Today’s Author: Julene Hawkins

When I was in college, I spent two semesters as a student intern at my campus ministry. During those semesters, we worked on sustainability projects in preparation for an upcoming service-learning trip to Costa Rica, one of the most environmentally conscious countries. As part of our fundraising, we gave a presentation at a local church on the ELCA’s social statement: Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice. As someone with ongoing environmental anxiety, I struggle at times to see that there is still hope to create a better tomorrow. The social statement was and is a helpful reminder that we are renewed by God to act for a better tomorrow and that there is still hope for restoration and care for all creation.

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

As we celebrate Earth Day tomorrow, I encourage you to read this excerpt from the social statement and reflect on the actions you feel most called to. Whether that be to incorporate small actions into your daily routine such as taking shorter showers or composting food scraps to feeding your neighbors with a community garden, know that you matter and that together we can and will create a better tomorrow.

III. The Hope

  1. The Gift of Hope Sin and captivity, manifest in threats to the environment, are not the last word. God addresses our predicament with gifts of “forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation” (Luther, Small Catechism). By the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God frees us from our sin and captivity, and empowers us to be loving servants to creation. Although we remain sinners, we are freed from our old captivity to sin. We are now driven to God’s promise of blessings yet to come. Only by God’s promise are we no longer captives of demonic powers or unjust institutions. We are captives of hope (Zechariah 9:11-12). Captured by hope, we proclaim that God has made peace with all things through the blood of the cross (Colossians 1:15-20), and that the Spirit of God, “the giver of life,” renews the face of the earth. Captured by hope, we dream dreams and look forward to a new creation. God does not just heal this creation wounded by human sin. God will one day consummate all things in “new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home” (2 Peter 3:13). Creation—now in captivity to disruption and death—will know the freedom it awaits.
  2. Hope in Action We testify to the hope that inspires and encourages us. We announce this hope to every people, and witness to the renewing work of the Spirit of God. We are to be a herald here and now to the new creation yet to come, a living model. Our tradition offers many glimpses of hope triumphant over despair. In ancient Israel, as Jerusalem was under siege and people were on the verge of exile, Jeremiah purchased a plot of land (Jeremiah 32). When Martin Luther was asked what he would do if the world were to end tomorrow, he reportedly answered, “I would plant an apple tree today.” When we face today’s crisis, we do not despair. We act.

(From the ELCA’s social statement: Care for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice).

God of all creation, continue to help us see your creation as a reminder of hope even in times when climate doom consumes us. Be with us as we seek action for improved climate policies, sustainable practices within our communities, and better awareness of our daily practices. God, we continue to pray for all those impacted by climate change and natural or manmade disasters. May we put our hope in you trusting that there is still time to act and create a better habitat for generations to come. We pray in your name, oh holy creator. Amen.

Mid-week devotions are authored by members of our community.  If you are interested in creating a trio of reflections to be shared on an upcoming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, contact Pastor Peter.