One of our traditional Easter hymns goes like this:
Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!
All creation, join to say: Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, O heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
As we sang this hymn two Sundays ago, I noticed (maybe for the first time!) that all of creation is called to join in singing joyful praise and thanksgiving for Christ’s triumph over sin and death. And it struck me that Easter isn’t just good news for us human beings, but for all of creation too.
This shouldn’t surprise us. The Bible has told us all along that the salvation offered in Christ isn’t just for us. Listen to the following scriptures:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” ~Romans 8:1921
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” ~John 3:16
“In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself.” ~2 Corinthians 5:19
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” ~Colossians 1:19
God’s plan for salvation includes much more than just Christians or even human beings; it includes the whole universe – the plants and animals, the mountains and seas, the planets and stars – all of it! The abundant, eternal life Jesus promises is not just about us dying and going to heaven one day. It’s actually about all of creation living in communion with God here and now.
Our ultimate hope in Christ’s return and the restoration of God’s kingdom includes the renewal of creation, restoring the vision of paradise we are given at the very beginning in Genesis. As Fletcher Harper writes in GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Save the Earth, “The New Testament’s vision of paradise is one in which people and planet live together in well-being, joined in God’s collective embrace.”
So why is this important? Well, if we’re going to be Easter people, living the good news of Christ’s resurrection and new life, then our lives need to be good news for the earth too. Just as Christ calls us to be his Body here on earth, sharing his grace and compassion, justice and peace with everyone we meet, so are we called to live this way toward the earth, caring for creation with the same love and care God has shown us, working for environmental justice and peace for all of creation. This is good news for all and it shapes our life together in relationship with God, one another and the world!