Flourish Magazine, Fall 2009
As life moves indoors, the structures we inhabit become of utmost importance to us as they shelter us from harsh weather: Here in Illinois, my home protected me from about four feet of snow over the course of last winter!
But our houses, churches, schools, and offices are much more than just shelters from the storm. As this issue of Flourish magazine explores, they can also express our deepest values. In the article, “Green Building on Solid Ground,” a Christian ministry, a Christian school, and a church community all prioritize sustainable building practices as expressions of excellence, compassion, and community. And in an interview with author, landscape architect, and city planner Michael Abbaté, we’re reminded that “building a church is a bit like making an offering to God,” a re-prioritizing that encourages many congregations to configure their worship space in careful and creative ways.
This emphasis on built structures is not meant to ignore the Spirit that invigorates the work and worship going on within them, or to undermine the caution that the church is not contained in buildings. But it is a reminder that our flesh and our spirit are knit together and that we, in turn, are knit to both earth and heaven. The implications of our integrated existence constitute the theme of Wendell Berry’s essay “The Gift of Good Land.” Reprinted here on the 30th anniversary of its 1979 publication, Berry’s eminent essay is still a strong critique and inspiring injunction for those God has charged with the privilege and responsibility of creation’s stewardship. This reading is perhaps even more crucial for Christians today than it was thirty years ago, as we struggle to distinguish a biblical approach to stewardship that is not only winsome and gracious to non-Christians, but also rooted in truth amidst the shifting trends of environmentalism.
The practicalities of that rootedness are also detailed in this issue. Look for stories of restoration in poor communities through financially and ecologically viable agriculture; find out how to enjoy a rich holiday season without buying a thing; and discover a host of new books, movies, and tips to energize and inform your stewardship of this gift of good land. And as the days shorten and we spend more time indoors, keep up with the Flourish blog for indoor activities that keep kids away from screens and outdoor activities that brave the cold.
Peace to you as creation sheds its summer glory and stores up for winter. May your own journey into this holiday season be just as sacred.