Easter and the first Earth Day

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The Easter egg hunts are over and most of the chocolate bunnies have been eaten. The processionals and sunrise services have come and gone from that special Sunday. But the glory of Easter is not just a day, but it is a life. Easter joy continues to find expression through ordinary people loving God and sharing that love with others. It shapes who we are and how we live. The resurrection of Christ Jesus invites us to live with heavenly expectations, and is a call to serve in ways that affect our world today. Christ’s resurrection shows us the importance of mixing heaven and earth. The theological word for this is “Incarnation.” Seeing God’s divine Presence in all things, and all things in God, is at the core of Christian faith. Transformation of the heart, especially through contemplative practices such as Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, and mindfulness meditation, helps clear our vision. Easter joy is grounded in the heart and intended to flow into the world with blessings of love, peace, patience, justice, and mercy, just to name a few.

In many ways, Easter was one of the first Earth Days, as the stone rolled away and our world has never been the same. This Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day. Were you alive in 1970 when 20 million Americans rallied? This was such a large percentage of the population that it caught the attention of politicians and led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. This movement is observed year after year. First Presbyterian Church, which is designated an Earth Care Congregation within our denomination, will gather to work in the flower beds, tending the soil and helping the plants grow.

Just as Mary Magdalene was greeted by the Risen Lord “in the garden” that first Easter morning (she even thought Jesus was the gardener at first), quiet places of reflection, spaces of hospitality and peace are very important. First Presbyterian Church is in the process of transforming the church lawn into an outdoor sanctuary. The Peace Garden features the Peace Pole with a prayer written in 12 languages, along with a free library box, benches, and picnic tables for people working or visiting the downtown area. The Rotary Club of Sandpoint is partnering and will build a gazebo to provide a sheltered gathering space for musicians and conversations. A catering patio will help facilitate special events such as weddings and/or receptions. One of the main features will be a prayer labyrinth, an ancient pathway used for walking meditation and spiritual reflection.

Tending the garden and living with an attitude of earth care reflects love of God and neighbor through Christian environmental stewardship. God creates all there is, seen and unseen, and sustains them with power and grace. How one treats the earth is eventually how one treats other people. Choosing to live from God’s deep well of care and love in ways that bless others and protect the beauty of all that surrounds us is ongoing. Earth Day, and Easter Sunday, both celebrating God’s will on earth as it is in heaven, are wonderful opportunities to build community. They are special days that help raise awareness of our place in the larger gift of life.

If you would like to contribute to the Peace Garden project, please visit the church website at fpcsandpoint.org where you can learn more about it, and click Give Now, or use your mobile device for this QR symbol.

Pastor Andy Kennaly is pastor at First Presbyterian Church.

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