From the Pastor's Desk...
OUR SAVIOR’S SHARED JOURNEY
When I was a kid, the term “May Day” had two meanings. One came from the old war movies, when a ship or airplane was in trouble, they would radio to someone… ANYone… for help: “May day! May day!”
Then, on the first day of the 5th month of the year, our grade school teachers taught us we were supposed to take baskets of flowers to our elderly neighbors or grandparents (May Baskets) for “May Day.”
It is an interesting dual set of meanings. I checked the dictionary (yes, a real one with pages and everything; I love a good dictionary that tells you where the words come from!) and the “international radio-telephone signal used by airplanes and ships in distress” comes from a French phrase that sounds the same as (m’aider) “help me.”
This spring, those two meanings have come into a blended meaning for me. As the natural world around us refreshes itself again, re-grows and re-news in the annual cycle, more and more of that nature seems to be calling out to us in distress: “m’aider; help me! Mayday on this May Day!”
The witness of Genesis, the first book of the stories of God’s interaction with humanity, is that it is our business to be caretakers, stewards, of this earth. The waters and air, the land and all its life are entrusted to us. That trust comes with the promise of abundant blessings. It also comes with the call for deep responsibility.
When you merge that call of God with the reminder of God to care for the poor, the wounded, to minister with loving and living service to the “least of these” (Jesus in Matthew 25:31-43) you have a discipleship ethic that ought to result in a careful cultivation of life in the world in our care. It is often the “least of these” , the poor, the refugees, the marginalized, who are most at risk and the most vulnerable to the destruction of our lands, air and waters. (It is important to be aware; Christianity is not the only spiritual path that emphasizes this kind of care for creation.)
So, if that is what our Creator intends, how is it we find so many ways to pollute, foul, destroy, maim, extinct, abuse, degrade, and exploit the earthly womb that is designed to give us life? Human sin is a powerful destructive force to be sure. Human sin manifested in greed and selfishness, love for money and disregard for the lives of others is indeed the root of much decay. But if the Lord who has saved us, calls us to serve this world, why do we fail? One of the most perplexing failures is how some of our brothers and sisters who claim allegiance to Jesus and the Bible are so certain that Jesus’ return will remove them from this worldly mess that they care little for the harm we cause. The dream of the promised “new heaven and new earth” seems to remove any sense of responsibility from the practices of these faith siblings, so that they support the politics and businesses that are the very worst exploiters of our common home.
There was a time when this congregation stood more forcefully in defense of our natural world. Our larger church, through ELCA Churchwide and almost every geographical Synod, has not lost that emphasis, constantly encouraging congregations and individual believers in practices and advocacy for the renewal and protection of our environment.
I urge us to re-join that journey as a community of faith. Our sisters and brothers of Zion Lutheran here in Cloquet have continued to seek creative ways to respond to the growing crisis and to encourage each other in vigorous action, practical and political, to keep creation care as a core focus of ministry and mission. Their current project establishing a “Community Garden” is one such emphasis. They have invited us to be active participants in this and other projects. Thrivent is a constant source of supportive funding. The Walk for Water, they invited us to join on April 30, is another example of the creative ways all of us can become more aware and active in our stewardship of this earth.
That is a growing journey I would dearly love to be on with you.