What is it?

What is it? June 29, 2009

It is without question one of the most important things supporting Christianity in history.  Indeed, without it, there probably would be no Christianity whatsoever. We need to recognize this fact, so that we can protect it, and make sure Christianity is not destroyed by our own carelessness.  What is it?

The earth.

One of the most striking expressions of the notion of human sin as in itself a pollution of the earth is to be found in the kanon for October 26, commemorating the earthquake that struck Constantinople in 740. ‘See how we all have erred; and the earth which has done no wrong is terribly punished,’ we sing; and again, ‘The earth voicelessly cries out, groaning: Why do you all pollute me with many evils? Sparing you, the Master scourges me all over. Perceive this, and by repentance propitiate God.’ Pre-scientific ideas about the causes of earthquakes, we might say. But are these verses not also telling us something more profound? They remind us that the well-being of the world around us cannot be separated from our relationship with God.

—Elizabeth Theokritoff, Living in God’s Creation: Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 178-9).

Please, remember to treat the earth right. Go and sin no more. Abuse of the earth and its destruction starts with our own sin. But the more we sin, the more we get careless and destroy the world around us. It’s a sign of great spiritual decay to see the world in a sorrowful shape — for it reveals we, as humanity, have abandoned our role as stewards on the earth, for we are meant to be mediators of God’s grace to the earth itself. Our task is not to look to the earth for what it can give to us, but what we can bring it to be for the glory of God. Then and only then can all creation sing!

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