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Pacific The Day The Earth Shook And The Ocean Erupted

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
APRIL 21, 2011

The day the Earth shook and the ocean erupted

April 21, 2011

Mardi Tindal - THE STAR, Toronto

Paul Lachine / Newsart - Earth Day
Paul Lachine/Newsart

The Earth shook and split open last month. The ocean erupted in a giant wave. It wasn’t the first time the landscape of our world has been changed. The fissures and floods come too often these days, but still we respond with urgency.

Prayers and emergency supplies make fast flight to communities of Japan, New Zealand, Bolivia, Brazil, Australia, Pakistan, China, Chile and Haiti. We harness the best of ourselves and our technology to bring relief and begin rebuilding — healing the scars left on the landscape.

Healing the heart takes longer. Both those at the epicentre of tragedy and those of us on its edges suffer with anxiety and the persistent worry that the Earth itself is suffering. Deep down, we wonder where hope can be found.

Because Earth Day and Good Friday fall on the same day this year, Christians will be holding the suffering of the Earth and our grief over Jesus’s suffering together in our hearts. Interestingly, the words “core” and “heart” share the same Latin root, and we, like the Earth, have been shaken to our core. On Easter Sunday, we will be reminded of where hope is found.

Some see these things, the physical restoration of the Earth and the healing of the heart, as separate. Equally, some see a tension between science and faith. I see two interrelated domains, rational and spiritual, both gifts of God, equally necessary for healing and wholeness.

On this Earth Day, I hope Christians and all people of faith and goodwill will pay heed to the science of global warming, and take heart for the healing of the Earth.

Christians learn that at the moment of Jesus’s death, the Earth shook, and the rocks split. Jesus’s friends, troubled and confused, returned to their homes. They had glimpsed in Jesus a new way of life. Without him, they thought their reason for hope was dead, their new life impossible.

But it wasn’t. By remembering Jesus, and knowing the living Christ, disciples find the courage to live in the way he taught. Even without him physically at our side, a community of hope and faith is re-formed.

Members of all faith traditions care deeply about the suffering of the Earth. Painful events that cause death and bruise souls may tempt us to think that hope is lost, but this is not our option as people of faith.

We are people of hope and life. We accept our responsibility for the care of creation. We bring a song of hope and humility to the unvarnished prose of scientific fact, so that broken hearts can take heart together, and together we can choose life over death.

We are inspired by those giving their lives for the sake of others, taking on life-threatening work inside a Japanese nuclear plant for the sake of life outside it. There are others, less dramatically, showing the courage to change today for the sake of their children’s lives tomorrow. There are churches, synagogues, mosques and temples making dramatic changes to properties and buildings, aware that 40 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. Many call for legislation that would see Canada keep our emissions reduction commitments to the world.

According to science, our atmosphere must return to 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide if life is to continue as we’ve known it. This is an achievable goal — if we don’t turn away.

It is not the job of faith to argue with science. Faith can embrace the fruits of our God-given intellect and work with the best science available, in the service of life. It is our job as people of faith to flavour science with hope.

For Christians, this weekend represents an intense movement from the anguish of Good Friday to the joy of Easter Sunday. On Sunday we will take heart and embrace life again.

We will not abandon hope. Every faith tradition participates in what is life-giving. Now is the time for all of us to pray and act together for the sake of life.

Earth Day 2012 will coincide with the third Sunday of Easter. I pray that between now and then voices of faith and voices of science will crescendo in a song of healing for the Earth.

Mardi Tindal is Moderator of the United Church of Canada.

source: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/edit...the-day-the-earth-shook-and-the-ocean-erupted
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