Friday, December 7, 2012

Advent 2- Anticipating the birth of Christ with all the Earth

by Tyler Sit 

Romans 8:18-24
"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 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. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?"

I know Jesus never wore snowpants, but Christmas is certainly the time when my mind is on cold weather.

I think about the street lamps of Minnesota, padded with the bluster of blizzards, shining onto glossy streets. I think of icicles, hanging like the pipes of an organ along every rooftop. How much warmer fireplaces and friends feel in this season; how much cleaner do our hallelujahs ring across the plates of ice. It’s not exactly Bethlehem, but winter in the Twin Cities gives me the thrill of hope that Advent is all about.

Perhaps your ecological memories are different than mine, but we have all encountered God during some brush with nature—whether it was at a mountain top, during a thunderstorm, or in the middle of a bird song in the morning. As Christians, we have to honor these sites of divine encounter, not in a romanticized way but in honor of the real difference nature makes in our spiritual lives.

Romans 8 says that the earth’s flourishing is a sign that human beings are living rightly; destruction of the planet (“bondage and decay”) directly correlates to human rejection of God’s will.

The reason is obvious: nature is our friend in finding God—it inspires us, calms us, and accompanies us. The degradation of the planet, its subjection to “futility,” is not something to be taken lightly.

Furthermore, our abuse of the planet is accessory to injustices against human beings—think of refugees created by climate change, environmental health risks to children from pollution, and increasing amounts of famine.

The vision of Romans 8, however, offers more: it gives earth a voice. The planet literally groans (v22) for the time when it must shoulder the weight of human recklessness no longer. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is not a melody for human voices alone.

Celebrate this Advent season, then, with more than just your family or church. Anticipate the birth of Christ with all of the Earth, ever-mindful of the destruction humans have wrought and ever-grateful in the Spirit that abides with us despite it all.

It is a shallow practice indeed—to place a star on a tree without noticing deforestation, to break bread without caring about desolation of agricultural systems, to celebrate a virgin birth without considering the future world of our children.
God offers us more hope that that. Humans and earth alike deserve care and freedom from violence.

Let us begin now.

3 Ideas for Making Your Christmas Greener
  • Agree with friends and family to exchange gifts that make a difference—donations to charity, microloans to end poverty (see, or organic and fair trade gifts
  • Pray with your faith community for the renewal of the planet and the healing of human actions that have harmed it
  • It’s never too early to start planning your next vegetable garden!


Tyler Sit is in the Master of Divinity program at the Candler School of Theology and pursuing ordination in The United Methodist Church. He is an organizer for the World Student Christian Federation (North America), and is constantly seeking creative ways to combine his passions for environmentalism, contemplation, feminism, and social justice. In his spare time, he enjoys going on adventures.

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