5 What will you do on the day of your appointed festivals,
on the feast days of the Lord? (Read the rest of the chapter here!)
Kind of a rough start to a blog entry the week before Christmas, right? But this chapter does ask us an important question: what will we do on the day of our appointed festivals? On the feast days of our Lord? Will we participate in hollow ritual, whether that be religious or secular in nature, or will we remember our true callings? Throughout these recent chapters – indeed, a major message that comes from numerous prophets – is that God does not want lip service, God wants our hearts and minds, our true dedication.
But what does that mean, exactly? For me, it means stewardship. I believe the best way to show our love of God is to care for what God cares for: Xyr creations. The Earth and all its inhabitants. So stewardship can take many forms, as you might imagine. That’s one of the beautiful things about it: you can find what makes you passionate and follow that path. And no one path is “better” or “right.” There are many, many problems that need to be addressed in this world.
For example, my two major motivators are environmental stewardship and combating racism/xenophobia. Those are broad topics, and I’ve explored them further I’ve zero-ed in on what really, really interests me. First, within environmental stewardship is the issue of food waste. Did you know that somewhere between 162-218 BILLION DOLLARS of food waste is generated in America each year? That’s food that is thrown out at grocery stores and restaurants, by individual consumers, and the stuff that is left to rot in the field because it doesn’t meet harvesting standards (but is perfectly edible). Just one third of that wasted food would be enough to feed the 50 million food-insecure individuals in this country. Instead, it is in landfills producing methane, a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. It is a sin of excess compounded by a sin of carelessness. Did you also know that there are two bills that have been introduced to Congress that would go a long way towards combating this waste….but they have languished since being introduced. (It’s the Food Recovery Act and the Food Date Labeling Act, both introduced by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine, you can read more about them here.) You can bet I call my reps about those bills, and spend a lot of time sharing facts like the ones above to spread the word. And while I’m far from perfect, I try to combat food waste at home, as well: buying only what we need, using leftovers in the next meal’s cooking, and composting as a last resort.
Second, racism and xenophobia, which need to be attacked from so many levels. The issue-within-the-issue, if you will, that really gets to me is governmental policies towards refugees. We are a country of plenty – as illustrated above by the sheer waste we are able to generate – and there is no reason we can’t reallocate resources to help those in need, including incoming refugees. I wrote more about why this issue is important to me last year, in this blog post. Again, I call my representatives, speak up on this blog and other forums, and donate when I can to organizations like IRC and RAICES.
But that’s just what I’m passionate about. And it’s OK if that’s not what you’re passionate about. My plea today is to just find what makes you passionate. Some other quick examples: My priest in Charlottesville cares deeply about healthcare in rural communities, as well as the rights and well-being of those in institutionalized care (such as the elderly or mentally ill). I have friends passionate about criminal justice reform. Others are dedicated to plastic-free lifestyles and spreading the word on the benefits of that, both personal and environmental. Many of my favorite accounts on Instagram are devoted to fighting fast fashion with it’s exploitative nature and environmental impacts.
Like I said, there’s a whole world of problems to be fixed. And that can be scary, when you think about trying to fix all of them. But God does not ask that of you. God simply wants you to be a part of the larger picture. When we are selfish, greedy, careless, we turn from God, as the ill-fated people in this chapter. But if we turn towards eachother, towards stewardship, we can avoid the horrors of this chapter, and that is something to rejoice.
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