Make Earth Day a Church Day

By Matthew Sleeth 4-20-2011

It is fitting that this year Earth Day falls on Good Friday and that three days later the greatest dawn since the beginning of time is celebrated. To those who claim that the Earth and the life on it are disposable -- or that God cares only about altar calls and that God has no time for the call of whales -- Easter Sunday reminds us of something quite different. God is the author of all life. It pleased God to take the form of humanity and to dwell among us. Christ came to pay a ransom and redeem us. Christ reminded us that God notices every time a sparrow falls from the sky. God is that kind of God -- no less.

In the fullness of time, God will choose to sound the last trumpet. A theology that says we should force God's hand by wanton greed or negligence seems dangerous at best. Easter marks the day when all creation held its breath to see the firstborn, the new Adam, the Messiah. This Easter, let us renew our commitment to love our neighbors with extravagance and to care for the gift of God: the Earth. Let us remember that Mary did not mistake Christ for a soldier or even a Rabbi on Easter morning, but rather a gardener.

Last year, our nonprofit organization Blessed Earth celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day by hosting a simulcast event at Northland, A Church Distributed in Orlando, Florida. More than 2,200 groups from 50 states and 45 countries participated.

This year we are marking the day at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. -- "the nation's church" and the sixth largest cathedral in the world. Since President Teddy Roosevelt attended the laying of the cornerstone in 1907, the Cathedral has been a force in binding us together as one nation under God. Its gothic arches echo with the beauty of a people who bow their heads at the funerals of presidents and inaugurations of its leaders. It is the church in which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last Sunday service.

To be invited to share a sermon at the National Cathedral is a great and humbling honor. I will be reflecting on Earth Day in light of Psalm 24. This Earth Day and Good Friday, let us declare that "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it."

Matthew Sleeth, MD, a former emergency room director and chief-of-staff is author of Serve God, Save the Planet and co-editor of The Green Bible. He co-founder of the faith-based educational nonprofit, Blessed Earth. Video of his sermon at the National Cathedral and a live-audience Q&A is available on the Blessed Earth website, as well as suggestions on help make Earth Day a Church Day in your community.

+Urge your legislators to ensure that the fines levied against BP are used directly for Gulf Coast restoration.

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