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 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10
16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling — 3 if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord — 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
These verses may give the impression that we do not have to concern ourselves too much with the “wasting away” of the earth. The earth is being devastated; the latest IPCC report on climate change indicates that a sustainable future is slipping out of our hands. Drought is leading to massive fires; warming oceans are killing the coral reefs, the nurseries of the oceans. Already half the world’s population suffers severe water shortages at some point each year, and by 2050 a billion people living on coasts will be exposed to massive flooding. But we must not despair, because we “have an eternal glory which far outweighs all of our momentary troubles.”
What does it mean not to despair, and what is this “eternal glory” we wait for? Do we need to stop being concerned with what’s happening around us, and just wait for the “new heaven and the new earth” (Rev. 21:1)? Is that what the Bible is really saying?
What is this new earth the Scriptures talk about? In Greek there are two words for “new,” neos (brand new) and kainos (renewed). Imagine that you smash your car and go to the insurance company. They will either tell you that the car is a write-off and send you a check for a brand-new car, or they will send you to the panel builder to restore the panels, repaint the car, put in a new engine and shining new hubcabs. The brand new car is neos, and the restored, renovated, renewed car is a kainos car. The word for the new earth used in the Bible is kainos. We are not waiting for a brand new earth somewhere beyond the blue; we are looking for the renewal of this earth. And we are being renewed day by day.
The fifth mark of Anglican Mission is: “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Therefore let us not lose heart, for not only are we being spiritually renewed, but we are working with God for the renewal of this earth, our common home.
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 Lagos – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
Messiah Episcopal Church, St. Paul, Minn.