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.)


Apr 13 2011

Embracing Idleness

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you about my discovering the poetry of Mary Oliver. In addition to ordering a number of her volumes of poems I also purchased a book by Thomas W. Mann called God of Dirt: Mary Oliver and the Other Book of God. This book not only does an excellent job of discussing the spiritual side of Oliver’s poetry, it also has much to say in general about the role of creation in spirituality.

In his book Mann says “The first order of a spiritual attitude toward the world is simply to pay attention to our place in it.” He goes on to add, “This requirement may seem so obvious that it is needless to say, but, in fact, most of us do not pay attention to the natural world in our everyday lives.” Mann points out that our failure to take time to pay attention to the world around us “produces the incapability of experiencing an epiphany.” He next quotes a passage from one of Mary Oliver’s poems: “Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from one boot to another–why don’t you get going? For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees. And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money, I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.”  

Mann explains that if we are to experience God in nature we will have to learn to be idle; he writes, “Paying attention requires idleness, and far from being the Devil’s workshop, this is sacred, Sabbath time.” This is something I needed to hear. I tend to avoid idleness like the plague. It’s hard for me to be still and yet God says to us through the Psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God.” (46:10) My fast paced life and also my fast paced photography (Rob Sheppard says I remind him of a jackrabbit taking pictures) no doubt limits the opportunities God is given to speak to me through His “other book”–His Creation.

I must somehow learn to embrace idleness and make it what it should be, “sacred, Sabbath time.” It won’t be easy but because I hate the thought of missing out on God’s revelation just because I’m too busy to pay attention I’m going to give it a try.

–Chuck

 (I took the two images above yesterday on the Hana Highway on Maui, Hawaii.)