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 Luke 24:1-12
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
As we celebrate Earth Day today, how do the Easter themes of death and resurrection speak to the present peril of our planet?
We must begin with confession and lament. With Jesus, we must walk to the cross, experiencing the pain of loss and suffering, hearing the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. We must lament the mortal wounds which are destroying the web of life. We must confess our guilt: our offenses against those most vulnerable on this earth, as well as our theft from generations to come.
“God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). We have often misunderstood these words to mean that God loved only the people of the world, and it is for humans alone that Jesus came. But the word for “world” in the original Greek is “cosmos.” God loved the cosmos so much that he sent his Son to die, to bear our suffering and the pain of the whole web of life.
For Christians, the despair and darkness of Good Friday are not the final word. Jesus, the Word of Life, overcomes death. The groaning of creation is not a hopeless pain, but is described as the groaning of childbirth when agony gives way to new life.
The Bible tells us of the “New Earth.” This is not another earth in a different place. There is no Planet B. God promises us that this very earth will be renewed. We are part of God’s redemptive plan. Sadly we have almost delayed too long, and the renewed earth may bear scars just as Jesus’ body did.
It is time to rise up and act, remembering that we are co-creators with God; we are called to love and renew this, our common home. We are not chaplains administering the last rites to a dying earth. We are midwives to the new creation. Let us not look for the living among the dead!
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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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Lafia – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
Diocese of Louisiana