Saturday, April 23, 2011

On the Coincidence of Good Friday and Earth Day: May 22, 2011

This year, Good Friday and Earth Day were both April 22. Here in Oregon, Earth Day is the holier day. I didn't actually realize how much holier until I heard a spot on the radio, urging people to check out the "Ecotrope" site:
"In the Pacific Northwest, the environment is personal - it's where we live, work and play. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Ecotrope will bring you news and insight on the region’s most pressing environmental issues."

Seems that on Earth Day, the site invites people to confess their "eco-sins"  by directing them to another site, Grist, complete with virtual confessional booth, and the proper formula, "Forgive me Mother Earth for I have sinned." One can then type in one's transgression, view various "Prayer Cards" to Saints Cloud, Gorge, Sprocket, Umbra and Nino. But the really fun part comes in seeing what others have confessed, at the Sin Gallery:
"I think hybrid cars are for wussies."
"Not composting."
"I bought a new mobile phone."
"I secretly like to hear reports that global warming isn't real because it decreases my guilt level."
Now, we've been tilling the spiritual soil in the Northwest for almost 20 years, so I'm not shocked by any of this. Actually, it may even be cause for some hope! The very fact that people see that the way things are is not the way they ought to be is progress.  Genuine pagans do not even have the category ofor  sin; it is not part of their vocabulary or worldview. But here we have
people who are using that term, in a way that
denotes a real trespass-- one which demands repentance/penance,  forgiveness, and transformation.  If people in the Northwest can see how the environment is groaning under the burden of "eco-sins," then perhaps they will have an easier time seeing that human beings, as part of nature, are groaning under the burden of "human sins."

Romans 8:19-25
19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
 22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
 23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
 24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?
 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

The problem is, we alone cannot save the earth.  We cannot save ourselves by saving the planet. Indeed, we will not be able to save the planet, muchless save ourselves, apart from the One who is Lord of all creation. It is not to Mother Earth that we must confess our sins; it is to Jesus Christ:

Colossians 1: 15-20
 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.
 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, (the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
 19For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
 20and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

It is a wonderful serendipity this year that Good Friday and Earth Day should coincide.  Fellow Oregonians, we cannot truly celebrate  Earth Day unless we celebrate  Him who created and is re-creating all things; and we cannot truly practice good stewardship of the environment until we are somehow changed from being proud, selfish, and greedy consumers to Christ's caretakers of creation.   Fellow Christians, we cannot truly understand and honor Good Friday unless we understand that Christ's mission of redemption extends not just to our own individual souls, but to all nature.

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