The Green Sprouts blog first appeared two years ago on the Feast of the Epiphany. In our diocese, awareness of environmental issues and efforts to be better stewards of God’s creation have increased over the past two years. As we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany today and move into the weeks following Epiphany, we talk about Christ’s revelation to the world and about Jesus’ ministry of healing and reconciliation, and also about how we can help bring Christ's healing and reconciliation to the world.
If your parish has taken some steps to practice better environmental stewardship or to educate your parish or your community about environmental issues, if you have begun advocacy around an environmental justice issue or found ways to enrich your worship through connections to the natural world, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share what you are doing with other parishes in the diocese. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing how things unfold at St. Stephen’s as we apply for the GreenFaith Certification Program and, if our application is accepted, begin doing the work to complete the program and become designated as a GreenFaith Sanctuary. (See the 10/14/10 post New Green Opportunity for Parishes for more about the program.)
Meanwhile, as we celebrate Epiphany, remembering the wise men following the star and Christ being revealed to the world, the last paragraphs of that first Green Sprouts post articulated some of the reasons for us to pay more attention to God’s creation and to be intentional about caring for the environment:
People who pay attention to the sky, the changing seasons, the incredible variety of life on our planet Earth, often experience joy and wonder and wholeness. Spending time outdoors paying attention to God’s creation leads us to open our hearts in gratitude. We don’t need to be able to name these experiences as ‘God’ for them to have a deep effect on us, and for us to know they point to something more. Those of us who do use traditional religious language describe such experiences as ways to connect with God. Being outdoors and taking the time to look around and listen is one of the most accessible doors or openings to the Holy. Such experiences not only give us a sense of God’s presence, but they often change us in profound ways.
As we talk about the light of the Epiphany star and connect it to the light of Christ in the world, the hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere are slowly increasing. On the plains, the angle of the sun and the weather conditions on some days combine to produce beautiful colors in the sky at sunrise and sunset. Cold, clear nights result in starry skies that make it easy to imagine following a special star night after night to see where it leads.
Launching this blog seems to me like a fitting way to mark the Feast of the Epiphany. Environmental issues directly affect the traditional social concerns of the church such as poverty, disease, hunger, and social justice. During Epiphany, the Church talks about bringing Christ to the world, about revealing Christ’s power to bring healing and wholeness. To bring Christ to a world where environmental issues have come to be understood as fundamental to all our economic, social, and political concerns, the Church needs to bring these issues into the center of our conversations and our work.