April 22, 2020 was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a day instituted to aid in worldwide public advocacy for environmental consciousness and protection of the Earth. We Christians might call it environmental stewardship, because we recognize in the Book of Genesis not only that the universe is God’s creation, but also that God calls upon us to be good stewards of our environment. Often, Earth Day falls just around the second Sunday after Easter, and it demonstrates the close connection between the physical resurrection of Jesus and the power of resurrection built into all of nature. The body of Christ lives on in our wounded world, asking us to notice its wounds and to feed it.
For many of us, our current Shelter in Place lives has sharpened our awareness of how much power we have to be good stewards of God’s creation. The shutdown of plants and the significant reduction of automobile traffic has dramatically reduced air pollution in congested parts of the world. Reduced air travel also benefits the environment and reduces climate change. As people cook more at home and order less take-out food, there are fewer plastic and Styrofoam containers to dispose of. With fewer places in nature to go, we sit at home and become attuned to the birdsong and blooms in patches of foliage in our neighborhoods. As mystics, sages, and Wisdom writers remind us, this appreciation of nature draws our senses toward the Creator who made it all.
This experience gives us a chance to think about how things might be different once we are able to return to our typical patterns. Can we cleave to some of these ways of environmental stewardship? Can we reduce our carbon footprint and find ways to heal and revere God’s waterways, soil, animals of land and sea, and everything else that grows?
The Episcopal Church and its advocacy arm, the Episcopal Public Policy Network, publish many resources to help us learn, pray and act on behalf of others and the environment. You can find some creation care resources here: https://episcopalchurch.org/creation-care and https://episcopalchurch.org/OGR/creation-care.
May you experience the power of the Risen Christ in the coming months.
The Rev. Janine Schenone
Chair, Advocacy Committee
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