Faith in a Time of Pandemic – Earth Day Reflections

Faith in a Time of Pandemic – Earth Day Reflections April 22, 2020


“Work out your own salvation with awe and excitement; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you to both will and to work for God’s good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13-14, Bruce’s translation)

Many translations say: “fear and trembling” rather than “awe and excitement,” these are as good as mine. But I have a reason for my alternative. First, “fear and trembling” suggest that God is judging us in a way that we need to fear, that God is out to get us if we fail to perform as God desires. Second, the term “fear,” as used in the Hebraic scriptures, often means “awe” – that is a sense of God’s grandeur in comparison to our limitations, a sense of amazement at God’s handiwork, described in the hymn “How Great Thou Art.”

I prefer “awe” to fear because we live, despite our daily concerns, we live in an awesome world – a trillion galaxies, each with billions of suns, a world of at least 13.7 billion years, and who knows what was going on before that! Awe is appropriate. We can also have awe at our own human lives – our immune system, recuperative powers, neurons firing, thoughts emerging, the movement of hands and feet, our ability to go beyond grief and loss to embrace life. The human imagination in spirituality, literature, science, and adventure. We are also awesome.

Today, we can have awe at the earth and its marvelous beauty, diverse species, and changing seasons. One of the ironies of the pandemic is that the skies are bluer, the earth is healthier, as a result of our economic sabbath (or shutdown). We eventually need to return to business – but perhaps not business as usual. We need to ponder new economies that treasure the earth, that balance growth with earth care, and put persons and planetary wellbeing above profit. God won’t do this for us. We must be God’s hands and feet.

And so we have work to do. Work out your salvation. Join God in healing the planet and its peoples. In other words, do what’s in front of you to heal the world. Be creative. Be God’s companion and messenger. Trust God and get to work. The future is open, not predestined. There will be no realm of God on earth as it is in heaven without our efforts.

God is working in us. We aren’t doing this alone. God is inspiring, energizing, enlivening, and creating within our lives and congregational We are being propelled by the same energy, creativity, and artistry that birthed the universe. We can do something wonderful with our lives and for our planet, trusting God and doing what is in our power. Thanks be to God! Happy Earth Day!

Fill me, O God ,with awe and wonder. Fill me with amazement at your world and our lives. Let me trust your work in my life and do what I can to bring beauty and healing to this good earth. Amen.

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