As we came around the last winding corner of the mountain pass, it was as if we were entering a whole other world. The mountains had been green, lush, and full of beauty and vibrancy. What was now staring us in the face was a devastating combination of dry and dusty, and a wall in the distance rapidly moving in our direction. The contrast could not have been more stark!
As we are all aware, the Western United States is experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime drought. The ramifications cannot be overstated. I was absolutely shocked when I first arrived at our little family ranch out West. The usual summer green pastures were a late fall dry brown, and many of the trees and bushes were already losing their foliage… all the makings for the perfect fire storm.
Over the last two weeks, more than 500,000 acres have burned in Washington State alone. Entire towns have been evacuated as the wind-whipped wall of fire took no mercy on forests, homes, and businesses. Like most disasters of this magnitude, you can’t really grasp the devastation until you see it firsthand.
In a few short weeks, the Episcopal Church in Minnesota will be gathering for our annual ECMN Convention. Our theme for both the Convention/Program Year and our Mission Opportunity is Engaging God’s Mission Through Engaging All God’s Creation.
In Eucharistic Prayer C (BCP 369) we pray these words:
“At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being.
From the primal elements you brought forth the human race, and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed your trust; and we turned against one another.”
The Fifth Mark of Mission (from the Five Marks of Mission developed by the Anglican Consultative Council between 1984 and 1990) is:
“To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”
Whether it be severe drought, extreme snow and cold, or flooding rains… there is no question that this “fragile earth” is experiencing unprecedented climate challenges. Unquestionably, some of this is, as one professor once said to me, “The ongoing birth-pangs of creation.” But it is also apparent to many that the human family has also played a part through our lack of good stewardship of God’s creation.
The invitation and the hope for this coming year across ECMN is that we will take a deep-dive toward even the smallest steps that each faith community, and each of us as individuals, can take to “safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth,” … for this fragile earth is our island home.