Methodists Celebrate Earth Sunday

Note: This post is part of a series of blog entries by members of After the Spill, a faith-based group formed in response to the April 2010 Gulf oil spill.

By Samuel Ahn
Economic & Environmental Justice, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church
(Learn more on the UMC-GBCS Earth Day Resource Page)

April presents a unique opportunity for all who have a deep concern for God’s Creation. It is especially poignant for those in the Christian tradition. For Christians, the period of Holy Week this year brings not only the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, but also an opportunity for Christians to celebrate the Festival of God’s Creation/Earth Day Sunday. As a matter of fact, Earth Day Sunday, typically celebrated the first Sunday after Earth Day, falls on Easter Sunday, April 24.

Easter Sunday is also the first Sunday after the first anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil disaster. The long, painful drama of summer 2010 began with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, the death of 11 persons, and the subsequent sinking of the entire rig on April 22, 2010.

This juxtaposition of a celebration of resurrection against a remembrance of death and destruction presents an opportunity for congregations. It is important to recognize the importance of Easter and what it means for our Christian faith. But, we cannot ignore the implications of our actions on the lives of our brothers and sisters, as well as on God’s good Creation.

For Christians, it is through the grace and freedom given to us on Easter that we are called to be stewards of this earth. The scope of our stewardship includes everything in the air, the oceans, on the ground and below it.

Specifically for United Methodists, the United Methodist Social Principles declare that “All creation is the Lord’s and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings.” There are similar sentiments found within the beliefs of other mainline Protestant denominations.

Even a year later, the impact the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which stems from our desire for cheaper sources of energy, is still pervasively evident throughout the Gulf Coast region. We have seen marked improvement in the short-term life situations of many residents of the region. The general consensus, though, is that we have yet to fully see the long-term impacts on the health of individuals or the irreplaceable marshes and coastline across the Gulf.

Anecdotal reports continue of oil washing up on beaches a year later. Speculation exists as to its possible adverse affect on the sea creatures of deeper regions of the Gulf of Mexico. It may be years or decades before we can fully appreciate the consequences of our appetite for fossil fuel and how it is tied to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

This spring, Christians are asked to remember to take a Sunday — any Sunday can be Earth Day Sunday — to reinforce the implications of what it means to be stewards of God’s good Creation.

The United Methodist Church, in cooperation with the National Council Churches has produced a resource for churches to use in worship services. The theme for this year’s resource is “Where 2 or More are Gathered: Eco-Justice as Community.” This resource explores how our stewardship of Creation, or lack thereof, affects the lives of our greater global community of brothers and sisters.

This idea of stewardship’s effect on the global community is becoming increasingly relevant. Its obvious pertinence has been underscored by recent global events. The choices one country makes reverberate throughout the world.

We are called to live in community with all of God’s Creation. To live in community is to acknowledge that we inhabit an interconnected world.

As we continue to gain a deeper understanding of the idea that we are all the body of Christ, let us remember we are called by God’s grace and love to be keepers of our brothers, our sisters and God’s good Creation.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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