Theologian’s Almanac for Week of April 21, 2019
Welcome to SALT’s “Theologian’s Almanac,” a weekly selection of important birthdays, holidays, and other upcoming milestones worth marking - specially created for a) writing sermons and prayers, b) creating content for social media channels, and c) enriching your devotional life.
For the week of Sunday, April 21:
April 21 is Easter Sunday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s one of the few “moveable feasts” in the Christian calendar, floating to a different Sunday each year. Why? Jesus was said to have risen on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring - a sign that, for Christians, the event’s significance is cosmic in scope, its anniversary depending more on the moon and the season than the numerical date on the calendar. For more on the meaning of Easter, check out SALT’s commentary here.
April 21 is also the birthday of naturalist John Muir, born in Dunbar, Scotland, in 1838 - though he grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. By age 11, he could recite nearly all of the Bible by heart, and his writings later in life are shot through with theological ideas. An avid inventor and fascinated with God’s creation, he was nearly struck blind by a sawmill accident, and realized how important the beautiful world was to him: “I bade adieu to all my mechanical inventions, determined to devote the rest of my life to the study of the inventions of God.” He embarked on a 1,000-mile walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, and then another from San Francisco to the Sierra Nevada. He eventually founded the Sierra Club and tirelessly fought to protect wilderness areas, especially around the Yosemite Valley, and his fateful camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt resulted in the establishment of the U.S. National Parks. For a collection of his spiritual writings, check out this lovely anthology.
April 22 is Earth Day, first observed in 1970 (which means next year is the 50th anniversary!). Largely inspired by Rachel Carson’s work, among others, the original Earth Day was a widespread, bipartisan response to the negative impacts of industrial development - and President Nixon, along with Congress, responded quickly, establishing the Environmental Protection Agency that same year. With something like one billion people now participating annually, Earth Day is considered the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. Jews and Christians, among other religious people, have been involved all the way along in Earth Day’s history - and no wonder, since Genesis so vividly casts humanity as creation’s steward in the first creation story; as Eden’s gardener in the second creation story; and as custodian of creation’s biodiversity in the Noah story. Indeed, this year’s Earth Day theme is “Protect Our Species.”
April 25 is the birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Jazz, who once said, “It’s not easy for me to get up in front of a crowd of people. It used to bother me a lot, but now I’ve got it figured out that God gave me this talent to use, so I just stand there and sing!” Here she is, um, just standing there and singing :)