Reimagining Earth as a Beloved Community -by Aaron

Aaron Austin | May 3, 2018

Last week I was in Dayton for the Alliance of Baptists Gathering. And I must say, as an Alliance congregation, I think we're in good company.  From challenging speakers and thoughtful presenters to gracious and welcoming hosts, the Alliance continues to surprise me with it's ever-widening welcome and it's dedication to issues of justice for all people.

So I was surprised when our speaker for the weekend, Ched Meyers, said he was going to spend some time in the book of Revelation.  The weekend was supposed to be about care of creation, and as far as I could recall, Revelation never inspired me to start recycling--quite the contrary.  Combined with the end-is-near brand of religion I grew up with, a traipse through apocalyptic scriptures made me uneasy.  When we turned to the passage about the four horsemen of the apocalypse, I was ready to run for the door.

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However, with some scholarly reimagining, the text revealed much more than gloom and doom.  What if these famed horsemen were not some unavoidable future of divine wrath, but representations of the way that empire and industry misuse resources and people, leaving broken lives and broken land in their wake?  What if a new heaven and a new earth did not mean the end of this world, but the transformation of this world into a place where everyone has enough and we live in sustainable gratitude on this land?  

Over and again, old scriptures found new life.  Hyper-spiritualized readings were brought down into the dust and dirt.  God's provision was no longer given despite our resources--it emerges through tilling soil and cultivating growth.  God's glory was not otherworldly--it radiates from trees and sunsets, rivers and dewdrops.

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I found a new life in many old texts as we explored the depths of incarnation, and how our actions in this world directly relate to the coming of God's Kindom.  When we live sustainably, take only what we need, cherish the glory of God in our landscapes, and share with our neighbors, we might catch a glimpse of a new earth.  When we honor our watersheds and find there is enough for everyone, we might catch a glimpse of heaven right here and now.  

This barely scratches the surface of what we talked about at this year's Gathering.  You can see videos from the Gathering on the Alliance Facebook page.  In a few weeks we'll have copies of the Bible Studies on DVD as well if you're interested in hearing these scriptures reimagined.  You can find out more about Ched Meyers at his website chedmeyers.org.

Next Wednesday, we're going to talk more about how we can conserve and live more sustainably at our monthly Good Neighbor Community Spotlight. Chris Porter of Bluegrass Greensource will help us talk about best recycling practices and ways to conserve water as we head into the gardening season. Our discussion will help us conserve in our own homes and help us consider ways we can conserve as a faith community.  I hope you can join us for this workshop.  Find out more about the workshop on our website.

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