Lent might well be the most challenging season in the Christian calendar. Advent is about anticipation of things to come. Christmas and Easter are both celebrations of good news. But Lent? Lent is a season of sacrifice.
But Lent? Lent is a season of sacrifice.
It is a time when we are challenged to make sacrifices in our lives to make room for God’s presence in us and God’s call for us. The practice of giving something up is common in many Christian traditions, and usually involves letting go of a bad habit or guilty pleasure for personal improvement. The choices we make are often predictable, food and drink being the most common.
Giving something up, however, can be more than a personal experience—it can extend to include our local and global communities.
This Lent, Citizens for Public Justice is encouraging Canadian Christians to Give it up for the Earth!
Give it up for the Earth! is a campaign that challenges us to see Lent as an opportunity to promote the well-being of the global community as we work to mitigate climate change. By choosing to give up climate-damaging habits like driving or eating meat everyday, taking long-haul flights or making money from investments in fossil fuel companies, we can show our commitment to God’s call to care for the well-being of people and the planet.
But Give it up for the Earth! also goes beyond changing personal habits. Canadians can and should take action to reduce their individual greenhouse gas emissions but it is imperative that our governments also change their priorities.
Canadians can and should take action to reduce their individual greenhouse gas emissions but it is imperative that our governments also change their priorities.
So, giving something up for the planet might mean giving up complacency. It might mean going outside your comfort zone and speaking up for stronger government action on climate. Our Christian call to care for the earth has never been more relevant as humanity faces the devastating consequences of climate change around the world, while those with the power to act do so little.
“And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.” (Jeremiah 2:7)
As citizens of wealthy, developed countries, we have both the ability and responsibility to take action to protect creation.
I’m sure I’m not alone in spending a good part of the 40 days leading up to Easter feeling guilty about all my slip-ups in my chosen personal ‘sacrifice.’ And too often, it becomes a chore rather than a spiritual experience. But sacrifice doesn’t have to mean loss. Giving something up isn’t about making yourself feel miserable. In fact, Jesus’ example of sacrifice tells us it is exactly the opposite—sacrifice is about making space for revival and better things to come.
Sacrifice doesn’t have to mean loss.
Giving up driving or meat, or going outside of your comfort zone to speak up for what you value, isn’t about going without. It’s about making space for God to come in. Although there are certainly things we will lose if we don’t act to mitigate climate change, there are also incredible opportunities in taking action. Building a new way of life allows us to live in harmony with creation and the intricate balance of all life that God has created.
Greener communities offer better health, more equal opportunities, and more meaningful community. Less pollution and more green space promote physical and mental health and wellness. Community food and energy programs promote community-building, better eating, and local solutions to poverty and community vulnerability. Yet these are also solutions to the global challenge of climate change.
The earth and all that live in it are connected as part of one creation. By making space in our lives and our communities for a way of life that is in harmony with creation, we are making space for renewal of life on this earth, following the example of Jesus' sacrifice.
“For in Jesus 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 1:19-20)
As Lent approaches, I invite you to reflect on how you can Give it up for the Earth! and renew the life of the earth so that all creation may be reconciled to God. In this season of Lent, join faith communities across the country in taking personal and political action to safeguard the well-being of people and the planet.
Editor's note: Citizens for Public Justice is a valued partner of the Office of Social Justice and the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue.