, in Genesis 2:15, God further instructed Adam to “tend the garden.” God made the earth for human use but God also gave us the responsibility for taking good care of it. So how do we each live God’s first instructions to care for God’s precious gift?

As I reflect on this, my husband and I are visiting our son in Europe. While here, I see greater emphasis on recycling household goods at a recycling center in Germany. In Belgium and the Netherlands, there is a fascination for biking that in some ways overshadows the use of cars. Several places, walking is stressed, while there is also the purposeful use and concern for water. Comparing countries aside, we all want to leave the planet so that generations behind us have the opportunity to enjoy it. Yet will God’s children who come after us have this same opportunity? How do we pass the task of helping tend God’s garden along to our kids?

by Barbara Carlson

For Pondering & Prayer

I don’t have quick answers about how to responsibly care for the planet. However I feel certain that we’d all like to see our grandkids have the opportunity to enjoy this gift with its resources intact. So what do you (or can you) do to serve and support the health of your town, state, country and/or world? What has been your part in serving God through helping reserve our resources?

Prayer: God of the Universe, thank you for your most precious gift that is our world. When I don’t always respect this responsibility, please help me to know your peaceful truth. Help me to see how I might serve you and our ancestors for a sustainable and peaceful world. Amen.