Are you green? How about your congregation? Perhaps you’re using good practices that support the environment. But many who do so lack a theological framework to explain their actions and intentions.
A recent book explicitly addresses this concern: Earth & Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet (Continuum, 2007) edited by David Rhoads, professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and a longtime champion of environmental activism in the church.
Rhoads selected 36 diverse sermons and inspirational meditations on ecological topics. They range across years and faith traditions, though a number of writers are Lutheran.The book is dedicated to one, theologian Joseph Sittler (1904-1987), as a “pioneer and mentor.”
The writings take a variety of approaches. Some are very personal, some quite literary and some draw on theologians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They are richly biblical. And they all translate well from spoken delivery to written word.
An advantage of their appearance on the page is the option to pause and ruminate on specific phrases or thoughts. The writing is consistently accessible.
The ideas spawning each entry are fascinating in their differences. One writer visits the zoo. Another contemplates Lake Michigan from his high-rise window. A third describes a park built on top of a sewage-treatment plant.
Several refer to parallel problems like racism and injustice. Others cite specific ecological disasters. All are hopeful and offer new ways of thinking about the issues.
The book also supplies references for action. A good place to start is Web of Creation, a site Rhoads directs to help congregations and others connect spiritual ideas with practical steps.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers