Friday, March 7, 2014

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014 
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice
Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 
Grace and hope abound! Yet now particularly, there is a need for Advocacy for eco-justice!  During this Lenten season and through Earth Day Sunday (the first Sunday after Easter), PEC invites you to join us in sharing a series of Lenten reflections.  We invite you to engage in discernment, then re-engage in action- oriented measures toward caring for Creation. Isaiah 58 is our scriptural base, taken from a lectionary reading for Ash Wednesday.  Thanks to all who partake in this Lenten series and know that "the lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail." (Isaiah 58:11) 

Diane Waddell, Moderator, PEC 

Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. (Isaiah 58:4)

“Briefly put, Lent is like an ellipse: It is a single entity with a double focus. The Forty Days are
(a) a time for a probing consideration of our human condition, including sin and its deadly consequences for both individuals and society, and
(b) a time for an equally intense consideration of the new possibilities offered to us in Jesus Christ and their implications for practical living." [1]

In this Lenten season, we are called to reflect on the quarrels that are having consequences for our society, for they have the potential to harm our relationship with God. We are living in a culture that does not worship the common good. We worship the gods of economic growth and individual self-interest. In our political sphere there is little agreement on anything. If anyone wins from our political arguments, it is big business and not the individuals who need the circle of protection that government can provide.

In the pursuit of economic growth, God’s creation seems to be suffering. But the quarrels are very complicated. Fracking can cause harm to the earth and to God’s people. Yet there are quarrels that say fracking is making us energy independent, which makes our society safer. And if you Google ‘Presbyterian churches gas and oil lease’ you will find that churches who own land in areas of gas and oil drilling are leasing their land for drilling, you will find that Presbyteries have policies for churches who plan to lease their land, and you will find camps that negotiate to have pipelines built on their property. Some may quarrel that gas and oil drilling harms God’s creation. They quarrel that we need to find different sources of energy. However, those that lease their property are using the revenues to further the mission of God’s church and to enhance the Christian camping experience. In some ways this is a quarrel between our responsibility to tend and serve God’s creation and our desire to grow God’s church deep and wide. Some churches allow cell phone companies to lease their steeples, a resource that they have, to fund ministries that their membership is not able to fund. The churches that are leasing their property to oil and gas companies are doing the same thing. Should they be able to use their resources to further God’s church?

These are not easy quarrels. May we use this Lenten season to consider together new possibilities that will allow churches to tend and serve God’s creation and to grow God’s church.
Dear Lord, we are quarreling over how to tend and serve your creation and your church. Help us in this Lenten season to listen to each other. Give us the gift of seeing all of the possibilities and the gift of wisdom to make good decisions. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Sue Smith is the Treasurer of Presbyterians for Earth Care. She is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Rumson (NJ). Sue is a GreenFaith Fellow and a student at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.


[1] Laurence Hull Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996), 80.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Sue. Time to suspend judgment, open our hearts and let go to let come. Not an easy path, but everything is at stake.