‘Tis the season of red: red hearts, red candy, red cards, red bows, red boxes of chocolates…all for Valentine’s Day. I love red as much as the next person, but when it comes to how followers of Jesus show love, I believe green is the new red.
In the church we know green as the color of growing in Christ, of maturing in faith. It’s the color of Ordinary Season–the weeks between Advent and Lent, and between Easter and Advent.
Green has another meaning as well. It’s also the color of sustainability, eco-friendly practices, and environmental awareness. Both the ecclesiastical and the ecological meanings are deeply intertwined.
They’re so deeply intertwined that I don’t think we can grow in Christ and mature in our faith without taking an active interest in the health and vibrancy of the Creation too. Why do I say this? The Creation is the general revelation of God, revealing God’s own nature. (Romans 1:20) We have been given dominion over it and asked to be caretakers of it. (Genesis 1-2). So wiping it out is like erasing God’s own imprint on the planet. Not a good idea. Christ himself is the firstborn of all Creation, through whom all Creation has been made. (Colossians 1:15). We have a responsibility toward it, as much as toward one another. That’s why I say green is the new red.
I want to share with you five things to start doing to green your love of God and one important thing to stop doing immediately.
Start Doing: Incorporate awareness of the Creation in Worship
When we gather to worship God we are joining our voices with the majestic choir of creation. Just as we humans gather to praise God through song, liturgy, sermon and communion, so the creation offers its praise to God, too. The psalmists write that the earth rejoices, the coastlands are glad, the trees clap their hands, and the heavens and earth praise God.
Sing: So many of the traditional songs of the church lift up creation. Sing them!
Pray: Ask for God’s wisdom in how to fulfill our role as stewards of the Creation. Focus on different aspects of the earth weekly such as different animals, rivers, forests, oceans, beaches, soil, and sky. Use your prayers to affirm positive advances being made.
Children’s sermon: Teach children about our interconnectedness with nature. Jesus told stories incorporating sky, sheep, goats, birds, flowers, mountains, and fields. So can we!
Sermon: Develop a yearly series on our deep relationship to the Creation. Incorporate the new four-week Season of Creation into your liturgical calendar. It highlights the work of God the Creator and the wonders of creation.
Observe Earth Sabbath or Environmental Sabbath, a worldwide ecumenical day of reverence for the earth around June 5, World Environment Day. Gather with other congregations in your area to hold an interfaith service. Consider patterning your service after the United Nation’s Environmental Sabbath Programme.
Holy Communion: Recognize Christ as the firstborn of all creation, our oneness with him, and by extension, our unity with creation.
Stop Doing: Thinking It’s Too Hard
All of us live on one planet. We all share the same water, air, earth, and sky. God would not give us something to do that we are not capable of. Read the Green Bible (NRSV) to get grounded in the Word in a new way. Start a Green Team. Read Green Church with your friends. Or simply begin with a prayer for courage. Just don’t say it’s too hard! Love always wins. Especially if it’s green.
Adapted in part from 7 Simple Steps to Green Your Church, by Rebekah Simon-Peter, (c) copyright 2010.