A Lenten Devotional by Presbyterians for Earth Care 2012
Scripture – Psalm 84:1-4
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.
The most famous landmark in Rio De Janiero is Christ the Redeemer statue that stands atop Corcovado Hill. The Hill itself is over 2310 feet high. This statue of Christ, recently named one of the Seven Wonders of the World, embraces the city with his outstretched arms rising 30 meters into the sky from the top of the hill. To the world the statue may have many meanings: The victory of Christianity over the pagan native inhabitants; the supremacy of Christ over all the lesser gods people worship in the valley below; the presence of the suffering Christ who watches over the suffering of the millions of poor Favella dwellers in this city of contrasts.
What I discovered on a recent visit to this “marvelous city” is that the immediate surroundings of this statue of our Lord is Tijuca Park, the largest urban forest in the world. Home to 30 waterfalls, hundreds of plants and trees and at least 100 different animal species, the park actually reduces the medium temperature of the city by approximately nine degrees.
This 8000 acre rainforest was once stripped bare of its native vegetation by coffee and sugar cane plantations. Replanted over ten painstaking years by engineer M.G. Archer, Tijuca National Park was the result of the project which began in 1861. Concerned that the erosion and deforestation caused by the sugar and coffee plantations combined with a dramatic decrease in rainfall in the area would severely reduce drinking water available to his subjects, the Portuguese King Don Pedro II began the reforestation of the area. A tribute to his ecological mind, Tijuca National Park is one of the last few remnants of the Atlantic Rainforest that at one time dominated the Southern coast of Brazil.
Prayer - Holy One, as we contemplate the outstretched arms of the Christ the Redeemer statue, we know that it represents the actual redemption of a very real piece of God’s creation from the destruction wrought by the hands of humanity. We know that the living Christ is at work through our hearts and hands. Continue, as we fast in sorrow for what human hands have done and are doing to Your creation, to give us the feast of hope for, not only, the rain forests of Brazil but for the entire world.
Rev. Fred Milligan is an At-Large member of the PEC Steering Committee, where he chairs the Membership and Fundraising Committee. He also serves as a member of the Steering Committee of the Presbyterian Eco-Stewards program and its liaison with PEC. Fred currently serves as Interim Pastor, Head of Staff of The Presbyterian Church of Traverse City, Michigan.