This I believe, I shall see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Put your hope in God, be strong, let you heart be bold, put your hope in God. Psalm 27:13–14
I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered nor will they come to mind. Isaiah 65:17
In Diana Butler Bass’s book, The Future of Faith as the Way of Salvation, she reflects on a church on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. The implications of its future in this time of climate crisis apply to us all:
“As I have ruminated on Tangier Island, I realize that far too many religious leaders are asking the wrong question. The future of Christianity matters little if there are no human beings, whether we extinct ourselves through war or environmental disaster. We can fix our denominations, bring new members to church, write the best theologies ever—and none of it will matter one whit if we are all dead. The question— “What is the future of Christianity?”—must be held in relation to other questions. Right now, the most significant of those questions is: “What is the future of humankind?”
That is the existential question of our time. All other questions pale by comparison and distract us from hearing the voices of God, the earth, and other creatures with the kind of rigor and compassion necessary for the living of these particular days. To me, the question about the future of Christianity has become: “What must Christians do to serve all creation when the island itself is in danger of sinking?”
Theologian Sallie McFague (1933–2019) in, A New Climate for Theology, was inspired by Isaiah’s prophetic vision of new heavens and earth—and what it requires of us:
“The world we want, that we ache for, is a world where children get to grow up and live to old age, where people have food and houses and enjoyable work, where animals and plants and human beings live together on the earth in harmony, where none “shall hurt or destroy” [Isaiah 65:25]. This is our dream, our deepest desire, the image we cannot let go of. This vision of the good life makes us unwilling to settle for the unjust, unsustainable, and indeed cruel and horrendous world we have...
Isaiah’s hymn to a new creation and Jesus’ parables of the reign of God touch this deepest desire in each of us for a different, better world. It would be a world in which human dignity and the integrity of creation are central, a world in which the intrinsic value of all human beings and of the creation itself is recognized and appreciated... Do we have any hope for a different, better world? Given the situation we face at the beginning of the twenty-first century of war, violence, AIDS, capitalist greed, and now the specter of global warming, it seems absurd to even bother with such a question. And yet we read in the Isaiah passage [65:17–25] that in the midst of painting this wonderful picture of life beyond our wildest dreams, God says, “Before they call, I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” “While they are yet speaking”—we have only to ask for God to answer! But we must ask with our whole being; a better world must become our deepest desire. And this means, of course, we must work at it; we must give our whole selves to it.”
Through this Lent St. Stephen’s invites you to join a Carbon Fast. It can be downloaded here: https://www.kairoscanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/SUS-CJ-KAIROS_CarbonFast_SingleSheets_WEB.pdf
This week we are encouraged to look at our travel carbon footprint. A carbon footprint link is provided to help you calculate your consumption. Flying - is it necessary? Two car family – can reduce to one car? Drive to work – can you carpool, take the bus, change to energy efficient car? Advocacy: talk to your municipality about better public transportation.
Heavenly Father, the everlasting God,
thank You for the amazing, beautiful design of the entire universe,
from the largest galaxy to the tiniest subatomic particle,
from the vast oceans to our DNA,
from lightning that fixes nitrogen in soils to make plants grow better
to the delicate fingers of infants growing in their mothers’ wombs!
All these things display Your glory, and we consciously add our voices to theirs.
Thank You for life. Thank You for time. Thank You for energy.
Thank You for truth and the ability to know it.
Please make us good stewards of all these things, and more, to use them wisely,
loving You and loving our neighbors.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash