“Kiss the Ground”

Genesis 2: 7 – 15 Jill A. Kirchner-Rose, MDIV, DMIN

Aliens may be all the rage with their mystique, but the planet we call home, Planet Earth, is really quite remarkable.

  • Earth provides air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat.
  • And did you know that Earth is the only planet in our solar system with plate tectonics? Without them our planet would overheat.
  • Moreover, the Sahara Desert helps the Amazon rainforest every day. At first glance, the two regions would appear to have no connection to each other. They are 3000 miles away from each other. And yet, twenty-seven million tons of dust is transported across the ocean via the wind to the Amazon each year. This dust acts like a fertilizer and is essential for the Amazon rainforest’s survival.
  • Our Planet Earth is also home to 8.7 million species. There is a wide diversity of wildlife from the graceful swan to the playful dolphin to the majestic tiger to the colorful monarch butterfly to the soaring bald eagle. Such diversity!
  • And the Earth has this miraculous ability to heal itself.

Our Creator created a most amazing planet. This is a great place to live. There is much to celebrate on this Earth Sunday!

Yet, we are all aware that our precious planet is in big trouble. By now, many of us are aware that increased carbon emissions in our atmosphere causes global warming and climate change. Significant carbon emissions come from coal, oil, gas, degenerative agriculture and deforestation. As a result, we are seeing major droughts, raging wildfires, intense hurricanes, catastrophic flooding, and massive erosion. Climate experts tell us that we are headed for a sixth massive extinction. Such bad news. It is overwhelming and leaves many of us in a state of paralysis.

But what if the solution to climate change is right under our feet and is as old as dirt? Yes, I am referring to earth. Soil. Land. Ground. Yes, dirt (and more specifically soil) may save the planet. We don’t give much thought to dirt. In fact, we speak of dirt in derogatory terms. “He treats me like dirt.” Dirt here refers to being treated as utterly worthless. Or “Do you have the dirt on that celebrity?” In this case, dirt means scandalous gossip. Or “Your name is mud.” We are referring to someone who is regarded unfavorably because their reputation has been tarnished.  Or when we speak of something being dirty or soiled, we are saying that thing, that person is defiled or filthy. We may speak of dirt in derogatory terms and yet, dirt / soil may save our planet.

Soil is a living miracle. In one handful of soil, there are more organisms than there are humans on earth. There is an entire universe in one handful of soil. Dirt, soil provides a home for many critters. Soil provides nutrients to our vegetables. You can plant a dried up, scraggly looking bulb into the dirt and it comes up as a beautiful Easter lily. And let’s not forget that, according to today’s scripture passage, we were created from dirt! God took dirt, breathed life into it and created Adam. On Ash Wednesday we say, “From dust you have come and to dust you shall return.”

Earth, dirt, soil is a living miracle. And it has the unique ability to sequester carbon and carbon is good for the soil. What had been a problem — atmospheric carbon causing climate change is now a solution, soil carbon, lowering the temperature of the earth. In fact, there are some who believe that if we can sequester enough carbon into the ground we can begin to reverse global warming. This is extraordinary news…and the best news of all is that we know how to do it.

So, what can we do to help sequester carbon into the earth? We can support regenerative agriculture. Currently, many farmers practice degenerative or conventional farming which results in farms going to dust and farmers going bust. Conventional agriculture depends on over tilling the ground and using synthetic fertilizers and chemicals.  Regenerative agriculture, however, puts carbon back into the soil…where it belongs.

Regenerative agricultural practices include:

  • no tillage,
  • no pesticides
  • multiple crop rotations.

We can advocate for regenerative farming through letter writing to the Secretary of Agriculture. You can find a sample letter in The View to send or you can write your own. Let us advocate for regenerative farming practices.

What else can we do to help sequester carbon in the earth? We can eat a plant -based diet. A plant-based diet reduces land clearing and greenhouse emissions. Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh said that making the transition to a plant-based diet may be the most effective way an individual can stop climate change. We are inviting you to go vegetarian on Earth Day, April 22nd. Dianne Landeros is collecting vegetarian recipes that we will send out to you. In the book of Genesis, we read that Adam was a vegetarian.  God told Adam that he could eat any plant or fruit tree for food. Meat was not mentioned as an option. In fact, according to the Bible, humans didn’t eat meat until after the flood. So, let’s restore Eden and move toward a plant-based diet. Speaking of plant-based diets, “Why did the tomato blush? Because the tomato saw the salad dressing.” What did Cher say to the vegetarian? I got tofu babe.” Groan. (Leftovers from Holy Humor Sunday.)

What else can you do to sequester carbon? You can compost. Roughly a third of the world’s food is never eaten. It ends up in landfills. How about sending our scraps of food to compost rather than to landfills? Composting reduces green house emissions, enriches the soil, retains moisture, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. If you want to learn more about composting, I invite you to our church community garden today at 3 p.m. where Gretchen will give us an orientation to the community garden and will teach us how to compost.

Moreover, you are encouraged to shop at Farmer’s Market. Food in the United States travels an average of 1500 miles to get your plate. This takes lots of fossil fuels. Eating what is in season locally will put less stress on the Earth. Not to mention that fruits and vegetables at farmer’s market are generally fresher and tastier than those that have been shipped. And you are supporting family farms, nourishing your body, and connecting with the community.

You are also encouraged to plant a tree. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, giving us healthy air to breathe and reducing global warming. Plant perennials and use mulch. Mulch conserves moisture and supplies nutrients to the soil. Many of these ideas come from the documentary “Kiss the Ground.” “Kiss the ground” is also the title of today’s sermon. For indeed we may want to kiss the ground for it is the ground that may save us. I encourage you to watch the documentary on Netflix or with your church family through Zoom on Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. A zoom link will be sent to you.

Undoubtedly, we live on an amazing planet which provides food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe. Planet Earth has done an outstanding job of caring for us and now it is our turn to care for and love planet Earth. If you love something, you want to protect it. So, let’s protect planet Earth and return to Eden once again where streams flow and biodiversity flourishes. Let’s honor, respect, and love Mother Earth and let’s make everyday Earth Day!  Amen.