Virtual Earth Day 2020
Americans have been observing Earth Day for 49 years, since 1970 when 20 million Americans publicly protested the lack of environmental protections. Earth Day 2020, the 50th Anniversary on Wednesday, April 22, will be unlike any other. There will not be students protesting on college campuses nor hundreds of thousands gathering on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The streets will be empty, the parks will be quiet, few people will be seen. We will be observing the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day virtually – on our computers, cell phones, and ipads.
On Earth Day 2020, birds will be singing, trees and flowers will be blooming, the sun will be shining, clouds will be moving because God’s creation is alive as it always has been. Although we are told to stay home and wear face masks when we go shopping, we can still go outside and enjoy the beauty of the earth God has given us. Breathe in the fresher air because miles traveled by car and plane has decreased. Be mesmerized by a stream that is cleaner now since manufacturing is slower. Take the time you now have to discover the intricacies of a flower or the flight of a bird, the structure of a bare tree or the behavior of a squirrel. Revel in the awesomeness of creation that God has given to us for free.
As Presbyterians, we are called to recognize and accept “restoring creation as a central concern of the church, to be incorporated into its life and mission at every level”.* In response, PC(USA) recommends observing Earth Day Sunday at your church on April 19 or 26 or another time during the year.
Each year Creation Justice Ministries offers Christian educational materials for Earth Day. This year’s theme is the “Fierce Urgency of Now” and includes a version for Presbyterians. Additionally, Interfaith Power and Light organizes a Faith Climate Action Week, April 17-26, with worship resources including sermons, prayers, music, theater, and youth and children’s activities. There is also an advocacy toolkit that you can order through their website .
Be creative as you adapt these materials for virtual use. Think about asking members of your congregation to send photos of their favorite place in nature. Combine them into a slide show or video to show during your Earth Day Service. Or ask members to take a photo of themselves holding a sign that names their favorite part of creation – rainbows, butterflies, giraffes, waterfalls…
Grieve for what could have been, for those who are suffering, and lost loved ones.
God is still with us as we endure this pandemic and the earth will be here long after we are gone. We still need to take care of it.
* Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice, 1990 Policy Document