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'The Treasure Chest'



May we walk in Beauty. May our eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make us wise so that we may understand what you have taught us. Help us learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

Resources: LLM Archives
For nearly a century, Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship assisted, inspired and trained congregations in important ways. LLM ceased operations on May 31, 2003, but the Stewardship of Life Institute is proud to continue its work by making its web resources available to a new generation of stewards.


Bluebird Nesting Boxes: A Project for Youth and Adults
By Richard Carter, Edward Ebersole and Jean Horman

The history of the Eastern Bluebird, its decline to the level of endangerment and its gradual recovery, is a wonderful portrait of a proactive and successful response by concerned people to the larger ecological crisis. This story serves as a focus for a stewardship project for young people that aims to improve their understanding of the biblical theme of dominion and the earth.

This project, which also involves building bluebird nesting boxes, is designed for a two hour youth group session for children about nine to twelve years of age. The project opens with a call to worship, printed below. The call to worship gathers the children into a community to focus on their response to Godís call to become caretakers of the world. The opening prayer is of Native American origin. It demonstrates appreciation for the natural world and reverence for creation.

The Bible study centers on Genesis 1:28, which sets the stage for discussion on creation and stewardship of that creation. The aim is to draw ideas from the children about how personal attitudes and behavior can create damage to the environment, and how change can begin to rectify that damage. Before assembling the nesting boxes, participants listen to the history of the plight of the Eastern Bluebird. After construction of the boxes is completed and directions for mounting the boxes are given, the group session closes with prayer.

Call to Worship
The world belongs to God, the earth and all its people.
How good and how lovely it is
to live together in unity.
Love and faith come together,
justice and peace join hands.
If the Lordís disciples keep silent
these stones would shout aloud.
Lord, open our lips,
and our mouths shall proclaim your praise.
Let us worship God.1

Opening Prayer
O Great Spirit
Whose breath gives life to the world and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze, we need your strength and wisdom.

May we walk in Beauty. May our eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make us wise so that we may understand what you have taught us. Help us learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. Make us always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes so when life fades, and the fading sun sets, our spirits may come to you without shame.

(A Native American Prayer)

"Have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air"

Leader: The earth is the Lordís and the fullness thereof,
All: The world and all those who dwell in it.2

Bible Study
Genesis 1:28-God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." (NRSV)

To encourage reflection, discuss Godís role as Creator, the interdependence of creation and the purpose of life. Generate dialogue about the meaning of dominion and subduing the earth. Search for application of the theme of dominion and stewardship of the earth in the daily lives of the children.

History of the Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird is a North American species of bird that has a history of struggle. In 1850 the House Sparrow was imported from Europe and set free in the U.S. Then again in 1890, another European bird, the Starling, was introduced to North America. Both of these birds are aggressive, have successfully competed for a place in their new country, and are now widespread in the U.S. These birds have been especially hard on the bluebird. Particularly threatening is the House Sparrow. It is about the same size as the bluebird and this enables it to threaten the bluebird by invading established nests, pushing out any eggs, and laying their own clutch of eggs.

In the late 1970s, concerned bird lovers started a campaign to bring back the Eastern Bluebird. After much study of the bird and its routine, a plan was made to assist the bluebirds to find homes. A nesting box was designed to fit the habits of the bird. During nesting season volunteers monitored the boxes and removed sparrow nests, allowing the bluebirds to rebuild the nest. The results of this campaign have brought the bluebird back in increasing numbers.3

Nesting Box Construction
Construction of the Nesting Boxes follows the telling of the history. Lumber that is cut to size, equipment, and other material are needed. There are numerous plans for nesting boxes available at many garden and hardware stores. Bluebirds are particular about their nesting sites and there are several boxes designed for them. A good resource for this project is The Complete Guide to Attracting Bluebirds. The Bluebird Book, by Donald and Lillian Stokes. This book provides the history of the bluebird, the design for the boxes, and the mounting and care recommendations.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, come and help us, Your creation is in danger. Fish of the sea, birds of the air, beast of the field, plants, trees, and we, the people, whom you have created in Your Own image, are held hostage by mighty weapons of war that we have devised. You created the world, Lord. You gave us dominion. We have made bad mistakes. We feel unequal to our task. Please lead us, Lord, out of this maze of destruction onto the path of righteousness that leads to the green garden of peace. We fix our minds on you. Amen.4

1. Jane Parker Huber, ed., Peacemaking Through Worship II (Louisville: Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Social Justice and Peacemaking Ministry Unit, Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.], 1992), p. 25.

2. Susan J. Clark, Celebrating Earth Holy Days: A Resource Guide for Faith Communities (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), p. 94.

3. Donald and Lillian Stokes, The Complete Guide to Attracting Bluebirds: The Bluebird Book (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991), p. 16.

4. Peacemaking Through Worship II, p. 25.

 © Copyright 1996, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

This essay first appeared in the Spring 1996 issue of Faith in Action. Articles in Faith in Action may be reproduced for use in ELCA and ELCIC congregations provided each copy carries the note: © Copyright 1996, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Reprinted with permission.