The Creation Care Study Program (CCSP) is a Christian organization whose mission is to educate students to be a part of, and agents for, God’s shalom particularly through understanding and caring for creation.
A Note on Shalom
Biblical shalom, which informs, motivates, and guides CCSP’s educational goals and objectives, is further explained in the following excerpt from CCSP’s handbook. If this resonates with you that’s a good sign; CCSP is the program for you! If you find this challenging or interesting, and are up for an educational adventure learning about God’s heart for shalom, then CCSP may also be the right program for you. Pray about it, and follow God's leading, and if you join us in Belize or New Zealand it will sure to be the semester of a lifetime!
- Excerpt from CCSP's Student Handbook -
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you shalom. ~ Numbers 6:24-26
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will rest on his shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Shalom. Of the increase of his government and shalom there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. ~ Isaiah 9:6-7
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth shalom to all people on whom his favor rests. ~ Luke 2:13-14
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. ~ 2 Cor 5:17-18
Shalom is central to the mission of CCSP.
Many of us recognize ‘shalom’ as a form of greeting or a way of saying goodbye, used by the Jewish people. However, the biblical concept is much more than a mere salutation. Used frequently throughout the Bible (236 times in the OT and 92 times in the NT with the Greek equivalent “eirene”), it is often translated into English as ‘peace’. But the peace expressed here is much deeper and more profound than we often imagine.
Nicholas Wolterstorff (2002, 2004) has written extensively about the meaning of shalom and how this relates to Christian education. The Bible, Wolterstorff says, is the story of the Triune God working to establish his glorious kingdom in this earth, to take up his reign over the whole earth. The content of that reign is shalom (see above and also Isaiah 11:1-8). With the cross and resurrection of Christ, this reign of God has begun. Already the new creation is here, now.
And yet it is not fully present. We live in a world of wounds: social fragmentation, war, violence, poverty, injustice, and environmental degradation. In response we do not hide from the pain of the world, rather we lean into it in Christian lament, the fruit of which is a godly hunger, thirst, and passion for reconciliation grounded in compassion and resurrection-hope that the way things are is not the way they have to be.
Reconciliation, then, is at the heart of shalom because shalom is all about relationships: the way we live with God, with each other, with creation, and with ourselves. At the heart of shalom is our relationship with God, with all others flowing from this root source. If you desire to find shalom with others, with creation and with yourself, you must first seek out shalom with God. Shalom is God’s gift to us (John 14:27).
Shalom at ground level is about peace – the absence of hostility or conflict. Shalom, however, is more than the absence of conflict. It is also about justice, about living in right relationships. There can be no shalom without justice. When someone or something is violated and treated unjustly, shalom is shattered. In a world in which the poor are maltreated, in which violence is inflicted on each other, in which the environment is degraded and abused there is no shalom because there is no final justice.
Shalom is also more than justice. We may live in right relationships, but shalom may still be absent because shalom is about delighting in these relationships. To dwell in shalom is to enjoy living before God, with others, in creation, and with oneself. We are to delight in our service to and worship of the Lord. We are to delight in living in community with other humans. We are to delight in creation and our physical surroundings. If people live in poverty or in pain, shalom cannot be fully present.
CCSP believes this is the focus of our mission – to seek to live in shalom in all our relationships. This is the mission of the Triune God, and therefore this must be our mission too. Further, this is the mission of all Christians: to live in shalom with God, each other, creation and ourselves. We will not bring about shalom in its fullness – that is for God to accomplish. And he will accomplish it. This is the Christian hope: that God will reconcile all things to himself (see Colossians 1:19). However, although the full reign of God on this earth is yet to be realized, God continues to actively pursue shalom on earth and asks us, his followers, to join him as ambassadors of reconciliation. On this journey towards reconciliation/wholeness, we are restless pilgrims whose aim is not to “fix” or “solve” but rather to pray and struggle for shalom, celebrating its presence and lamenting its absence. Wherever shalom is established, no matter how small, it is a taste of God’s goodness and is a signpost pointing toward his coming Kingdom. With God’s help, we will strive to make shalom a reality in every way we can, not least by embodying reconciliation as the body of Christ.
At the heart of CCSP’s mission, our values, our identity, our work, our hope, our pedagogy, our curriculum is this concept of shalom. We believe that shalom is something to live by. This is something to believe in. This is good news to share. We are glad you decided to come and participate in the CCSP experience this semester. We pray God’s shalom on you while you here with us: “May God himself, the God of shalom, sanctify you through and through” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
References: Wolterstorff, Nicholas 2002 Educating for Life: Reflections on Christian Teaching and Learning, Grand Rapids, Baker Academic.
Wolterstorff, Nicholas 2004 Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education, Grand Rapids, Baker Academic.