Fifth Sunday of Lent
The lack of physical description for the ‘new heaven and new earth’ makes it hard to envision exactly what this Holy City might look like. One thing is for sure, the new heaven and earth is God’s dwelling place, a space where the Lord brings comfort to the people removing death, mourning, crying, and pain. In this sense, there appears to be a change in consciousness as God removes fears that lead to such hurt.
This re-envisioning is precisely what ecofeminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether presents in her book New Woman, New Earth: Sexist Ideologies and Human Liberation (1975). After providing an introduction to Christian theology, ecology, and feminism by recognizing the interrelation between ideology and systemic oppression, Ruether encourages a change in consciousness by calling out patriarchy, hierarchy, inequity, and inferiorization. Such widespread oppressions like racism, sexism, and classism only get in the way when it comes to ushering in a new heaven and a new earth.
Given the heightened turmoil of the past few years, a brand new city is deeply needed, but when viewed within the lens of Ruether another question remains: What oppressions must we abolish in order to achieve this new heaven and new earth? In other words, what might the world look like if we were co-creators in this narrative? I would imagine this new world would be one that is free from fear, a place that strives to care for those who have been hurt, and most of all, a world in which oppression is obsolete. It’s a lot to tackle, but it is worth striving for.
As people of faith, we are our siblings’ keepers. Justice for others is justice for all. As we anticipate the resurrection of Easter Sunday, I hope we hold onto cultivating a world that is pleasing to God and free from fear— where the Lord can comfortably inhabit our society and dwell among all people.
Creator, this Lenten season, open our eyes to the injustices around us. May we begin to build the foundation for a world that is honoring and pleasing to you.—one that removes fear and values everyone. Amen
Vickie Machado is a leader with the Eco-Stewards Program, a grassroots community that shapes young adult leaders through place-based experiences that connect faith and the environment. She is also a PhD candidate studying Religion & Nature at the University of Florida where her research focuses on the role of religion and spirituality in water-based environmental movements.
Cloud photo by David Kepley