Posted by: smstrouse | August 31, 2013

Green Jesus?

Was Jesus a tree hugger?


With all that’s going on in the world today – from the horror of the civil war in Syria and the drum beats of war pounding in our own ears to the personal issues we each face every day – that might not be the burning question on everyone’s minds

But as more and more churches are opting to observe the alternate “Season of Creation” in the months of September and October, we’re seeing a shift in our theological underpinnings. We are beginning to acknowledge that care for Creation is not simply a bunch of ‘politically correct’ practices, like recycling. Rather, it’s the overarching umbrella under which all of our political, communal and personal concerns reside. In other words, it’s not an add-on issue; it is THE issue.

Professor Theodore Hiebert from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, in a commentary on tomorrow’s observance of Ocean Sunday, hits the nail on the head. He’s writing specifically about oceans, but what he say applies to all areas of environmentalism:

“We now know more about the oceans than our ancestors did, and we must build a new theology and a new ethics about the oceans based on that knowledge. We now know that the sea is not a monster of chaos that threatens our lives but a huge living organism that originated life and that continues to sustain all life on earth. It can no longer be treated as God’s enemy that must be subdued, but as a part of God’s creation that gave us life and continues to make life possible for us.”

The Season of Creation is one way to bring a new theology and a new ethics into our religious lives. We can start by realizing that traditionally our theology, ethics and worship have been focused on our relationship with God and on our  relationships with one another (in other words, it’s all about us). There’s been no focus in the church year on God the Creator. The first article of  the creeds is awfully thin on the subject: no mention of God’s relationship with all creation and with our relationship with creation, and with God through creation.

The second article  jumps right into the saving work of Jesus. Which is fine. I just want us to understand that the Jesus we know and love is green. Now here is where some may balk. In a search of all the gospel stories, there’s no indication that Jesus was an environmentalist – no tree hugging in evidence.

However, as the website so brilliantly states:
“Christ is at the heart of our celebrations. The cosmic Christ is the new life at the core of creation. In the season of Creation we celebrate Christ together with creation, we face the ecological crisis with Christ, and we serve Christ in the healing of creation.”

That makes sense to me.  Jesus IS green. My life as a follower of Jesus must be green. My theology and ethics must be green. How then do I look at the problems of the world, as well as my own personal issues? In a different, organic, interconnected, interrelated way, to be sure.

Does this mean there are now easy answers to these questions? No. However, we can begin the discussion based on a new theology and a new ethics, which might go a long way in healing the world – and ourselves in the process.

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