Creation’s Resurrection Call (Earth Day)
Holy Week with its breathless drama is over. We are finding our way through the Easter season. Still we feel the glow of resurrection warming our hearts. So, where do we go from here?
Resurrection is exhausting because it implies transformation, and transformation is hard work.
Consider nature. A seed needs an influx of energy to transform itself into a seedling. A pupa expends a great deal of energy to be transformed into a butterfly.
Resurrection implies death before there can be new life. The seed gives its life for the plant to emerge. The pupa gives its life for the butterfly to emerge. What are we prepared to give to allow God’s Kingdom to come, on earth, as it is in heaven?
Today we focus on Creation which includes us. The assessments made on the natural world’s health is not reassuring. Scientists are sounding warnings. Creation is under great stress due to human activity.
If there is something that needs urgent transformation then it is falsehood, sometimes motivated by a cancerous theology, that says that humans have inherited the earth to do with it as we please.
Unfortunately, this arrogance comes from a false interpretation of the Genesis-Creation-story and oft-quoted words; “…you are to 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.” (Gen 1:28b)
True that it’s a promise that we get to utilize the resources of Creation for our wellbeing. But the Genesis-story implies a responsibility for stewardship of Creation—not the right to abuse it.
Of all the creatures of the earth it is the human family that is harming it the most, often thanks to our unchecked need for mindless human consumption.
For some the idea of Global Warming is a turn-off so let’s not use those words. But let’s just look at the signs of Creation’s pain.
Whales are dying from tons of plastic waste that accumulates in their bodies thanks to the contamination of the oceans.
Millions of acres of forests are being lost for short term mass food production.
I have witnessed firsthand how acid rain from South Africa’s coal-fired electric power stations are affecting the plant life hundreds of miles away.
The ocean’s acidity is rising thanks to the fossil fuel addiction we have. The oceans are rising and warming as the glaciers melt. Species are disappearing at super-speed if measured by the ecological clock which sees changes happen in the span of a generation that usually took hundreds of thousands of years. Our pollinators are in deep crisis thanks to the chemicals we use.
This earth is a forgiving creation. It will come back to life if allowed to. It can resurrect itself if given the rest it needs to come back.
The mass scale degradation of Creation was not a problem in Biblical times and yet, the prophets of old left us with some guidelines.
Leviticus 25:3-5 – “Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the LORD: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land.”
Are we listening to the prophets and story-tellers both ancient and contemporary?
Paul Simon once wrote; “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls”.
The Dalai Lama says;
“Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. ”
Can we imagine a 21st Century Jesus commenting on the state of the natural world as it is managed by us?
For some we seem to think of ourselves as masters of the universe, rather than servants and caretakers of the universe. Let us remember the words in Deuteronomy; “Behold, to the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, and the earth and everything in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:14)
If this is true, dare we be silent in these times?
Anna Frank, the little Dutch girl who sat holed up in a small, secret space, hiding from the Nazis, wrote this in her diary: “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
There is great misery in Creation where the planet had been destroyed and wounded. But, great beauty still remains.
We are called to transform our lives and expectations to accommodate a realistic lifestyle.
Those who profit from the harm being done are opposing all efforts to curb their greed. They are masterful at deception and they invest millions of dollars in their self-serving propaganda. We may risk more than just our egos being bruised by those who benefit from Creation’s abuse.
Twice I have had the opportunity to meet people who escaped with their lives while advocating against the predatory actions of large agri-corporations.
One was from Guatemala where one of our own corporations planned to build a massive dam to serve its factory farm. It meant that this clan would lose their land at no compensation. The man, together with other villagers began a campaign of resistance. He was abducted one day and lined up to be shot when the soldiers gun malfunctioned and he escaped. Its amazing to speak to such an individual.
Another was a young man from Peru who he missed death by minutes when the death squad in the pay of a huge corporate conglomerate ambushed him in a field where he was to address the First People’s who lived there. His crime? Advocating for the rights of the local tribes living in that region. His co-worker was not that fortunate and was killed in the ambush meant for him.
Despite her hopefulness Anna Frank did not survive. She was betrayed in the end and she died in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. But her precious thoughts, written on scraps of paper, live on 70 years after her death.
They speak to us today. So, let’s not think of the misery but let’s think of the beauty that still exists. As people of faith we cannot be silent. We cannot plead ignorance. We need to join the movement of those who advocate for the health of this incredible gift of God—Creation.
May our efforts, both great and small, yield a rich crop in this season of hope. Amen.
Our readings begin with a rhetorical question by the prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
The book of Revelation has this to say;
Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
But like in the time of the prophet Hosea something was out of balance. In his words;
Hosea 4:3 Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing.
In 1051 Joy Harjo wrote this poem;
Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
And once Doubt ruptured the web,
All manner of demon thoughts
We destroyed the world we had been given
For inspiration, for life—
Each stone of jealousy, each stone
Of fear, greed, envy, and hatred, put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were,
Right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other
In the dark.
And now we had no place to live, since we didn’t know
How to live with each other.
Then one of the stumbling ones took pity on another
And shared a blanket.
A spark of kindness made a light.
The light made an opening in the darkness.
Everyone worked together to make a ladder.
A Wind Clan person climbed out first into the next world,
And then the other clans, the children of those clans, their children,
And their children, all the way through time—
To now, into this morning light to you.
Resurrection happens when what has gone through death comes back to life. Our dream; our prayer, Let us listen to the Song of Songs;
Song of Solomon 2
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.