What is the situation?
The last National Church Life Survey (NCLS) revealed that 80% of church attendees desire the church to offer leadership and to speak up about environmental concerns. Obviously our brothers and sisters in faith are looking for both guidance and action.
Guidance must be based on our source book, the Bible. The teachings of the Bible on environmental care and sustainability are clear and compelling, but have by and large been given a back seat as we continue to emphasize the old anthropocentric models of theology. That is understandable in this period of falling membership and finances, but it is not good enough. Climate change is real, it’s here, and maintaining the status quo means only climate catastrophe!
A Biblical basis
There are big themes of theology to be rediscovered and taught.
The earth is the Lord’s – which means we must walk upon it with respect and care (Ps 24: 1, Ps. 50: 9-11, Leviticus 25: 23, Exodus 19: 5, Deuteronomy 10: 12-14, 1 Samuel 2: 8)
Everything that God made is good – there is no good, better and best in God’s creation; thus human superiority is a myth (Gen 1: 9-31)
The ‘garden’ is to be cared for – that is the whole of earth, and its intricate web of life of which we are a small part (Gen 2: 15)
God’s invitation - to have dominion as God has dominion over all creation by loving, cherishing and nurturing it (Gen 1: 26)
God’s covenant is with all creation (Gen 9: 8-17)
Jesus, the Christ, is the co-creator (John 1: 1-3, Hebrews 1: 2,10)
Things to ponder
“The first half of the 20th century consumed more natural resources than in the whole of human history”. Really, is anyone going to claim that this rate is sustainable?
We believe that the voices of Indigenous peoples, whose care for country remains integral to their spirituality and relationship with God, are central to our ministry of climate justice.
Our responsibility to care for God’s Creation has been overlooked or ignored. We have acted as if Christ only died to save the human race. The truth of the redemption of all things in Christ, which is the message of the life-giving cross, must be reclaimed.
“Earth’s crowded with heaven, and every common bush aflame with God, but only those who see take off their shoes and recognize that they are standing on Holy Ground.” - Elizabeth Browning-Barrett
“Creation is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.” - Pope Francis
The covetous desires of people and nations
to possess what is not their own, Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands
and lays waste the earth, Father, forgive.
What to do?
We need to reaffirm that the church is people. Too often have we encouraged our churches to act responsibly by changing light bulbs in our buildings, while in our own homes we have continued with environmentally disastrous activities.
Choose an electricity retailer that is committed to renewable sources
Reduce usage of gas and electricity
Improve insulation of houses
Install PV solar panels
Install solar water heating
Use fans rather than air conditioners
Grow your own vegetables or buy those grown locally
Buy less packaged and prepared food
Eat less meat and fish
Buy locally-made products
Buy products that last, not throw-aways
Don’t buy bottled water; drink tap water or rain water