“Earth Day – The Fierce Urgency of Now”

Today, April 22, is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day with the Creation Justice Ministries’ theme:  

The Fierce Urgency of Now,  based on the Martin Luther King quote:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

As we pray for our world and our climate on this day, I invite you to read and consider the following excerpts, written by Shantha Ready Alonso who serves as Executive Director of Creation Justice Ministries … (creationjustice.org)

Each region of the country is feeling the climate crisis differently, but it has become hard to deny it is impacting us all. So often, people who did the least to contribute to our climate emergency are suffering the most. Yet, our public policymakers have been slow to respond, and most have not upheld their commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement. In fact, the United States is currently poised to be the only country in the world to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. …

A mere two months ago, collective, urgent global action for climate justice at the required scale seemed almost unimaginable. However, in the midst of the profound tragedy and suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic, I see a glimmer of hope. In response to an existential threat to our collective health and safety, it really is possible for people to dramatically change their individual behaviors, for businesses to shift their practices, and for policy-makers to take bipartisan collective action to address an existential threat. 

As our individual actions as well as public policies help “flatten the curve” of the virus’ spread, the challenge to transform society in the spirit of the Fierce Urgency of Now seems more possible than ever. Yes, in the midst of the collective action, greed, apathy and racism persist. The socioeconomic, gender, and racial inequities in the COVID-19 pandemic are heartbreaking. Yet, the inertia of the entrenched old systems are profoundly interrupted, and we are called to bring about something new. 

If we look back over the course of the last 50 years, there have been many milestones, including the passage of bedrock environmental laws, the naming and awakening to environmental racism issues, and the commitment to honor God’s creation in our prayers as well as actions. In 2030, I firmly believe that we will look back at 2020 as the definitive turning point in humanity’s relationship with the rest of God’s creation. 

In our 2020 Earth Day Sunday materials, we speak of this crucial decade-to-come as a kairos moment for God’s creation. In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus declares, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” The Greek word for time in this context is kairos, a term that signifies the fulfillment of the right action at the right moment. In the New Testament, the coming of Jesus is what the apostle Paul describes as the fullness of time. In this kairos moment for God’s creation, we are developing new awareness of God’s saving grace at work among and through us, for the redemption of all of creation.

We are honoring the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in a very unique moment. Most of us are confined to our homes. Some of us are experiencing intense personal challenges. Let us make this a transformative time, and find strength in individual as well as collective (virtual) prayer.