by the Rev. Watson Lamb, Chaplain, Chapel of the Holy Spirit, New Orleans
We are in the last couple of days of Advent, and the waiting is almost over. In just two days, we will celebrate God coming down to be an intimate part of creation in the form of a baby. As we approach Christmas day, it is an excellent time to reflect on Jesus, and what he came to do here on Earth. In a recent article in Time Magazine, N.T. Wright reminds us, again, that “Jesus embodied in himself the perfect fusion of “heaven” and “earth.” In Jesus, therefore, the ancient Jewish hope had come true at last. The point was not for us to “go to heaven,” but for the life of heaven to arrive on earth.”
If Wright is correct in his interpretation of what Jesus came to do, then an integral part of our life in Christ is to make sure that earth is a place where heaven can arrive. Care for creation is care for the Kingdom. No matter how small an act of care, the work is kingdom work. We take part in the coming of the kingdom when we plant a tree, pick up garbage, recycle, take public transit, make informed decisions about what we eat, cut off the lights, or implement one small move toward being better stewards of the environment. Martin Luther expressed this simple kind of kingdom work when he said: “Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would continue to plant my apple trees.” In other words, no matter what, care for creation is taking part in the Kingdom of God.
As the father of four kids, I admit that I am very invested in the future of our planet. If you are a science nerd like me and you keep up with environmental studies, it is somewhat unsettling to read the research on climate change and contemplate that we may very well reach an irreversible tipping point in the not too distant future. I do, however, have hope. I delight in the kingdom work of researchers who seek solutions to these problems. I am happy to see non-profits and NGOs who are working on sustainability and engaging our community to look at our environment in concrete and serious ways. I would be remiss not to mention Gretta Thurmburg and the children inviting us to be a part of the solution and not the problem. For many of us, the task may seem daunting, and we may not know where to start. We may be set in our ways, and we may not see how we can change or what we can change. However, the season of waiting is almost over, and it is, at the very least, time to take some baby steps.
I invite all of us, as we wait, just two more days, to pray about how we can be better stewards of the environment. Contemplate the incarnation and its implications for creation. Pray the prayer that Jesus taught us, and sit with those words, “Thy Kingdom Come, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Then, join in the work of the Jesus movement, which is the work of moving this world toward “the life of heaven arriving on earth.”
This is a series of Advent reflections written by members of the Environmental Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. Learn more about the Environmental Commission here.