Good Friday, Third Hour Meditation, Earth Day
April 22, 2011
Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10
“Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
This year is unique in the fact that Good Friday is also International Earth Day. While many may think that it is not appropriate or even possible to link these two events together, I believe that Jesus’ Crucifixion and the degradation of our environment are in fact, related.
Making a conscious decision and remaining determined to care for the environment and creation is something that takes time for many people. Over the past few years, many people in this congregation have made exactly that choice. The decision to include the over-all Creation as a part of our stewardship responsibilities is something that we are committed to as a congregation, and something to which many people have individually committed themselves, by taking steps to be more energy conscious, to be more environmentally aware, to be better stewards of creation. Will these steps solve all of the Earth's problems? No. Will these steps move us in a direction toward a solution? Absolutely.
As I have already stated and perhaps most of you already knew, Earth Day this year falls today, on Good Friday. Yes, we do have other things to be thinking about on Good Friday. I spoke of them last hour. But there's a certain logic to having Earth Day and Good Friday coincide. It reminds me of something St. Paul writes in the New Testament when he says that the whole creation is groaning in labor until the sons and daughters of God should be revealed. Now there is an environmental statement from the New Testament if ever there was one that links the fate of the world with our own ability to live into our vocation as the people of God.
When we think about the crucifixion of Jesus we remember that his cross was not made out of plastic but out of wood, a substance taken from the Earth. And we remember that that cross was not floating in midair, it was sunk deeply into the Earth wounding the Earth just as much as Christ himself was wounded. And for us the face of Jesus on the cross is not just the face of the suffering of humanity, it's also the face of the suffering of all creation. But as Christian people we never, ever contemplate the cross without contemplating the empty tomb that lies beyond it. It is impossible…we already know how the story turns out.
But still, the world is suffering. We and all of creation. There are things we can do and are doing to help but we can never be so overwhelmed that we believe that suffering has the last word. It is the risen Christ who will have the last word. It is life who has the last word and we are called to be partners with God in moving toward that life.
I am not the first person to discover this interconnection between the life, death and resurrection of Christ and the life, death and renewed life of our Earth. Henry Nouwen, a well-known Catholic priest and author, knew that connection, as well, and spoke of it far more eloquently than I in this meditation, that is adapted from his Stations of the Cross:
You once carried your cross. You are still carrying your cross.
You once died. You are dying still.
You once rose from the dead. You are still rising from the dead.
In all that you have made we look at you and you open our eyes to the ways in which your passion, death and resurrection are happening among us every day.
In all of your creation not just in the human realm.
But within us there is a deep fear of looking at our own world and its desecration. You say to us, “Do not be afraid to look, to touch, to heal, to comfort and to console.”
We listen to your voice and as we enter more deeply into the painful but also hope-filled lives of our fellow beings, human and nonhuman, we know that we enter more deeply into your heart.
Our fears, dear Savior, of opening our eyes to your suffering creation are deeply rooted in our own anxious hearts. We are not sure that we are truly loved and safely held and so we keep our distance from other creature’s fear-filled lives.
But again you say, “Do not be afraid to let me look at your wounded heart, to embrace you, to heal you, to comfort and console you, because I love you with a love that knows no bounds and poses no contradictions.”
Thank you Jesus God for speaking to us.
We do so desire to let you heal our wounded hearts and from there to reach out to others close by and far away, in all realms of creation, across the whole web of life. We know, Savior, that you are gentle and humble of heart and that you call out, “Come to me, you who labor and are overburdened, who try too hard and worry too much, and I will give you rest.”
As your passion death and resurrection continue in history around the whole globe, give us the hope, the courage and the confidence to let your heart unite our hearts with the hearts of all your suffering creation and so become for us the divine source of new life. Become our light that we might become lights the world. Amen.