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 28:16-20
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is the well-known Great Commission. It is interesting to reflect on the parallel version in Mark 16:15, where Jesus says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Are these two versions completely different? Does Matthew call us to a global mission to all human beings, with Mark calling us to a broader mission, to bring the good news to the whole of creation?
We need to remember that the New Testament takes the Old Testament for granted. The Old Testament understands that all of creation joins us in praising God. In Psalm 148, the wonderful choir of creation is made up of all the creatures that fill the earth and sky and sea. Not only great sea creatures, mighty animals, and creeping insects, but the eco-systems themselves, the mountains, the forests, join humans great and small in this wonderful hymn of praise to God. So when the New Testament talks about all of creation, or “all things,” there is this implicit understanding that it is more than just humans.
I remember having an “Aha” moment chatting with a wonderful Lutheran pastor from the Navajo Nation. She said, “When we read ‘All peoples praise the Lord,’ that is just what we mean!” She was talking about all human peoples, along with all the “peoples” that fly and swim and crawl — we all praise the Lord together.
We have shrunk down this view of creation to limit the good news only to the two-legged hairless peoples! But God made all of creation, God cares and provides for all of creation, God saves all of creation … and God calls us, as messengers of that salvation, to bring the good news and to act for the renewal of all the peoples in creation.
Let all the peoples praise thee, oh Lord (Ps. 67:5)!
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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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Kyushu – The Nippon Sei Ko Kai
Church of the Good Shepherd, Lookout Mountain, Tenn.