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Episcopal Church Environmental Officer on Earth Day 2010: “Our role here on God’s good earth is to be servants of creation.”

April 15, 2010

"Our role here on God"s good earth is to be servants of creation," offers Michael Schut, Economic and Environmental Affairs Officer of The Episcopal Church, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.

Presented in The Episcopal Church"s popular Sermons That Work series, Schut notes, "Following the celebration of Easter, Earth Day comes along. The timing, frankly, seems a little off. Those who proposed and celebrated the first Earth Day probably didn"t consult the Christian calendar. If they did, they may well have chosen to mark Earth Day during the season of Lent."

Schut, who served on the staff of Earth Ministry for 11 years, continues, "Earth Day needs to call us to a stance not unlike that of Lent: a day to reflect on how our own lives and our society"s economic practices impact God"s creation. A time to reflect on our own call in relationship to God"s creation, human and non-human."

He cites, "Species, expressions of God"s abundance and creativity and love, are going extinct at a rate not seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. They are disappearing at 1,000 to 10,000 times the ‘background rate" or natural extinction rate. Human activity, particularly habitat destruction, is the cause of such extinctions."

Schut points out that climate change is real, as strongly evidenced in other parts of the world. "Leaders of the Anglican Communion in the Philippines recently wrote the following in a letter to a justice network in the Diocese of Olympia: ‘A year ago, our own Bishop of our Diocese of North Central Philippines, Rt. Rev. Joel A. Pachao, said in a meeting with some of our foreign partners, "We are doing all these environmental stewardship programs so that you can continue to drive your SUVs." It was an expression of anger … over the fact that it is us in the so-called ‘developing … countries" who are suffering most from the effects of climate change which can be attributed to carbon … emissions, the bulk of which are from the western developed countries.""

Schut continues, "It starts to become clear why it seems like Earth Day belongs in the season of Lent, marked by repentance and humility. But isn"t there something missing here?

"Yes, there is; and it"s the fact that Earth Day can also be a day of profound celebration...of the beauty and goodness of God"s creation, all a gift. The great ecologist E.O. Wilson believes we are all lovers of that creation; we are hardwired, he says, to love life. He calls this ‘biophilia.""

He concludes: "So perhaps part of the really good news of Earth Day is that it offers the opportunity to heal our disconnection from that which we love so deeply. The distortions of who and what we are will begin to heal; we will reunite with that innate biophilia; no longer will we quiet the song of another species, or of a babe in arms. The angels and all the creatures surrounding the throne depicted in Revelations will be healed and proclaim praises in full voice."

Schut"s full sermon is here:

Resources for Earth Day

Episcopal Church Environmental Ministries:

Episcopal Public Policy Network environment stories:

Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN)

National Council of Churches:

White House Earth Day:

Sermons That Work

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Nancy Cox Davidge
Public Affairs Officer