Second Sunday of Easter
“What the world needs now is peace”
The Rev. Leonard Oakes
Today, the world celebrates Earth day.
Alina Bradford of Live Science reports on the history of Earth Day:
“The first Earth Day was in 1970. When Sen Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, saw the damage done by a 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, was inspired to organize a national “teach-in” that focused on educating the public about the environment.
Nelson recruited Denis Hayes, a politically active recent graduate of Stanford University, as national coordinator, and persuaded U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey of California to be co-chairman. With a staff of 85, they were able to rally 20 million people across the United States on April 20, 1970. Universities held protests, and people gathered in public areas to talk about the environment and find ways to defend the planet.
“Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values,” according to a history of Earth Day by the Earth Day Network, which was founded by the event’s organizers to promote environmental citizenship and action year-round.
Reflecting on the 10th anniversary of Earth Day, Nelson wrote in an article for EPA Journal, “It was on that day that Americans made it clear that they understood and were deeply concerned over the deterioration of our environment and the mindless dissipation of our resources.”
Earth Day continued to grow over the years. In 1990, it went global, and 200 million people in 141 countries participated in the event, according to the Earth Day Network.
Earth Day 2000 included 5,000 environmental groups and 184 countries. Hayes organized a campaign that focused on global warming and clean energy. “The world’s leaders in Kyoto, Japan, in late 1997, acknowledged the scientific fact that the leading cause of global warming is carbon emissions from fossil-fuel consumption, and that something must be done to address those rising emissions,” Hayes told National Geographic.
In 2010, for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, 225,000 people gathered at the National Mall for a climate rally. Earth Day Network launched a campaign to plant 1 billion trees, which was achieved in 2012, according to the organization.
Last year on Earth Day, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked world leaders to sign the Paris Climate agreement aimed at keeping planet warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit). (Then U.S president Barack Obama signed the treaty that day)
Today, more than 1 billion people across the globe participate in Earth Day activities, according to EDN.
Although Earth Day has become mainstream, surveys show that environmentalism may be stumbling. According to recent Gallup polls, 42 percent of Americans believe that the dangers of climate change is exaggerated, and less than half say that protection of the environment should be given priority over energy production.
But Earth Day is still important because it reminds people to think about humanity’s values, the threats the planet faces and ways to help protect the environment, said Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology and environmental studies at The College of Wooster in Ohio.
According to a survey from device recycler ecoATM, 30 percent of those polled plant a tree for Earth Day, and 23 percent clean up a local park. About 47 percent of those polled associate Earth Day with recycling.
Here are some Earth Day ideas from people around the country:
- “The first is to promote understanding of important environmental issues so that more people are aware of the critical actions we need to take to protect our environment. The second is to commit yourself to service on or around Earth Day — plant some trees, clean up a stream or help your local community garden.”
- “Read your labels, and require transparency from your favorite brands. Make a pledge to keep water clean and accessible for years to come,” “Commit to making an at-risk species your mascot, and become an advocate for that particular species.
- “Take a walk in nature and simply appreciate it, plant a tree or a flower, pick up a discarded bottle and recycle it (even if it isn’t yours), turn off your printer for a day, power off your computer and take a tech break, go vegetarian for a day, use a certified natural skin-care product.
- “A simple way that everyone can celebrate Earth Day to make the world a better place is to turn off the lights in their own homes and in their offices … not just sometimes, but all of the time,” “It may sound simple, but how many times have you left the lights on when you could be saving energy?”
Singer and song writer Dionne Warwick sang her wonderful song on what the world needs now: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No not just for some, oh, but just for every, every everyone. What the world needs now is love sweet love.”
My favorite singer and song writer, John Denver, an environment lover sings his “Flower that shattered the stone”
- The Earth is our mother just turning around With her trees in the forest and roots underground Our father above us who’s high is the wind Paint us a rainbow without any end
[Chorus] As the river runs freely the mountain does rise Let me touch with my fingers and see with my eyes In the hearts of the children of pure love still roams Like a bright star in heaven that lights our way home Like the flower that shattered the stone
Sparrows find freedom beholding the Sun In the engine and beauty we’re all joined in one I reach out before me and look to the sky
What the world and all that dwell in it, need now is Peace. Peace that knows no bound, peace that surpasses all understanding. The kind of peace our Lord and savior Jesus Christ said to his disciples who were terrified of what had just transcribed in their very eyes.
