By Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network
April 22, 2020 will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Last January we were encouraging our network members all over the world to make plans to mark this anniversary with projects, activities, and church services celebrating God’s creation. Those plans seem so long ago, don’t they? Rather than joining with our communities to clean up or plant trees, we’re stuck inside, hostage to an invisible virus. It’s hard to think about God’s world when we’re concerned about jobs that have disappeared, and perhaps even where our next meal might be coming from.
Even so, this week will still be Earth Day, and an opportunity amid this crisis to pause and give thanks to God for this world he has given us to live in and to care for.
The Earth Day people asked me (Ed) to send them a video message that could be used as part of their digital programming on April 22. I wanted to share with you the basic message we want to communicate through that two minute video. For the first two points, I am indebted to Ruth Padilla DeBorst, who used these in one of her comments in the Lausanne Global Classroom Creation Care video series.
- Let us remember that we have a good God. As our world falls to pieces it is tempting, and even natural, to wonder about God’s role in this, and to question his character and integrity. We must not go down that road: through the eyes of faith we see and believe that our God is a good God, that his love yesterday is the same as his love tomorrow. We don’t understand what is happening; we cry out in dismay and even in fear. Nevertheless, our God is who he always has been. We can be confident that he will be with us even in the middle of Covid-19.
- This good God has given us a good creation. Human society is crumbling. Economies are devastated. Vast fortunes and tiny stores of cash have alike been wiped out. And yet, the sun comes up every day. God still sends his rain on the just and the unjust. The lilies are as beautiful as ever, and the birds continue to be fed by their heavenly Father. Some of us are seeing God’s beautiful creation as if for the first time. Skies are blue and distant mountain peaks are visible. In spite of our fear and the turmoil of this crisis, let us take time this week to celebrate God’s good creation, to thank him for it, and to remember that he cares for the flowers and birds and he loves and cares for us.
- In spite of all of this, we have been wicked servants and bad stewards of God’s good gifts to us. The exact origins and path of spread of this virus remain to be investigated, but it is clear that our abuse of God’s good creation made the crisis possible, and even more, how sinful our society is. In the US ethnic minorities are dying at higher rates than the general population. In many, many countries, mass starvation looms as slums are locked down in an attempt to stop the contagion.
So what should our response be, on this celebration of Earth Day? Let’s turn back to that good God, with confession, repentance, and a global cry for mercy. He has promised. May I quote a verse I have used before?
If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
II Chronicles 7:14
Here are some opportunities you might want to take advantage of related to Earth Day in the coming days. As far as we know, all of these are free of charge:
- Monday, 20 April (8:30 am to 8:30 pm US Central time, 1330 UTC) An Earth Day scientific conference hosted by the Nelson Institute of the University of Wisconsin Madison. This is one of the premier environmental conferences of the year, and this year is being offered online, free of charge. (But registration is required). The timing may be difficult for some time zones, but if you can avail yourself of this opportunity, please do so.
- Wednesday, 22 April (24 hours): Digital Earth Day programming. Click for details.
- Also Wednesday (noon local time): A global time of prayer and meditation for 10 minutes. Many others will be praying to a God they are not sure of; let us join together to petition our good God whom we know, whom we love, and who we know loves us.
- Friday, 25 April (1-4 pm US Eastern time, 1800 UTC): “Virtual Earth Day: Uniting From Home“, A Citizens’ Climate Lobby Event featuring Katharine Hayhoe. Event information, including Zoom link, is on this page.
And we would of course encourage you to include prayers – both thanksgiving and petition – in whatever church services or prayer times you might be having in the coming week. And, if your local regulations permit it, try to get outside to experience and celebrate this good creation once again.
May God bless each of us during these difficult days –
Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network