Monday, June 14, 2010

What's Toxic, Sticky, and Spreads?

American Egret takes flight from an oil-impacted marsh along the Louisiana coast.
June 7, 2010 - AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

At St. James' Episcopal Church, Marietta, GA, parishioners contribute meditations on the daily lectionary for a series of devotional booklets for different seasons.  I just wrote my contribution, for Lent 2011.  It concerns the first anniversary of a disaster that will surely be a continuing story in the news for years to come.

Here it is:

for Wednesday , April 20, 2011

Jeremiah 17:5-6  Cursed is the man who trusts in man…. He is like a shrub in the desert [and shall dwell in] an uninhabited salt land.

On this day one year ago, a deadly explosion released torrents of oil that flowed unabated for months.  It polluted Gulf waters and coated the shore, suffocating life, making fertile land uninhabitable.

We felt anger even more than sorrow.  We had trusted “failsafe” technology;  in any case, we had trusted agencies to shield the marshland and beaches.  We felt betrayed.

But in our interconnected world, there’s a lot of betrayal to go around.  I drive, heat and cool my home, shop for low price on gasoline, and invest in funds that include oil stocks.  In these ways, I supported the drilling for oil in the Gulf; didn’t we all?  While teams of volunteers frantically scrubbed toxic tar from the eyes and mouths of turtles and birds, I cringed with the feeling that those innocent creatures of God were suffering for our Sin.

By “Sin,” I don’t mean air-conditioning, but a pervasive human condition that spreads like oil through the Bible, from the garden of Eden to the garden of Gethsemane.  Once Adam and Eve betray the Lord’s trust, the story of humanity becomes the story of Cain against Abel, nation against nation, powerful against powerless.   Again and again, God’s beloved people betray His trust, finally delivering His son to the cross.

God’s cleanup begins at Easter, and spreads by disciples from Jerusalem to Rome, from Jews to Gentiles, from generation to generation, all the way to St. James’ Church in Marietta today. 

Like teams of engineers, Coast Guard, fishermen, and animal rescuers who rushed to the Gulf last year – plus marine biologists, civic agents and lawyers who will continue dealing with consequences of the oil spill for many years to come – we all have our work to do, and we have to do it together. 


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