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Resurrection and the Earth

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Easter 2, Common Lectionary Year A

50th Anniversary of Earth Day

Genesis 1:26-28 and Isaiah 65:17, 25

©2020 Rev Wendy A. Evans

Last Sunday my eldest son,
excited about his chocolate egg search,
came in to wake me up,
literally at the crack of dawn.
I quickly looked out the window,
and, much to his surprise,
said thank you for waking me so early!
I then grabbed my shoes and jacket
and was out the door in a flash,
running down the street
through the park
reaching the edge of the water
with only a moment to spare.
Suddenly, there it was.
The glorious Easter sunrise before me.
Soaking it in,
I stood alone
but felt so utterly connected
to the entire earth in that moment
as the alleluias filled my heart, mind and soul.

A week later here we are,
trying to find a way
to hold on to those alleluias
into this Easter season
that feels rather ‘virtual’ in more ways than one.

When Rev E. asked me several months ago
to share on this 50th anniversary of Earth Sunday
my reflections from the 2019 UN climate conference,
I only had one global emergency on my mind at the time:
And that was the climate emergency.

2019 had been a big year
in the world wide wake up call
to the desperate plight of our planet.
Alongside many of you,
I marched for climate justice
in a crowd of ½ million people in Montreal last September.
Given today’s context,
it feels like an extra long time ago now!

It had been a big year
to address just how much,
especially in the global north,
we have ignored or distorted
the God given gift
of our sacred relationship and responsibility
to the natural world
as described in those opening verses of Genesis.
Over these last 200 years,
in our individualistic culture
of overwhelming carbon consumption,
we have decisively reshaped the planet
in countless ways and with deadly consequences.

To the point where
environmentalist Bill McKibben
dared to wonder
“are we running Genesis backward,
de-creating the world?”[2]

Last December,
as we gathered as a global community
on that opening day of the
UN Climate conference in Madrid,
the urgency of the timeline
with which to respond
to our planetary ‘house on fire’
was clearly set before us,
especially guided by the wisdom
of Indigenous and youth leaders.

There was a feeling in the air
that finally,
this could be the moment,
when government policies
and international cooperation
would step up to reflect the urgency,
to commit to that holy responsibility
of shared care.

And yet, frustration and anguish quickly arose,
as the negotiations were repeatedly stalled,
as civil society voices
were often silenced forcefully,
as the realization hit home
that the hearts and imaginations
of the most powerful plunderers
still remained closed.

At the same time,
I felt so much energy
rising up from the grassroots around the world
and at the conference,
especially within the heart work and the heart beat
of the faith community and practices present there,
sharing our intrinsic hope.

I had a moment before leaving to pause
in the Madrid botanical garden
in a beautiful spot with trees encircled by hearts,
realizing how much my own heart was further transformed
by the experience and those relationships.

And yet, the question remained:
How could we get the whole human population
to open their hearts together into
imagining a radically different future
in relation to one another and rest of the earth
before it’s too late?
I came home from the conference
with such an intensity of heart,
both energized and daunted by that question.

2020 is the designated year
for all countries to submit
their climate ambition commitments
to reduce global warming.

And suddenly here we are in 2020
with another global emergency
on our hands.

A pandemic that has,
literally overnight
and across the globe,
radically shifted our way of life
in ways more drastic
than we could have ever imagined.

The COVID crisis is demanding a lot
with so many sudden changes and unknowns,
stress, trauma, and grief
a big part of daily life for so many.

The reality is
we now have 2 global emergencies on our hands
And those on the frontlines
of both COVID and climate disasters simultaneously
don’t have the luxury of pretending otherwise.

In this time of extraordinary crisis,
there is also an unprecedented opportunity
to respond in a profound way that will address both emergencies,
to reclaim our original calling and vocation
commissioned by God
in those opening verses of Genesis.

We are already experiencing
such extraordinary creativity and care
pouring out of people
and witnessing much of the rest of creation
finally having the chance to take a deep breath.

We need to choose wisely
what we don’t want to return to
when the COVID crisis is over.

Now, in these days, to encourage our way forward
my friend Dr Courtney Howard (president of the Canadian
Association of Physicians for the Environment)
highlights that we need to transition from a house on fire image
that has served us over the last couple of years
to a new one that describes a path to safety
with compassion and inclusion for all.

As people of faith,
in this Easter season
we have a such a cosmic image
to share,
to propel the global imagination
into a redeemed future
that restores the human community
within the restoration of
the entire planetary community.

In Isaiah’s wild vision of the peaceable kingdom:
Where the wolf and lamb will feed together,
where the lion shall eat straw like the cattle,
where the serpent’s food shall be the dust,
and they shall neither hurt, nor destroy
on all God’s holy mountain.[2]

This is God’s promise.

[1] Diana Butler. Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015.
[2] Paraphrase of Isaiah 65:25

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