Born Anew: A Time to Rebalance Creation

Whitney Brown, GIPL’s Communications Manager, shares a modified version of the sermon she offered to Neighborhood Church on Earth Sunday – April 19, 2020.  The text is 1 Peter 1:3-9 (CEB translation). 

For Christians the world over, this time of year continues as the Easter season, leaning into the promise of a resurrected Savior. There’s a particular teaching in 1 Peter 1:3-9 that invites believers to be “born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 

This time of self-isolation and adaptive technology/worship/teaching – you name it, is one of those events that Peter might consider a trial leading to hope. Peter explains that there is an end to the various trials we each experience, but that these moments are important and necessary because they give each of us who claim to be “believers” a chance to have our faith “found genuine.” 

Consider this question as a person of faith –  is your internal sense of your faith genuine?  When I ask this, I’m not wondering if you are praying before each meal or before you go to bed each night.  No, I want to know if you truly feel in touch with God, our Creator.  Do you feel connected to your neighbors?  Do you feel connected to the Earth, to all Creation?

As many of you may know, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day is upon us. As you also may have known,  GIPL had a robust plan for Earth Day celebrations and educational opportunities.  Then, March 13 arrived and everything screeched to a halt.  No in-person gatherings and festivals canceled. All of us watched email after email come in about canceled or postponed events. Quite frankly, this workaholic introvert rejoiced!  With the pause button hit on so many things, there is time to take a deep breath and reflect on what is important to us and what you feel brings you closer to God.  Where do you find God these days?

In seeking a silver-lining in the midst of a pandemic, we can see the novel coronavirus has brought to media attention many issues of environmental justice and inequity in Georgia and across the country.  Access to food, to clean drinking water, to a pollution-free outdoor space, and to safe housing and utilities, even when you lose your source of income, are much more front and center. 

Source: http://gastandardequity.com

 Our black and brown siblings as well as people in lower-income brackets are disproportionately affected by these environmental and health disparities.  At GIPL, we are proud to have signed onto several letters calling for a moratorium on utility cutoffs in Georgia while we navigate the novel coronavirus.  Bringing this issue to the attention of our state government is important, and with a coordinated effort by people of faith like you and me, we can achieve equitable legislative change in a more long-term manner. 

While self-isolating, take time for a faithful environmental action! Write a letter to your legislators, educate yourself on environmental justice/environmental racism, make a donation of healthy food to a local food pantry, give face masks to someone in need, post an article that taught you something new about the environment on your Facebook, VOTE, plant a tree or flowers on the grounds of your worship space, educate yourself on environmental issues in Georgia through articles, books, and documentaries.  Each of our individual acts, when compiled, are a huge effort towards long-overdue legislative changes in Georgia. 

As we have to pause the busyness of our lives, this time of social distancing also has allowed our aching mother Earth to begin to heal from years and years of neglect and maltreatment.  Carbon emissions are dropping due to so many fewer cars on the road. A recent  article said that animals had “taken over” Yosemite National Park now that humans aren’t able to enter it.  In some ways, this terrible pandemic is allowing Creation to be “born anew.”  For this, we should give thanks and rejoice.  Now is our chance to help rebalance Creation by committing to a different path of living.

Our call, as people of faith and people of good ethic, is to care for Creation, to walk gently on the Earth as an act of faith and an act of love for our Creator.  More importantly, perhaps, we are called to care for our neighbors.  This is our chance to work towards a more equitable future for all people. We have a chance to change some of our more wasteful habits and we have a chance to give back to Creation and help heal mother Earth. 

Over the next few months, revel in creation with all your senses, love the strangeness of the time we’re living in, give thanks to God for waking you up today, trust in God even when you don’t see or feel God’s presence.  You are receiving the gift of change and the gift of time. And as Peter said, “You are [ultimately] receiving the goal of your faith: your salvation.”  

And Earth?

Earth in turn receives the gift of healing.

All Creation thanks you for this gift. 

Amen.

 

To watch the full sermon, click below and scroll to 18:55.  

This video was produced by Action Show Studios

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