Earth Day originated in Wisconsin, the brain child of then US Senator Gaylord Nelson, in 1970. This “holiday” is considered by some as the birth of the environmental movement. In 2011 the 41st anniversary of Earth Day coincided with Good Friday. Not to worry, the leaders of the ELCA have approved a Good Friday substitute service that will satisfy our environmental sensibilities. The Tenebrae service is reserved for the most somber of occasions, the day that our Savior gave His life for us so that we may live. “A Tenebrae for the Earth” is an optional worship service for use during the Lenten season. This service was developed by the Women of the ELCA in 2009. First of all a globe is placed at the center of the altar, apparently giving it equality with our Savior. James 4:4, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Don’t worry about this and other troublesome passages of Scripture that warn us to be in the world, but not of the world, this service places the earth where the ELCA believes is at its’ rightful place. Since Bishop Hanson is on President Obama's task force on faith and community, perhaps that is why our President offered an official notice acknowledging Earth Day, but was mute on Easter, the most important event to Christians. Some excerpts from this service include;
• During this time of solemn reflection, we will ponder the passion of our Lord as joined to the ongoing passion of creation. The format of this “worship” service follows the pattern of a traditional Tenebrae service, where a series of seven reflections are each followed by a diminishment of the light. The seven reflections used will lift up the ongoing suffering of the Body of Christ on Earth – both within God’s people and God’s created world. As we acknowledge and ponder the passion of the Earth, the passion of God’s creation, let us look deeply into our hearts and prayerfully ask ourselves:
• In what ways do we deny (like Peter) that we even ARE followers of Christ, when we look away from or deny the degradation of creation, which God so loves? In what ways do we continue to add to the wounds and suffering of Christ, in the ways we treat one another and this precious Earth? How are we, through our action or inaction, contributing to the degradation of God’s beloved creation?
• The Passion of the Earth: “Seven Degradations of Creation” include the degradation of the land, global toxification, degradation of the oceans, extinction of species, degradation of fresh water, global climate change & air pollution, and human social & cultural degradation.** Mud is placed on the globe and one light is extinguished after each petition.
• A series of prayers of sorrow about how we are destroying the earth complete with petitions such as; We pray for the resolve to change our habits and for the courage to speak out for public policies that will ensure cleaner water, air, and soil. (It really would be something if they asked us to speak out for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.) Further petitions accuse humankind of disgracefully misusing creation.
Although we are charged as stewards of this world, this service accuses humankind of cruelty to God’s creation simply by living on this planet. If only our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ held as high an honor to this misguided denomination as saving the planet, I wonder how many souls could be saved and brought to Christ? If only Jesus was as important as social justice to the leaders of the ELCA. What is particularly troubling is that so many fall prey to these false gospels. 2 Peter 2:18-21, “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” Even though the leadership of the ELCA is well aware of what our Lord commands, it would appear that the things of this world are more of a priority for them. One must fill their heart with the Truth that is our Lord and Savior before going out to try and save the world. Save enough souls and there will be many more good stewards of God’s creation. Only then will you be properly prepared to work for true justice in this world.