A thought came to me yesterday – Earth Day is becoming bigger than Easter Sunday! As a clergy person and one for whom Easter has always been supremely important, spiritually fundamental, this is a rather large admission to make! Yet I think it’s true, at least as far as our larger Canadian and perhaps global society is concerned.
I remember one Earth Day, perhaps ten years ago, which happened to fall right on Easter Sunday. In the weeks leading up to the big day(s) it was announced that the Town would be closing Banff Avenue downtown to allow for more family fun on Earth Day. I took this as an affront! Yet another of Secularism’s blatant assaults upon Christian tradition, in this case Easter! The road right in front of the church entrance (St. Paul’s P.C.) closed on Easter Sunday, of all days?! I later learned that in dealing with that very same situation on that same day, St. George’s in the Pines Anglican Church had decided to celebrate Earth Day at worship right alongside Easter. Much later on in life I learned that Earth Day, created by both secular and religious people, was in fact not anti-religious at all. Rather it exemplified, and still does, the very best of human nature in relation to the creation – honesty (what some might call confession), reverence for life, a sense of stewardship, and celebration of the gifts of creation. St. George’s had it right, I believe. As the Christian Church had done numerous times over the course of the last two thousand years, namely borrowing other religious festivals and holy days and making them their own (Easter and Christmas come to mind), so in this instance St. George’s viewed Earth Day as something Christians would be right to embrace, even on Easter Sunday.
This Sunday we will certainly embrace Earth Day at Rundle. We will celebrate God’s gift of creation, lament humanity’s abuse of the creation, and consider our duty, our calling, to care for, to be good stewards of, the Earth, which is our earthly home.
One of the benefits of living here in Banff is that we are inundated with constant reminders of our responsibility to take care of the earth. Trails are frequently closed to protect mother elk and their newborns, one must get permission from Parks Canada before cutting down a tree on one’s property, the Bow Valley Parkway is closed between 6 pm and 9 am between March and June for the sake of the animals, and people gather together for a party each spring to dispose of old bear spray bottles in an environmentally responsible manner. These are but a few examples of our community’s awareness of the delicate balance between human life and the rest of life on this planet, and the responsibility we are given (see Genesis 1:26-31) to be care for this wonderful earth!
God of life, God of creation, may we be ever mindful of not only your uninhibited love for us but also your gift of the created order. Inspire us to enjoy all of that which surrounds us here, to not take it for granted, to perceive your majesty and power as the Source of all that is, and to care for it, day by day, through our entire lives, for your glory. Amen.