Apr 22 2011

Earth Day and Good Friday

Today two days that are very important to me happen to fall on the same day—Good Friday and Earth Day.  I’m sure most people will not draw a connection between the two but there most certainly is one.  In fact, for Christians there are many things that connect Good Friday and Earth Day.  For starters, the one whose death on the Cross we remember today is also the one the Bible tells us was responsible for creating the earth.  The apostle Paul referred to Jesus as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth…” (Colossians 1:15-16)

The Bible also connects Jesus and the earth when we are told “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  The basis for God’s incredible gift of Jesus was His love for the world.  This includes not just humans but all of His Creation.  It is clear from Jesus’ own teachings that he, too, love this planet we call home.

In our pride we tend to think of the salvation made possible on Good Friday as being intended only for humans.  The Bible says something very different.  What Jesus did on the Cross that first Good Friday affects all of Creation.  Paul says in the Book of Romans that Creation shares our same hope.  He writes: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (8:18-21)

People read the Book of Revelation and get all excited about the “streets of gold” in heaven.  They sometimes fail to see that we are promised in these same pages “a new heaven and a new earth.”  (Revelation 21:1)  The earth will also be glorified and renewed.  The One who died on the cross on Good Friday makes “all things new.”

Considering the fact that Jesus’ death on the Cross would benefit all of Creation is it any wonder that on that first Good Friday “darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining?” (Luke 23:44-45)  Even the earth was humbled by what Jesus did for us on the Cross. 

I’m glad that this year Earth Day and Good Friday fall on the same day.  It gives us a chance to pause and remember some very important truths—truths we might not reflect on or connect otherwise.  I give thanks for my wonderful Savior and for the truth that his redemptive act on the Cross was for all the world and that this includes me too.

–Chuck

(I took the top image several years ago at Hensley Settlement in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.  The bottom image was taken last week of the Hana Coast from the Hana Highway in Hawaii.)


Mar 30 2011

Streams of Living Water

There can be no denying that Jesus was a masterful teacher.  He not only knew what to say and how, he also knew when.  In Vespers tonight I’ll be teaching from the seventh chapter of John’s Gospel.  The setting for this chapter is Jerusalem at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.  At this popular feast the Jews remembered the days their ancestors had spent wandering in the desert centuries before.  They recalled how through Moses God brought forth water from a rock.  Throughout the eight day festival water libations were offered to remind themselves of God’s provisions and also to offer prayers for rain.

John tells us that “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within.’”  (7:37-38)  At the precise time when the gift of water was the focus Jesus invited everyone to come to him and quench their thirst.  What he offered them was not some beverage that would only momentarily slake their thirst; he offered them himself and the “living water” that alone can satisfy our greatest need.  Those who received this gift of living water would then be able to draw from it and share the same gift with others.

Some believe that behind Jesus’ words is a prophecy found in Isaiah 58:11. “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  You also cannot read Jesus’ words without recalling his message to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:14, “…whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

An ever-flowing stream is a wonderful metaphor for the gift of life and salvation Jesus offers us. Picturing Jesus’ gift as just a cup of water is not adequate.  I picture instead a stream not unlike the one shown above–a stream that is gushing.   If we accept Jesus’ invitation to believe in him we will be filled with a source of living water that shall never cease.  It will, in fact, be so abundant we won’t be able not to share it with others.  If you get the privilege of seeing a swollen stream this spring, I hope you’ll stop and think about this.  I have a feeling that is what the master teacher, Jesus, would want us to do.

–Chuck

(I took these two images of Gap Creek in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park earlier this month.)