Today is Earth Day, a yearly recognition that began in 1970 as a response to a massive oil spill off the coast of California. There has always been elements of both environmentalism and politics in Earth Day. And along the way it was adopted by many faith groups as a way of honouring the Creator and creation. Some Christian denominations including the United Church have adopted the Sunday closest to Earth Day as the opportunity to praise the goodness of what God has brought into being and ask how we might become more effective in "living with respect in Creation."
We are not alone though. Jewish and Muslim congregations make similar efforts. Again this year Islamic religious leaders worldwide are planning to deliver a Green “Khutbah,” or sermon, at the traditional Friday prayer service on April 24 to mark Earth Day. Founded in Canada in 2012, the Green Khutbah Campaign takes place to commemorate Earth Day.
Muaz Nasir, one of the founders of the Campaign, said in a recent statement, “The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Water – A Sacred Gift.'” We spent several weeks last year pondering the sacredness of water. Nasir is also the publisher of Khaleafa.com, a Canadian environmental website with an Islamic focus on stewardship. He points out that the Quran gives direction:
[Quran 56: 68-70]