The Peace that Jesus Christ declared to his disciples gathered in a concealed room after his death, was the most important word his disciples desperately needed to hear in that very moment when the Jews were looking for them. His disciples still cannot understand all that had transcribed and been happening. They just witnessed the brutal and horrific death on the cross of their friend and Lord Jesus. They were doubtful of the reports given to them by the women who first witnessed that his body was nowhere to be found in the tomb, even the report that an angel appeared and told them that Jesus had resurrected from the dead. And now, for fear of the Jews, they locked themselves in a room, perhaps recalling and putting together all the pieces in the puzzle and understanding the meaning of all these events. Jesus appeared to them the first time and still had doubts. This time, he appeared again in the presence of Thomas who now said, “My Lord and my God,” when he saw the marks of Jesus wounds.
I don’t blame Thomas for I too had my own doubts of the love of God. I was looking for miracle to happen when my dad was hospitalized and that I wanted to see him and talk to him before anything happens. When my prayers didn’t happen how I wanted it, I began to say “Why?” and doubt on God’s saving grace. It was until I heard the sermon during his funeral when the Bishop said the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts, says the Lord,” that I realized the true joy and abundant life that came out of that doubting experience of the saving embrace of God in the resurrection. It was in that experience that I received the Peace of Christ which passes all understanding, that peace that the world cannot give was brought by the source of all Peace, Jesus Christ himself.
I thank those who shared their life experiences reflecting on the 7 last words of Jesus on the Cross on Holy Week. There’s so much revelation and truth shared that a human experience can truly have, even that of doubting to get an answer from God. There have been times when we locked ourselves inside of us and ignore all that could possibly happen. Then, out of the sudden, Christ appears to us saying, “Peace be with you.”
Peace then is what the world needs now. Chaos is all around us. There are tensions everywhere and leaders are pushing each other into the limit, while the rest of the people in the world, especially those who have been there are terrified that they will again be brought into such experience. Young innocent children and old and tired bodies seniors are looking helpless thinking that the world have not learned from the past.
Peace is what refugees and victims of wars and violence in their countries of origin are desperately needed. They were forced to live in countries they are forced to adapt and yet meet resistance and apprehensions from the very peace loving country.
Peace is what our inner souls need when we cannot sleep thinking if are able to keep our roofs and able sustain our family when everything else seem to be unreachable and vain. Peace is what our inner souls need when pain is all within us and seem to stay the rest of our lives. Peace is what our inner souls need when our lives are dependent on a machine that keeps us temporarily alive.
Last Friday, I shared the message to the members of the Bishop Committee that Deacon Tricia is experiencing her most difficult part of living under the help of an oxygen tank and antibiotics. Rev. Rebecca told me that Deacon Tricia said to her “goodbye.” I called Deacon Tricia right away and said, “I wouldn’t let you go without saying, “I love you and thank you for all the good deeds you imparted to every one of us at Holy Child and St Martin.” Then I said, “The Peace of Christ be with you.” She said, “Thank you” and we hanged up. The next day, Luz Mack texted me saying, “The doctors allowed Deacon Tricia to be airlifted back to San Francisco as her wish. Her oxygen level is better. She wants to sing during the April 29 concert. Deacon Tricia’s faith is always strong and positive in her resolves.
I have no doubt that our Lord Jesus Christ is always near Deacon Tricia, comforting her and keeping her faith high with God. She is at peace with God no matter what happens.
We all need that Peace and Love. The world needs that peace and love. Let us all be at peace and loving with each other, our family, our community, our nature friends around us, and the world. Let us turn to the person next and around us and make peace with each other, the peace that our Lord Jesus Christ wants us all to have. Amen.