"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25:40)
Thank you for participating in the April 26 Global Day of Prayer for Creation Care and the Poor. Our morning together in Washington, DC was a time of prayer and worship. It was all about God. We praised the Creator who provides life's necessities through a garden, which He wonderfully made. Yet, we confessed our failure to care and tend His garden. Our poor stewardship is at the center of our world's great injustices, and if we are serious in our discipleship, we must recognize creation care's role in our responsibility for "the least of these."
The poor are poorer because many of us live unsustainable lives. Food and water scarcity are amplified by a changing climate. Disease multiplies. Women and children suffer increased violence and are forced to travel greater distances searching for ever scarcer resources. Drought-stricken land and rising seas are forcing millions to flee. And violence escalates as people desperate for resources fight over what remains.
We acknowledged our sin and yet we celebrated because we are not without hope. The Risen Lord, Jesus the Christ, is our hope. Following Jesus and living in a compassionate relationship as his disciples with all creation makes the impossible possible.
We anticipated that God's grace would empower our eyes and ears to open as we worshipped and prayed together. We prayed to understand the reality of creation care and the impacts of climate change on God's children. We prayed and called upon God to transform our hearts and to call us into action to do the greater things Jesus promises for all his followers. God's grace and manifest presence was evident. We waited in silence upon the Lord. Sisters and brothers in the Lord reported that their lives and understandings were deeply impacted. Hundreds of challenging personal commitments were made and written out. We will be posting these in the future, along with videos of the sharings by Chris Wright and others that were delivered over the course of the morning.
Tens of thousands of pastors, churches, prayer leaders and individuals across the U.S. and around the world received Global Day of Prayer notices and links to the Prayer Points, written in a way so that we can continue to use them throughout the year. Multitudes participated individually or corporately.
Again, "Thank you!" Please continue to participate in the great wave of climate concern, prayer and concerted action that is mounting across the U.S. and around the world. There is room for everyone on the EEN Team. To receive periodic CreationCare Prayer Alerts just email email@example.com. Become a Creation Care Champion! You are invited to participate in the new Creation Care Teaching Institute monthly conference calls. Equip yourself and network with others in your region. For more information just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books and resources by our Prayer Breakfast speakers, as well as the April, 2012 edition of Creation Care magazine, PRAYERS FOR AUTHENTIC FAITH, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE, are readily available at www.CreationCare.org
Mitch Hescox - President, Evangelical Environmental Network
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)
From the Salvation Army UK
Blessed Earth is an educational nonprofit that inspires and equips Christians to become better stewards of the earth. Through church, campus, and media outreach, we build bridges that promote measurable environmental change and meaningful spiritual growth.
Position: The Director of the Seminary Stewardship Alliance is responsible for implementation of the program as determined by the Executive Director and senior team of Blessed Earth. This person is responsible for leading the development of the specific tactical plans needed to meet the strategic vision.
by John Humphreys
It was an easy winter in the North-East. A few minor snowfalls - an inch or so - and tons of sunny days. And we have entered spring with some marvelous weather too.
But we were dreading what winter might have in store when, last October 29th, an ice storm of great ferocity came through, tearing down trees right, left, and center. Our prettiest trees, two Bradford Pears that had been planted when the house was first built, were literally rent limb from limb, to make the front yard look like a mythical giant had sat on both. The lawn was full of branches! And the power was off for over 24 hours (yes, I know, we had it easy). On the news, all I could see were trees down, and a lot of them seemed to be that species of pear, whose branches snap rather than bend when laden with snow or ice.
Over the subsequent months, our development was filled with the sound of chainsaws, tidying up.
And now the spring, and how to replace these trees? Well, we liked the feeling of openness, but I needed something. The challenge is digging deep enough holes for replacement plants " even when the stump is ground down, there are an awful lot of dead roots to navigate around. One tree was replaced with some nice low conifers and a dogwood (attractive year round with flowers, berries, and glistening red bark). The other spot needed more thought " at least one flowering tree was called for and I wanted something native (attracts more wildlife) and something that worked hard for the garden. Service berry (Amelanchier) was the obvious choice for me in Pennsylvania " beautiful flowers, berries for the birds, and autumn color.
(Amelanchier grandiflora picture by Kurt Stüber)
I have another hole ready dug for a native oak - just have to find a nursery that can get me one that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
Winter, spring: death and renewal. Easter being in the spring makes the agony of the Garden and the Cross transmute into the joy of the Resurrection all the easier. And the more wildlife-friendly plants you pour into the garden, and the fewer pesticides you use, the more joyful Nature will be.
Fill the air with birdsong: O all ye fowls of the Air, bless ye the Lord: praise Him, and magnify Him for ever.
You can follow more of John's writings at http://wildlifegardening.org.
by Mitch Hescox
Luke 5:36-39 (NIV)
He told them this parable: "No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, 'The old is better.'"
