The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,
the world and all who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1
Easter Blessings! God’s mighty act in resurrecting Jesus from the dead emphasizes what we believe: that God is the author of abundant life for all. This year, Friday, April 22 is Earth Day, and for Episcopalians, Sunday, April 24 is Creation Care Sunday. It’s a time for Christians to celebrate God’s love, which embraces not only humanity but all of creation. The accounts of God’s creation in Genesis 1 and 2 depict the outpouring of God’s love, which resulted in a wondrous creation that God called “very good,” teeming with diverse and interdependent life. The first human was placed in the garden “to till it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Yet we humans have overused the riches of creation, jeopardizing the future of humanity and the Earth itself. I urge Episcopalians in our diocese to take action for the restoration of God’s beloved creation. At the end of this letter, you can find a list of resources for this work.
In 2011, the Episcopal House of Bishops issued a Pastoral Teaching on Care for Creation that called us to action. Quoting from that teaching:
This is the appointed time for all God’s children to work for the common goal of renewing the earth as a hospitable abode for the flourishing of all life. We are called to speak and act on behalf of God’s good creation.
Looking back to the creation accounts in Genesis, we see God’s creation was “very good,” providing all that humans would need for abundant, peaceful life. In creating the world God’s loving concern extended to the whole of it, not just to humans. And the scope of God’s redemptive love in Christ is equally broad: the Word became incarnate in Christ not just for our sake, but for the salvation of the whole world. In the Book of Revelation, we read that God will restore the goodness and completeness of creation in the “new Jerusalem.” Within this new city, God renews and redeems the natural world rather than obliterating it. We now live in that time between God’s creation of this good world and its final redemption: “The whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for . . . the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-3).
Affirming the biblical witness to God’s abiding and all-encompassing love for creation, we recognize that we cannot separate ourselves as humans from the rest of the created order.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to continue his ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). On Earth Day, we remember that our call to reconciliation includes the beautiful creation that surrounds us and supports our life.
This year within the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego we have suffered fires, drought, and flooding. Our communities with low income and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the serious health and economic hardships that have affected everyone. The proceedings of the February 2022 Sixth Assessment Report from the International Panel on Climate Change observed that “human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks….Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible.” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said, “We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a livable future.”
And so, beloved, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and the concern also expressed by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, I believe that this climate emergency calls us to a committed response. At our 2021 diocesan convention, EDSD passed Resolution 21-06 (scroll down to the sixth resolution), Putting into Practice Locally the Episcopal Covenant to Care for Creation. In accordance with our promises in that resolution, I urge individuals, ministries, and churches within the Diocese to commit to practical actions for the healing of our common home. Through the Diocese’s Advocacy Committee, the Creation Care Task Force is available to provide resources necessary for the formation of Creation Care teams within churches. These teams can commit to the Episcopal Church Covenant and engage their congregations to better advocate for God’s Creation in the crucial days ahead.
The Episcopal Church’s (TEC) Covenant for the Care of Creation is a commitment to practice loving formation, liberating advocacy, and life-giving conservation as individuals, congregations, ministries, and dioceses. You can explore the Covenant here.
For more information or support, contact the EDSD Creation Care Task Force.
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