"On our earthly home together"
This hymn addresses not only our responsibilities to each other, but our collective responsibility to the planet and all life on it.
1. On our earthly home together,
God has placed all in our care;
We have, bring we life or doom,
But one mortal home to share.
2. Earth and Heav'n our nature melding,
Dust beneath, God's breath above;
In us lies the span between,
Depths of sin, the heights of love.
3. Shall we horde this earth's vast plenty
Heedless how our fellows fare?
Vest our hearts in worldly lure
Though in Heav'n our store is bare?
4. Faith to wake our higher nature
With God's help can hope be won;
Not by grand designs and schemes,
But through Jesus one by one.
Thoughts behind the hymn:
The first verse speaks of Genesis 1:26-30, the gift of dominion over all the earth that God has given humankind, and of recent awareness that our earthly home is finite, can be destroyed and made potentially uninhabitable by our failure to responsibly exercise our God-given dominion.
The bringing of doom is in our human grasp by persistent negligence to God's will, while acceptance of His loving plan for us will bring life. The word "choose" give us too much credit. Often the results of our choices are not what we expect. For example, we find ourselves in a precarious state of deteriorating global environment resulting ironically from a century and a half of successes in technological and economic development that nonetheless leave billions living in abject poverty.
The second verse speaks of Genesis 2:7 and all its implications in the dichotomy of our nature.
The third verse asks questions about personal and societal acquisition and consumption of resources in the context of Jesus' teaching. That Jesus encourages us to not accumulate wealth beyond our needs is a theme permeating the Gospels. Today, human suffering of unprecedented scale occurs coincident with astounding wealth and logistical capabilities. We feel helpless at the magnitude of the problems while feeling at the same time such massive suffering is not really excusable.
The second question in the third verse refers to Matthew 6:19-21 as it relates to Matthew 6:24: Can we successfully work to accumulate a comfortable cushion of wealth for ourselves while simultaneously working to allocate a judicious portion of wealth to others? Can we serve the two masters of accumulation and service? Where will our heart be?
The challenging questions of the third verse are not answerable on our own. Jesus explains in John 15, we cannot accomplish the good things we envision without connecting ourselves to the source of all goodness. Our secular world is trying to move mountains as a replacement for faith and love. Rather, we should move mountains as directed by faith and love. This is why it is important for the church on earth to direct as many resources as possible. In this way those who gather much have not too much so those who gather little have not too little (Exodus 16:18). This is why in some parts of the world the Church can accomplish more with millions than can governments and global financial institutions with their billions.