We live in a world more and more disconnected with nature, the ‘sacredness’ of human relationship with God, the land and themselves is broken.
We see vegetables wrapped in plastic and clingfilm from the superstore that has not just put the local independent green grocer (and the butcher, baker and candlestick maker) out of business but has caused our shopping to now have a vast carbon footprint, and some of which was traded where the conditions for the workers were not just unethical but dehumanising.
Our lives our sanitised from the effects of nature, we can get fruit all year around irrespective of season, we can just turn up and get what we want, pre-cut, and looking lovely.
I remember walking through the meat aisle and explaining to my daughter about meat coming from animals, she was upset as she likes animals, I began to feel less and less comfortable eating meat (as I write this I am dipping my toe in the water of being a vegetarian -my first day!) As I looked at the meat it felt detached from its source. (I used to work with a lovely vegetarian called Sam, but my daughter couldn’t say “Sam” and called him “Ham”.
As I write this, I’ve just been told off by my wife, for forgetting to split the recycling up properly and throwing away things that could be recycled. I feel a fraud writing about being a good steward of God’s creation.
In Genesis 1, we have words that make me feel really uncomfortable such as “subdue the earth” and “rule over it” as are used to seeing protests ‘subdued with violence’ and ‘rule’ being almost synonymous with oppression, yet subdue in this context is about ‘bring peace and order to creation’ the rule of God is one that enables flourishing and goodness to prevail, these words have been misused to justify exploitation of our creation, but theologically are bankrupt and flawed. As we continue through the creation narratives we read Genesis 2, our responsibility to care for the earth and steward it well is inescapable, in fact we originate from the earth and will return from it “remember you are but dust and to dust you will return”. We were meant to be at one with nature rather than trying to live separated from it, and in living separately we are not only abdicating our responsibilities but damaging and destroying what we were meant to be caring for. In fact, we are kill God’s creation.
As I see the multiple films and protests around the world I feel very small and very powerless. Then I remembered when we started our work with Street Pastors in Kingswood, at first we rushed around chatting to one another and unsurprisingly we had very few conversations about Jesus, but as we slowed down, talked less, looked around more, caught peoples eyes more and more opportunities were presented to us. I believe the same thing is true for ecology, the environment, Green issues and issues of justice, the slower we go, the more aware we are, the more we think, look and are intentionally seeking moments where can make a difference we will be astounded at the opportunities that are presented to us.
I believe that we live in a world where people want to make a difference, are yearn-ing to make the world a better place, to pass on a creation to our children and grandchildren a clean world, healthy and flourishing. The Church of Jesus Christ should have been leading the way on this critical issue and yet we have been slow and sluggish to step up and speak out on our responsibilities to be obedient to the call of God to look after his creation
Yet too we live in a world where the call of money and business is appealing and we the Church have a message that another way is possible, and there is another Kingdom to serve that is not Mamon -the Roman insatiable Pig God of wealth that was never satisfied-. Jesus says “You cannot serve both God and Mamon”. As the Native Americans remind us: “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money”.
Instead, lets gather around the truth of the story of the God who threw stars into the heavens above and allowed his creation to piece his hands, feet and side -and yet death could not contain, nor the rules of nature bind or imprison, and calls us to partner with him to build another world, the Kingdom of God, the groans of creations itself echoing our prayers and our heartbeat, living out a life that is good new too all creation.