April presents a unique opportunity for all who have a deep concern for God’s Creation. Holy Week this year brings with 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. In fact, Earth Day Sunday, typically celebrated the first Sunday after Earth Day, falls on Easter Sunday, April 24.
Yet another date that also falls on Easter Sunday is 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.
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.
United Methodist beliefs
As United Methodists, we believe: “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” (Social Principles, ¶160I, Book of Discipline).
All creation is the Lord’s and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it.
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 not fully seen the long-term impact on the health of individuals nor on the irreplaceable marshes and coastline there.
Anecdotal reports continue of oil still 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 they are tied to the Deep Horizon disaster.
This spring, 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.
Every spring, the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, in cooperation with the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group, produces an Earth Day Sunday resource for congregations to incorporate into worship services. The resource comes with background information, theological foundations, sermon notes, bulletin inserts and action ideas to guide in understanding the importance of Creation stewardship.
Theme for this year’s resource is “Where 2 or More are Gathered: Eco-Justice as Community.” The theme 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. It’s 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.
- After the Spill is a blog dedicated to following the progress of restoration efforts in the Gulf Coast region. The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) is a sponsoring partner of this initiative.
- Gulfcoast is GBCS’s page for churches and congregations to get information, updates and resources about the Gulf Coast recovery.
- Earth Day is GBCS’s page for Festival of God’s Creation/Earth Day Sunday.
- Earth Day Sunday Resources from the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program. Be aware that Earth Day is on Good Friday this year, but Earth Day Sunday can be celebrated on any Sunday.
Editor’s note: Samuel Ahn works in the Environmental & Economic Justice work area at the General Board of Church & Society. He is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Wesley Seminary, who will graduate in May 2012. Born and raised in the Washington, D.C., metro area, he is serving part-time at Culmore United Methodist Church in Falls Church, Va.