By Bishop Geoff Davies, the Green Bishop
I am thrilled that we are marking a Season of Creation and that Pope Francis has supported it so strongly.
Caring for creation is not just another moral issue. It is fundamental. At the Global Anglican Congress on the Stewardship of Creation, held in 2002 immediately prior to the second World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), it was recognised that caring for creation is “core Gospel business”.
Until recently we have totally disregarded, side-lined and neglected the fact that we worship a creator God. Creation is fundamental. It is life. It is the very source of our being. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). And it is the very purpose of the Incarnation. “For God so loved the world (Cosmos) that he gave his only Son“. (John 3.16).
Yet our current seasons in the Christian Church all deal with the life of Jesus – his birth, his ministry, his suffering and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is Christ centred. Yet Jesus constantly refers to his Father, who holds all things his hands, showing the centrality of God, particularly in John’s Gospel. God is at the centre. We come to God through Jesus. It is God at the centre, with Jesus showing the way. (See John Hick’s book “God at the Centre”).
Nowhere do we acknowledge this incredible creator God that we worship and to whom we owe our lives. Nowhere do we have a Sunday dedicated to God the father and creator. We have Trinity Sunday, which I delight in, but that is for our Trinitarian belief.
Mary Evelyn Tucker at Yale University’s Department of Religion and Ecology has produced a wonderful video and book “Journey of the Universe”. Watch the video and be filled with the wonder of this God who is a creator God, the source of creativity, and be filled with amazement at this life that has taken 13.8 billion years to reach its beauty and perfection of today. It is a process of creativity which, Jesus showed us, is to be filled with love.
Some years ago when talking about “A Season of Creation”, I was asked when the church last marked a new “season”? I replied, “at a guess about 1800 years ago”!
It is about time! The fact that we humans are bringing about the destruction of God’s creation deserves our full attention. Hopefully, by marking a Season of Creation we will become more conscious of what an amazing God we worship, and more committed to following God’s command to us “to keep it” (Genesis 2:15) for future generations and for the glory of God.
The Pope’s video is so simple yet beautiful. Culminating with the feast of St Francis on 4th October, I hope the season
will enable us to heighten our consciousness and awareness of the teaching of Jesus to care for and love all of life.
I hope you can distribute the Pope’s video – and his Encyclical Laudato Si – as widely as possible. One of the wonderful things about Laudato Si is that Pope Francis is not just addressing the Catholic faithful but all people. It is addressed to all.
Marking The Season gives an opportunity to meet with other faiths – and don’t we need to seek peace with other faiths at this time of increasing and dangerous religious conflict around the world? We in SAFCEI have the major faiths represented and we wonder why there is so much tension and conflict between faiths. We hold so much more in common than differences. Of diverse faiths we are united by our common commitment to cherish living earth.
We now have an elephant in the room that is becoming aggressive and even ferocious. We need to concentrate our minds on that elephant – the threats of climate change and environmental destruction – and unite to meet it. Climate change is so real and such a threat that people of all faiths, races, nations, cultures and languages need to be coming together to confront it. Just as in the past allies came together to confront an external threat, so now we need to come together to meet the most formidable threat we humans have faced.
You might ask why I am being so emphatic. It is because I believe the involvement of the faith communities is crucial if we are to turn the tide of environmental destruction. Politicians don’t deal with it as it may be seen as unpopular and commerce does not want to reduce its profits. Hopefully faith communities speak the truth and can proclaim “Thus saith The Lord”, just as Archbishop Desmond Tutu did to the Apartheid government. He is now calling for justice for creation.
Since we worship a creator God, we must know that it is the Creator’s creation that is being so abused and threatened. It is for us to take action to care for it, respect it, preserve it and “keep” it for our children and their children.
May we all be strengthened to take on this challenge.
Bishop Geoff Davies