Preaching the Green Gospel

It's not about "red" or "blue," but green.

That's what Rebekah Simon-Peter, author of "Green Church: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice!" would like to convey. "Green Church" is a wake up call and challenge for Christians of all stripes and persuasions to set aside their petty doctrinal differences in order to reclaim our original mandate: to care for creation.

Simon-Peter begins her biblically based book reminding Christians of our responsibility to serve as stewards of God's good earth. She reminds us of the Genesis story and God's charge to humanity to take care of this blessed place for us to enjoy and thrive in. In the Genesis story, humanity got out of control, chaos ensued and God sought to restore order by ridding the earth of humans with a great flood. But then, "God repented of de-creation in forty days." Simon-Peter asks, "Can we follow suit?"

But she pointedly asserts, "The Bible calls us to be stewards of creation, but most of us are content to be mere consumers."

The book is rife with a bevy of scientific data and statistics that suggest a bleak state of affairs for the earth. Among them: "All over the world, animal and plant species are disappearing at an unprecedented and alarming rate. This is not the Rapture; this is the largest mass extinction since the age of the dinosaurs. Biologists predict that fully half of all species on earth may be gone within the next 50 -100 years." And, "Scientists predict that if we continue fishing at the current rate, the planet will run out of seafood by 2048 ... Bye-bye lobster dinners, frozen fish sticks, and jobs."

She states the unwelcome facts without being preachy or attacking. She admits to being part of the problem and has compassion for her fellow humans who are trying to live our busy lives in this modern, demanding world.

She wonders aloud what we're all wondering, "Is it too late for us to make a difference and learn to live together in fruitful harmony? Or can we find a way to live into our biblical call?"

"What has gone wrong? It seems that we who have been called to care for creation have become sinners against the creation."

What are we to do?

According to "Green Church," we need to "Repent, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rejoice!"

She remembers being an optimistic environmental studies major 25 years ago and thinking that "Someone will surely do something about this, before it's too late."

Since then, things have gone from bad to worse. Two years ago, Simon-Peter had an epiphany, "That 'someone' is me. And you."

For such a thin book (about 100 pages), "Green Church" packs a potent whallop and provides an overflowing fountain of effective suggestions and strategies for churches and church members to reduce our combined use of fossil fuels, energy consumption, the earth's resources and otherwise "green the Kingdom."

"Green Church" has a companion volume called "7 Steps to Green Your Church," which provides even more concrete steps and actions that churches (and other religious groups) can take to make as much of a difference as possible and to live-out Christ's call for his followers to be "a city on the hill" bearing witness and serving as an example for the rest of the world. Currently, the Church is behind much of the rest of society, but "Green Church" provides a way for us to live into the best of who we're called to be.

"Green Church" is a powerful read for individuals and it's ideal for small group book studies. I suspect that most of the churches who read "Green Church" will soon have a "green team" of informed, energized and inspired people who will help their congregations get on board and reclaim their sense of stewardship, of working with God to help this big blue marble shine once again.