Earth Day 2021 is Thursday April 22. It was first celebrated over 50 years ago, in 1970.
The 2021 theme is Restore Our Earth which focuses on natural processes and emerging green technologies that can restore the world’s ecosystems. The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have painfully reminded us about the impacts of human behaviour that break down natural systems and threaten the lives of so many species, including humans. Restore Our Earth reminds us of the opportunity we have to restore relationship, to reconnect with Creation, and learn to live in right relationship with people and the earth, and to pursue economic recovery programs following the pandemic that incorporate strong sustainability and low-carbon measures. The world could effectively use the exit from COVID-19 to accelerate a green transition. Every one of us needs a healthy Earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health and survival, and happiness.
Christine Sine (Godspacelight.com) writes:
Like many early Christians, I believe that God speaks through two books – the Bible and creation. The great Irish teacher John Scotus Eriugena, “invites us to listen to the two books in stereo. He encourages us to listen to the strains of the human heart in scripture and to discern within them the sound of God and to listen to the murmurings and thunders of creation and to know within them the music of God’s being.”
(From J. Phillip Newell, Christ of the Celts, p50).
The Celts knew Jesus as the Word of God. They also saw scripture as the little (in size) book testifying to God, and nature as the big book revealing who God is. It was perfectly natural for them to go into nature and learn of God. This makes some folks nervous, and several years ago I would have been nervous as well. (*’Worshipping the creation rather than the Creator” is a significant warning about knowing the difference between the two. God fashioned creation to give testimony to who God is. This truth becomes evident as we re-read scripture, especially the Psalms and the parables of Jesus’).
We should take comfort in the words of Paul to the church in Rome: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things God has made.” (Romans 1:19-20)
Christine continues: ‘I am not alone in this. Christians increasingly meet with God through practices like Lectio Tierra and forest bathing’.
Did you know Rev Dr Jana Norman, former Minister at Pilgrim Uniting Church, is a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy/Forest Bathing Guide? See more about Jana here, and the focus for her second doctoral thesis here). Australian bushwalkers have known for generations that spending time in the great outdoors is good for the body, the mind and the soul. “It’s the slowness, it’s the stillness, it’s the deep attention to being in the place, so I notice shapes, and colours, and sounds”. (Dr Jana Norman)
As you celebrate Earth week this week, find ways to enrich your connection to God’s wonderful creation – on a walk, in the garden – and consider ways to continue “reading” this second book through which God is revealed, every week of the year.
(In the last week, a new video series, “the Lessons from COVID-19 for the Climate Emergence”, was launched by Dr Deidre Palmer, President of the Uniting Church in Australia. It is the Uniting Church Fellowship and Mission Support (UCFAMS) President’s project with the support of the South Australian Synod with collaborators including Rev Jennifer Hughes, Rev Lyn Leane, Rev Brian Polkinghorne, Dr Colin Cargill, and Leigh Newton. The series invites an informed conversation about the Climate Change crisis. All videos and accompanying study materials will be freely available).