The environment is under siege, and it has been for a long, long time.
This April marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, a day to mark international peace that has evolved into the day Americans focus most on environmental issues. Combining the current political context and the anniversary, the stage is set for an emotional, activism-filled observation this year.
Coincidentally, Easter 2020 is on April 12, ten days earlier. Chalice Press annually publishes a Lenten devotional that concludes with Easter, and Leah Schade recognized the potential for a Lenten guide that connects our faith with our need to care for our planet.
Dr. Schade, a professor of preaching and worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky, is the author of Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015). An ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Schade digs in deep to our connection with the planet and engages creatively with the subject; she led a unique environmentally focused worship service at the Wild Goose Festival a few years ago.
“When I was a pastor in my first congregation,” Schade writes, “someone asked me a question in a Bible study: ‘How often does Jesus make references to nature in his teaching?’ I knew Jesus had made several references to aspects of Creation, but when I began reading through the Gospels I was surprised just how many times nature is referenced either by Jesus himself (over 50), or in the accounts about him and his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection (over 55). That question prompted me to compile a list of all these passages to share with the group. I’ve held onto that list for nearly twenty years, knowing I wanted to create some kind of devotional in the future.”
For the Beauty of the Earth, twenty years in the making, is available now, for use with a congregation, a small group, or on your own. As you read your way from Ash Wednesday through Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter morning, revisit those holy moments when faith and nature intertwine. But feel free to skip to the back, where you’ll find 50 ways to celebrate Earth Day. Some are individual practices, some call on a bit of prophetic action, but you’ll find several practices that will help you reconnect with your surroundings and your faith.
As winter and spring begin their annual transition, we hope you find ways to put For the Beauty of the Earth at work in your life and to share the good news – of our shared faith in resurrection, and of your work to protect our shared home – with the world.
Lent starts February 26. Order For the Beauty of the Earth today.