Fostering a cause, a kitten, or a kid helps advance their well-being, provides for their basic needs and then some, carefully nourishes them so they don't decline. All creation remains fragile and vulnerable and cannot even survive – let alone flourish – on its own, but as the witness of scripture constantly reminds us, we especially need to look out for those without more conventional support systems, aspects of God's creation in particular need—which could be anyone, anywhere, at almost any time. That's exactly what the scripture quote from James reminds us; to echo the liberation theology slogan, "God has a preferential option for the poor." A friend in Previous City is active in a new church start called "Flourish San Diego." Foster and flourish have the same goal; foster's the plainer word, while flourish blazes fanfares and unfurls banners. A church name like flourish followed by name of city or town expresses well what outcomes a healthy church will provide: nurture for its members' basic needs, and beyond that, sufficient additional support so they can reach beyond themselves and the walls of the church building (whether the structure is a rented office or school cafeteria, the living room or patio of someone's home, or a property specifically purchased or built for that church community) to foster and flourish the surrounding community. Some states of the USA designate themselves as commonwealths; to foster a kid, a kitten, a puppy, or a cause means to help incorporate them into the greater common wealth.
Beyond the classic fostering activity of taking a minor child, a kitten, a cat, puppy or dog awaiting adoption into your home for a while, I love the many other foster-related options we have. Big Brother and Big Sister programs for young humans. Humane Societies allow people to snuggle, cuddle, feed, and socialize younger and older critters. Whether we live in an inner city, as part of a suburban household, along a relatively pristine shoreline, work as a farmer or in the techie world, doing our best to be aware of our use and consumption patterns helps foster the entire planet, as does making monetary donations to organizations that provide on the ground caregiving for compromised and endangered species and habitats.
James 1:27 concludes with counsel to keep ourselves – the caregivers, who ideally others also care for – "from being polluted by the world," counsel that needs interpretation. The Greek word for world in this text is the same created-by-the-Word "world" God so loved that we read about in John 3:16. The world includes all creation, so encompasses land, waterways, trees, humans, critters, all flora and all fauna. Clearly we need to look beyond the basic word "world" and realize pollutions not only include unsavory, sinful behaviors that degrade all living things and wreck the planet (extreme cases include human trafficking and mining resources from the ground in ways that will take eons to restore), but frivolous, seemingly trivial, ultimately unessentials such as excessive retail packaging and buying produce that's been hauled long distances.
Thanks, Kristin, for helping me think more comprehensively about fostering and flourishing God has called me to do.