Thinking Out Loud

December 13, 2009

The Gospel of Environmentalism

“Earth is a primary, man is a derivative.”

It was one of the great lines we remembered from our visit to a local United (as in United Church of Canada) church many, many years ago; a moment somewhat overshadowed minutes later however when the children’s church worker not only “misplaced” our then two-year-old son, but claimed he had never been in the room to begin with.   After a few very panicked minutes we found him wandering around another part of the building.

Today we decided to visit to see if we would leave with a better impression all these years later.

Instead, nothing has changed.

The message of environmentalism somehow got intertwined with the advent of Christ’s coming;  it was more Unitarian than United;  our response to the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change dominated what our response should be to Jesus.

But the one that really got me was that former Vice President Al Gore and Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki were proclaimed as prophets and placed on an equal footing with Zephaniah, whose text formed the basis of the morning’s homily.     (“I will assemble the nations” in verse 8 of chapter 3 was paralleled to the event in Copenhagen.)

Reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn has given me an enhanced perspective on how we need to care for the environment.   Evangelicals dropped that agenda years ago and are realizing that sometimes the so-called “social gospel” actually is the gospel.   We’re emphasizing texts wherein caring for the earth and its people is honoring to God; texts that had been set aside for those which favored acts of proclamation.

But the main message at Christmas — the one no church can afford to miss — is found in Paul’s words in I Tim 1:15

15-16Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy.  [The Message]

For the people who are faithful to this particular congregation, what they experienced this morning is church.   And there was one reference to the concept of incarnation.   But the major takeaway was the environment.     Earth is a primary.   Man is a derivative.

Imagine going to church at Christmas and Jesus isn’t there.

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