Earth Day for Christians?
Climate Change? Environmentalism? Caring for creation? What does that have to do with being Christian?
From the very beginning, God gave us life. He gave us dominion over the earth and charged us to be good stewards of it.(1)
Since the first Earth Day rallies over 45 years ago, people have come together on April 22nd to share ideas on how to better care for the earth.
That first Earth Day was the spark that developed the Environmental Protection Agency and inspired groups across the country (and now the world) to work together to fight against pollution, toxic dumping, and to protect wildlife. Their efforts throughout the years have helped make our earth a greener, healthier place.
Does that mean we can participate in Earth Day events today and then turn around fill the landfill thoughtlessly tomorrow?
No, of course not. But for Christians, Earth Day needs to be about more than only environmentalism and climate change.
Christians Care for All
For Christians, Earth Day also needs to be about caring for ALL of God’s creation every day, especially the poor and the marginalized of the world.
As the body of Christ, our faith calls us to make effort to not only the protect the earth itself, but also those who live in great poverty, the disabled, the unborn, and the poor who are impoverished by those in political or economic power.
“There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory.”(2)
Although each year, Earth Day draws environmental attention and action on April 22, for Catholic and Orthodox Christians, environmental stewardship is also recognized on September 1st as “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.”(3)
Pope Francis established the day of prayer rather recently in August of 2015. He asks that we thank God for the gifts of the earth and to try to become better stewards of the creation God has entrusted to us.
On this day and throughout the year, we are asked to pray, ask forgiveness for our sins against creation and recommit ourselves to its protection.
“God gave us the earth “to till and to keep”(4) in a balanced and respectful way. To till too much, to keep too little, is to sin.” Pope Francis(2)
World Prayer Day for the Care of Creation Prayer
On September 1st and throughout the year, Pope Francis asks us to pray and reflect upon this prayer:
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
who are so precious in your eyes.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all
the creatures of this earth.
God of mercy, may we receive your forgiveness and convey your mercy
throughout our common home.
Praise be to you!
This short and simple prayer is packed with powerful words to help guide us to care for all of creation. It envelops the protection of the environment through the lens of “love for neighbor” and the whole of creation.
For Christians, Earth Day and caring for creation reaches far beyond a day of environmental awareness and activism. It extends to all of the creatures of the earth and all of our brothers and sisters who share it with us.
This Earth Day, let us pray Pope Francis’s prayer for creation and may we, through God’s grace, renew our efforts for the protection of all of creation with mercy, love, and hope!