Monday, April 24, 2017

Earth Day Liturgical Celebration - Upper Room, Albany, NY

On Sunday, April 23, Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, let the Earth Day liturgical celebration at the Upper Room. The first reading, In the Care of Eden, written by Lynn Kinlan is printed below along with Dennis McDonald’s homily starter.

First Reading: In the Care of Eden, by Lynn Kinlan:
The mountain sentinel, rising to a craggy summit with 360 degree insight, touches thin air where clouds dwell and raindrops first cover earth. Rising steep and majestic, a beacon for centuries, never boasting of a higher perspective.         

The stream, gurgling and spilling over rocks and around stands of trees, builds to a swelling river of living water, running to creatures large and small. Flowing with meandering aim to placid lake, pooling bay and vast ocean, willingly letting go and giving of self to something greater.

The pine tree, standing decidedly green, Jolting color into a bareskin winterscape of brown and white and gray. Reserving a table for the riotous party of spring and summer colors yet to arrive, standing serenely distinct, unafraid of being exceptional. 

Desert sand, baking in the stolid rays of a hard sun, sits undisturbed, undisturbing. Making up a vast, impenetrable sum greater than all the many granules, silent, gritty witness to eternity and stillness.

Rice paddies, lavender, truffles, chicory, corn fields, lupine and fig veranda; sown and wild, they flourish in heat and rain, light and dark, randomly and in rows. Growing, plucked or withered, they nourish, die and return in glory to renourish. 

Thank you, Beloved, for entrusting me into a diverse natural world that teaches and refreshes. Creation gives in lush measure so effortlessly, so heartily.  Enable me to look, listen and savor the lifespring gift of nature, steward of my life. Embolden me to return the loving care which it so richly deserves.

Earth Day Homily Starter by Dennis McDonald
Fr. Richard Vosko in his homily on Holy Saturday at St. Vincent’s said, “Human beings emerged out of a creative process that continues to evolve. It is not something outside ourselves. A faith that proclaims God as the progenitor of all creation also affirms that we are one with that divine Being and the cosmos.”
He continued, “For us, the traditional storyline is quite logical. God creates beauty. Humans deface beauty. Prophets imagine rehabilitation. God rescues humanity. Our role in this story is not only significant but urgent. With a broader cosmic perspective, we are better equipped to discover more reliable equations for repairing the world, particularly our environment and its inhabitants. Energy sources for all. Potable water. Bread for the world.”
These words are perfect to begin our reflection as we celebrate Earth Day which was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin after he watched the impact a massive oil spill had in Santa Barbara, California. His idea was to have teach-ins all across the country addressing water and air pollution and bringing environmental issues to the national stage.  April 22, 1970 saw 20 million people across the country raise their voices out of concern for the Earth. By the end of that year the Environmental Protection Agency was created and passage of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.  All this accomplished with bipartisan support in Congress. 

Over the years as we have become more cognizant of the damage that has been sustained on Earth, there has been a greater and greater need for voices to be raised in support of improved forms of energy like wind and solar, in support of protections for plant and animal life facing extinction, and for improved health and living conditions for people across the globe.  It is wonderful to engage in Earth Day every year on April 22nd, but it is not enough. We must be constantly vigilant in the protection of this planet we call home and all of creation that fills it.  There is a need for us, both individually and collectively, to take steps to protect and sustain all forms of life.

Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si” shares that, “Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has courageously and prophetically continued to point out our sins against creation. “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins.”
We have a moral responsibility to be co-creators with the Cosmic Christ protecting and affirming life.  Pope Francis shares in another section the need for an “interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity”. He admonishes Christians who ridicule and deny the reality of global warming, ecological damage, and threats to various species of animals, stating that they and all of us need an “ecological conversion, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”
I have provided today a list of 30 acts that can be taken by each of us to be part of the solution. These are not difficult acts to begin, they are steps we can take in our own home or in the decisions we make in our everyday lives. Some examples are reducing the time spent in your car, planning errands so you can do several during one outing, recycling your trash, promoting renewable energy, buying locally grown or raised food, spending less time in the shower or turning the water off when washing in the shower.  You can be more community-action minded by joining a local climate march, advocating for policies that promote renewable energy, divesting of investments in fossil fuel, or buying from companies that are moving toward renewable energy.
As we come to the Table of Thanksgiving today, let us commit to the affirmation of all life-forms on our planet.   Let us ask for the grace to “look, listen and savor the life-spring gift of nature, and to be “emboldened to return the loving care” to our common home, “which it so richly deserves.”
What did the readings say to you today, what might you be called to, what might it cost you?

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