Several years ago, Bill Easum wrote, Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers. Bill's take: those already in the church like to control and operate in a way that is comfortable, stable, and fits nicely in their way of doing things. The book highlights the truth that every pastor or organizational leaders knows all too well: No one likes change. Our ease with current praxis aids our rationalization that what we are doing is correct, accurate, and in the case of the church, sacred. Simply, our love of routine and comfort deludes our quest for truth and ultimately our own openness to accountability or correction.
Our way translates into the "right way" regardless of the changing culture, new revelations, or understandings that are more accurate. At the local church level, some may wonder why Grandma Sarah is no longer "good enough" to staff the nursery instead of a trained staff member, or even volunteer who undergoes background checks and proper security procedures. These new procedures are required in a world where even church leaders have failed our children.
Far too often, we dream of the "good-old days" that nicely fit into our perception instead of reality, hence Jesus' comments.
Jesus rocked the religious and cultural powers in his day. He didn't "fit" their various perceptions of Messiah or especially the Kingdom of God. This doesn't mean that their original precepts were wrong. As human history depicts so well, it's easy to transform our good intentions into idols.
Our predisposition to "old wine" demonstrates why so many in the evangelical church openly resist many of the Christian social justice issues hotly debated in today's world. These issues become culture wars as they force us to consider how to press new wine versus the old vintage. The new wine presses us to reconsider our models, lifestyles, and understanding of the good news in Jesus, and perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than the reaction of some to climatechange.
No one denies that cheap and abundant energy transformed the United States into a world power. Our inexpensive energy fueled a national sense of independence and self-reliance. Fossil fuels provided the individual freedom to get in our cars and go anywhere. The creation of the rural electric-cooperative powered even the most remote household with cheap electricity. These societal advancements quickly transformed from a blessings to idolatry. We became dependent on fossil fuel, and our energy addiction foils Christ's goal for the common good. As with all addictions, they transform into self-interest idolatry. Our self-interest for cheap energy fails to account for all costs, especially those dumped upon our neighbors.
All over the world, our brothers and sisters in Christ cry, "Help!" As carbon pollution continues, food and water become more scarce, diseases spread, and millions are forced to flee as the temperatures increase, storms become more intense, oceans levels rise, and violence exacerbates. The Cape Town Commitment, produced through the Lausanne Movement (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott), provides a good place to start hearing their cries. Hundreds of thousands die each year because of climate change, millions upon millions suffer, and it will only get worse unless we transform. Simply put climate change is the great moral challenge of our generation; we will response or keep drinking the old wine?
Just as the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jesus' day kept pouring the old wine, many today continue offering the same drink. As always, it's easier to remain the same than change. Is that faith? Please don't allow fear " fear of change, fear of science, fear of government, fear of anything to be your deciding factor. Instead, allow faith and hope to be your guide.
I can't speak for each of you, but I choose the new wine. In this season of Easter encountering Jesus on my Emmaus Road remains my hope. If we allow ourselves to be transformed by Jesus, then live as good stewards, and care for "least of these," Jesus' will lead us to an abundant life for all creation. Let's not place our trust in "old wine" "it quickly sours, but eat the bread and drink the new wine, they are Christ's promises for abundant life.
by Alexei Laushkin
I was walking along the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail in Northern Virginia a few years back and all around me I was surrounded by miles and miles of bluebells and two themes stuck with me. In the height of spring there is a real and genuine renewal of creation.
Yes, it is still under the curse but there is a beauty and consistency that comes with spring. It is a poor foreshadow of new life, but it is glorious and delightful all the same. It makes you realize how we have underestimated the glory and beauty of Christ when we hardly can even appreciate the creation that was made for him and by him.
I came back from this joyous weekend and was struck by something else. We often think of the Garden of Eden story as man centered, which in many contexts is very appropriate. Here's what I mean by that though. When we think of being in the garden with God we think about us and maybe we think about God but mostly we think about us. We try and grasp and grapple with what a state of perfection, a state free of sin must have been like. As well we should, but we are missing something truly awe inspiring about our Lord.
God planted the garden:
"When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up"for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground" then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed" (Genesis 2:5-8).
The Lord prepared a place for us to live and thrive. He prepared a garden and was its perfect care taker. He made us in his image and said here steward in my place. Take dominion. Rule as I would rule and let's see what happens. The tragedy is that we've made a mess of it not by our industriousness or creativity but by our selfishness our inward bent. God banished us from the garden and cursed the land.
And in our sin, we have tried to fill our hearts with the bounty of this earth and have left the creation burdened, groaning with us in our bondage to sin.
Thank God, Christ came. The Lord Jesus Christ who is sufficient to save. God has given us every blessing and spiritual gift in Christ Jesus. He is our sufficiency our righteousness.
If you want to be a good steward, look to Christ. If you want to tend creation, look to Christ for by the Spirit, the lusts and sins of our inner heart will be exposed. Sit at his feet let him teach you and show you a new His intention for all that he has made.
