By Rev. Dr. Dawn Darwin Weaks
Pastor, Connection Christian Church
I recently read two headlines that stuck with me. CNN reported, “Americans Are Wealthier Than Ever Before.” And PBS News stated, “The Planet is Warmer Than It Has Ever Been.” Though from two different news sources, these two headlines seem to interpret each other.
Our American accumulation of wealth is at the cost of the sustainability of our planet. According to Oxfam’s research, the U.S. tops the world with our share of ultra-rich citizens and the ultra-rich are the biggest individual contributors to the climate crisis that is inflicting added suffering around the world.
The classic story of Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28 shows us another way. Younger-brother Jacob has just run away after stealing his father’s blessing of inheritance intended for older brother Esau. He seems to have gotten away with it, but a terrifying encounter with the Omniscient God proves otherwise. God confronts Jacob in his dreams, giving him the vision of angels coming to earth via a connecting ladder. God lets Jacob know that Jacob’s assumption that he is a self-made man in control of his own destiny is bogus. God gives a new purpose for Jacob’s stolen wealth: it is to be used to bless all of the families of the earth.
This is a recapitulation of the instruction God gave Jacob’s grandfather, Abram, in Genesis 12: “Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
In this simple declaration we find God’s will for material and spiritual blessings. Blessings, to remain blessings from God, are to pass to us, and then through us, for others. Stagnate blessings are like stagnate water — no good for anyone. In our churches we sing the ancient doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Flow is what blessings are supposed to do; flow to us and through us, to stay true blessings.
Though many in our nation still think of our country as Christian in principle, we have wandered very far from this bedrock truth. Wealth that doesn’t help people and planet isn’t the wealth God intends. How are you and I, though we may not be ultra-rich, living God’s way of blessing as a witness to our overheated world? Let us trust that angels are keeping the connection between heaven and earth open for all the help we need.