By Rachel Mash
This year the first week of Easter and Earth Day coincide. In light of this, and of the urgent call to ecological stewardship by Church leaders throughout the world, this week’s devotions will concentrate on the relationship between Easter and creation.
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 28:1-16
1 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
11 While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
Why did Jesus die? Was it only to bring reconciliation between God and humans, or was it even more than that? As it says in Colossians in the quite beautiful version in The Message:
[A]ll the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe — people and things, animals and atoms — get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. (1:20)
Jesus’ blood was shed to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth to God.
In the version of the Lord’s Passion and resurrection in Matthew we can see clearly that God brings reconciliation between humans and God. The curtains are torn asunder, the curtains that keep us sinful people away from the presence of God in the Holy of the Holies. We also see creation being reconciled as the earth quakes and the rocks split. The whole of creation responds to this moment of salvation.
What does this mean for us and our beautiful blue Earth? As God’s people of reconciliation, our question is this: Will we act in time to stop more wrongful destruction of the world Jesus died to save? Will we live as people of resurrection, of hope? Or will we leave a bleak and barren planet for our children and grandchildren?
Gus Speth, the famous environmental lawyer, said this:
I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that 30 years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.
As we are reconciled to God, we are also given the Holy Spirit’s power to move past selfishness and greed and apathy to work for the reconciliation of the whole of creation.
The Rev. Dr. Rachel Mash is the environmental Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. She also works with the Green Anglicans Movement and is the secretary to the Anglican Communion Environmental Network.
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The Diocese of Kyoto – The Nippon Sei Ko Kai
The Diocese of Oklahoma