It's Saturday morning, April 7, 2012, a day of waiting, reflecting, and wondering. As I prayed through the Good Friday Scriptures, the words shouted by the Jewish hierarchy at the end of Jesus' trial kept rattling through my mind, "We have no king but Caesar." In one brief angry scream, religious leaders reject God's sovereignty and the covenant established on Sinai, in favor of political expediency, and perhaps the fear of losing their own power.
Are we, the American evangelical church, in danger of the same, or have we already crossed the line and proclaimed another king over Jesus? Make no mistake I truly thank God for living in a nation so blessed as the United States. However, while being a patriotic American, America is not my first loyalty. Jesus is! Yet, I look at the overt political positions offered by so many Christian leaders and I wonder, "Who is their king?"
Christians should be active in politics; it's our system of government. However, we need a spiritual reality check. Do we select our positions based on a philosophy, ideology, power, or discipleship? Are our political decisions based on what'sbest for God's Kingdom or us? As I see it, no political party truly reflects Christ's Way. Just as humanity lives in a fallen world, so do our institutions and organizations. Our Christian voice should speak into all parties with a clear biblical voice grounded in Christ's love without partisanship. Jesus calls us to a new way, a Kingdom Way, following our Risen Lord and using our gifts and graces for His glory and not our self-interest.
As we await the Paschal Celebration, Easter, it's time for a reality check. We have a choice. Will we shout that partisan politics of either party as king or we will proclaim Jesus our Risen Lord, King of creationand our lives? Tomorrow when we affirm,"He is risen!" let's believe it. May the grace of Our Risen Lord and the Holy Spirit's power transform us into a new people willing to be Jesus for the world.
We have no king but Jesus!
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
by Gary Bergel
HOLY WEEK - From its own posture of "Hosanna," creation responded to Christ's entry into Jerusalem. Flowers sang their multi-hued praises. Palm fronds and willow branches "clapped their hands." (Isaiah 55:12) Jesus declared that if the disciples and masses had been silent, then the rocks would have cried out. All of creation waits for its release from corruption and death too. It groans and "stands on tiptoe," as J. B. Phillips phrased it in his translation of Romans 8:22.
"He answered, 'I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.'" Luke 19:40 ESV
Holy Week should prompt similar inner dynamics in us: a deep yearning for greater freedom in every area of our lives; to live free from even the "power of cancelled sin," as Charles Wesley put it. A heightened desire, a "standing on tiptoe" to live a crucified life in Christ, to willingly embrace our own crosses---where the will of God crosses our own carnal demands and desires---to know more of Christ's death and resurrection working in us!
"By the punishments, by the whippings, by the bleeding wounds, by the piercings, by the crushing, we are healed!" (Isaiah 53:4-6) This is a week to reflect upon the Passion of our Savior - to try to grasp the suffering and full price that Christ paid for the rebellion, transgression and iniquity of the human race - the price he paid in full for our sin.
"See, my servant.... his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness---so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him." Isaiah 52:13-15
Isaiah 53, the prophetic chapter pointing to Messiah as "Suffering Servant" rather than "King," is still not commonly read in Jewish synagogues.
Prayerfully read, reflect and meditate upon the whole of ISAIAH, Chapter 53.
Gabe Lyons of the Q, a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good in society, sits down with Mitch to talk about the mercury, creation care, and much more.
Don't miss this excellent conversation.
"Jesus said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.'" (Mark 1:17)
This is the week we put it all together. We begin to integrate the work the Lord is doing in our hearts, in the world, and to sustain and care for his creation. Here are some simple ways to integrate faith and compassionate stewardship works in your daily life.
Practice Contemplatio / Contemplation " Restive and reflective listening and enjoyment of God. Free yourself from your own thoughts. Surrender all that is stirring. Make a "to do" list if you need to and be done with it. Sit still, rest in gratitude for God and his Word. Adore the Lord, invite and become attentive to his transforming presence within you. Enjoy him. Rise and carry Christ out into your community.
© Xavier Marchant " Fotolia.com
Jesus said to his disciples: "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me." (John 9:4)
1 April: Consider becoming a creation care champion through the Creation Care Teaching Institute
2 April: Consider starting a small group on the care of God's creation. You can use our free resources at http://creationcare.org. Where even two or three gather in Jesus' name, he is in their midst in his authority and power. (Matthew 18:20)
3 April: Inform yourself, take a stand, be an advocate for policies to honor God and care for His creation. Learn more at http://creationcare.org/
4 April: Intercede for those who experience the worst aspects of climate change and environmental degradation. Pray for the growing number of climate orphans and climate refugees. Learn more and "Pray the News" at http://prayerforcreationcare.org
5 April: Host a local church or community event introducing others to biblical creation care. Learn more by contacting us at email@example.com.
6 April: Set aside some time to consider what might be done locally for the renewal of the church and to reach the lost and suffering through biblical creation care. Pray that local church facilities be renovated to become more energy efficient.
7 April: Ask the Lord to take your time and talents and use them for work in the kingdom in a wide range of possible fields of compassionate stewardship, taking the gospel to the lost, programs of sustainability and conservation.