With a month to go to Creation Time (also known as the Season of Creation) recently endorsed by Church leaders from around the world including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, we reflect on biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth.
The loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate, says the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). A recent report suggests that chimps and orangutans are among species in danger of being wiped out.
Even if biodiversity did not matter to God these would be very worrying statistics because our own well-being and our long-term survival depend on nature’s health and the ecosystem services it provides – fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink, unpolluted land to grow crops and so on. However, the fact is that God does care about every single species on this planet – look at the story of Noah’s ark if you want evidence of that – and that sending even one species unnecessarily towards extinction clouds the clarity of God’s character as displayed in nature.
The sad fact is that if, as human beings, we fail to allow creation to flourish, we cast shadows on the light of God’s self-revelation in nature, we dull our senses to the wisdom that God has revealed uniquely in every single species, and we ultimately make our own future untenable.
Frogs croaking, Lions roaring, Octopuses grappling, Urchins slinking, Ravens croaking, Insects buzzing, Sun shining, Humans loving, Icicles sparkling, Night glistening, God smiling. Click To Tweet
Prayer of reflection
(A word picture to move hearts to praise)
It has been said that what we need today is not just an ecological movement. We need an ecological Pentecost – an outpouring of God’s Spirit on all flesh, to completely re-orientate our thinking and our living. As Christians we need to rediscover and celebrate the beauty of nature – the flourishing that is already there in creation. It is surely tragic that most churches only worship indoors and sometimes even work hard to keep God’s creation outside – battling against bats in the belfry or pigeons in the pulpit when just perhaps God might be seeking to say something to us through his creation!! God is not remote from us, but active in sending the Holy Spirit and renewing the face of the earth (as Psalm 104:30 puts it), providing for all of life including humanity. The vision of the Bible – in Genesis, in Job, in the Psalms and in Jesus’ teaching is profoundly relational – creation living in sustainable balance because of God’s creating, caring, sending, sustaining and rejoicing. We need to recover that sense of God’s transforming presence in all creation – naming it when we sense it, and seeking to encourage nature to flourish so that all can discern God’s presence.
People working with Christian environmental charities often find that when people see Christians actively involved in caring for creation, it frequently triggers a deep response. There are many, many people who dimly discern something of God’s presence in creation but who would never go near a church. However, when Christians link creation to Christ, the penny starts to drop. When we see a beautiful sunset, or a snowdrop pushing up through the wintry soil, or a tiny bird that has just migrated thousands of miles from Africa to England – we are glimpsing something of God’s creating, sustaining, transforming work in creation.
God has created this astonishingly diverse world in love, and it reveals his character. He is not just creator, but also sustainer – something we desperately need in our search for sustainability – and so we are called to be his co-workers in protecting, conserving and enhancing creation’s flourishing. If we do so, then we too can begin to flourish in new ways as God’s Spirit fills us and as we find out more of God’s character revealed in creation’s flourishing.
This Weekly Focus comes from our Creation Time resources from 2010 with parts of the introduction and the reflection originally written by the Revd Dave Bookless and the prayer of reflection written by the Revd David Pickering.