by Christine Sine
What on earth are we doing to creation? We have disrupted the ecological balance of all God created on earth, and we owe it to God, to each other, and to all species to restore the balance. This is the greatest physical and spiritual challenge humanity has ever faced together. Caring for creation is key to receiving the full blessings of the Creator. Awareness of the Infinite opens us up to protecting the immediate – the very planet on which we live.
I read this quote from the Eco Bible : Volume One: An ecological Commentary on Genesis and Exodus, by Rabbi Yonatan Neri, and Rabbi Leo Dee, just after reading this very sobering article: A Clear Message from Science in the Climate Forward Newsletter from the New York Times about the latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report states that we probably only have a decade in which to secure a sustainable and livable future for our planet.
We feel overwhelmed by this challenge and think there is little we can do, yet as Christians we are perfectly positioned to make a difference. Rabbi Yonatan Neri, and Rabbi Leo Dee in the Eco Bible quote Gus Seth, former dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as saying:
I used to think that top global environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought with 30 years of good science, we could address these problems, but I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy, and to deal with these we need spiritual and cultural transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.
Climate change requires spiritual transformation. We need to transform our view of the Bible to see the ecological underpinnings of the story. Pope Francis voices a call for repentance, extremely important during this season of Lent, that requires reconciliation with creation.
“We come to realize that a healthy relationship with creation is one dimension of overall personal conversion, which entails the recognition of our errors, sins, faults and failures and leads to heartfelt repentance and desire to change. (Pope Francis in the papal encyclical Laudatory Si)
Centuries before that, the apostle Paul asserted that the call to turn towards God, is entwined with God’s regenerative activity through Christ in “new creation”, reconciling the world and all that it contains to Godself. Pauline theology focuses on the world-transforming act of God in Christ, an act with cosmic dimensions and implications. In 2 Corinthians 5:20 we read:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away: see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the work to himself.
The gospel of John also seems to have an ecological focus. Some scholars see it as rewriting the Genesis story of creation in all its glory, ending with the birth of the new creation. Like the book of Genesis is starts with the words “In the beginning” and ends with Mary’s confusion as to whether he is the gardener, followed by his appearing to the disciples in all his resurrected glory. Here too there is a garden, and Jesus is its gardener. This was the focus of the retreat I conducted on Saturday. The creation story of Genesis moves from a garden paradise to our present world of pain and suffering. Jesus walk from Gethsemane to Easter moves from a garden of pain and suffering to one of resurrection and new life. (The Garden Walk of Holy Week)
What I love about living in Seattle is that spring emerges as Easter approaches. All around me as signs of new life, of new creation. I read about the death and resurrection in the Bible, but in the bursting forth of spring I experience it.
When we grab hold of these truths, our worldview is changed and we are compelled to take action to make a difference. And we can make a difference. It is probable that the Paris Accord of 2015 restricted the predicted 4-5C rise in temperature to the current 1C rise. Though change is needed at a government and corporate level to keep that from rising further, there are still things that all of us can do to make a difference. Some are very simple. Some require sacrifice. Heidi Roop in her book The Climate Action Handbook has great suggestions for ordinary people like you and me. “From food and fashion choices, rethinking travel, greening up our homes and gardens, to civic engagement and championing community climate planning, Dr. Heidi Roop shares 100 wide-ranging ways that readers from all walks of life can help move the needle in the right direction. ” Some are within the each of all of us – like using the cold cycle on our washing machines and reducing our driving speed. Others like electric cars and solar panels are a little more challenging.
We can all make a difference in God’s world and move toward the completion of God’s new creation. which came into being at the resurrection of Christ. How exciting and yet how challenging that is.
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