Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pastoral Teaching on the Environment

While meeting in Quito, Ecuador, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church issued a Pastoral Teaching about the environmental crisis, saying:

We, your bishops, believe these words of Jeremiah describe these times and call us to repentance as we face the unfolding environmental crisis of the earth:
How long will the land mourn, and the grass of every field wither? For the wickedness of those who live in it the animals and the birds are swept away, and because people said, "He is blind to our ways." (Jeremiah 12:4)

This is a powerful document, bringing together Scripture, science, spiritual practices, and the Church's traditional concern for the poor and the suffering. It is something to read carefully (click here for the full document), something to pray, something to consider when choosing our actions in our daily lives in the world and in our private spiritual practices. It calls us to make changes on a deep level, to repent:

Our current environmental challenges call us to ongoing forms of repentance: we must turn ourselves around, and come to think, feel, and act in new ways. Ancient wisdom and spiritual disciplines from our faith offer deep resources to help address this environmental crisis. Time-honored practices of fasting, Sabbath-keeping, and Christ-centered mindfulness bear particular promise for our time.

This pastoral teaching will enrich the conversation about creation care for Episcopalians and others in the coming months and years. If we study it and act on it, we may indeed find the hope of this document fulfilled:

May God give us the grace to heed the warnings of Jeremiah and to accept the gracious invitation of the incarnate Word to live, in, with, and through him, a life of grace for the whole world, that thereby all the earth may be restored and humanity filled with hope.

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