Earth Day Should Be Everyday

This past Monday, I watched the evening news and the fact that April 22 was Earth Day came to the fore in the last thirty seconds of the broadcast, almost an afterthought. The Supreme Court was taking up a state law cracking down on the homeless, the trial of the former President began in Manhattan, there was some big basketball news as I remember it, and major university campuses were in an uproar of protests, the likes of which the nation hasn’t seen since the Viet Nam War. Earth Day? There wasn’t much room amid the national and international coverage for Earth Day 2024.

However, the news from our delegation to Peru this week has been quite startling. Rebecca Kirkpatrick sent this photo and wrote to those who are subscribed to her mission trip reports:  

Photo for 4.25.24 Small

After worship, they took us close by to see the impacts of dumping and pollution on the Chillón River. It is hard to describe how polluted the river is. A local factory had been dumping its waste directly into the river, and it is not unusual for folks all over the community to dump their trash directly into the river as it passes through the community. The activists from the church who took us along the river told us stories of their childhood when the river was clean enough to drink from. Some even recalled being baptized in that very river. Along the coast, it leads directly to the Pacific. As we walked along the river and eventually to the beach, we were overwhelmed by the pollution. Jed shared when we got there that it is considered the most contaminated beach in all of Latin America. It is hard to convey how much trash is on the beach, and photos don't really capture it.

While we may seem far removed from that riverside in Peru, evidence is growing that microplastics are invading human organs and our bloodstream. We’re not so removed after all.

In this season of Eastertide, which we are observing in worship each week, the images John’s gospel uses to describe the presence of resurrection are from nature. The fields of God’s sheepfold last Sunday and Jesus’ lovely image, “I am the Vine, you are the branches,” upcoming. Martin Luther, the great 16th-century reformer and theologian, said of Easter, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” We cannot separate the most basic promises of our faith from the natural world, from the glory and intended goodness of God’s creation.

Look at this picture from our church’s mission partner in Peru and join me in imagining that every day is Earth Day. Let’s make even deeper commitments to reduce our use of plastics and disposable waste. Together, let’s admit our complicity in polluting the earth. Together, let’s remember we cannot separate our faith from our practice, our mission from our mission partners in places like Peru. Together, let’s live more fully into our vocation as caretakers of God’s good earth.