With a recent news report suggesting that the world is 'nowhere near on track' to avoid warming beyond the 1.5C target, action on climate change is more urgent than ever Click To Tweet
As we enter the final week of Creation Time (or the Season of Creation) our Weekly Focus is again based on the resources produced by Eco-Congregation Scotland.
With recent news suggesting that the world is ‘nowhere near on track’ to avoid warming beyond the 1.5C target, action on climate change is more urgent than ever.
However, as Christians, are we at risk of becoming an insular faith that only speaks to itself, or do we open ourselves up to working with others of different faiths and none, for the common good? Many of us will be aware of the value and richness of working with individuals and groups from all backgrounds, in our concern for the environment. This reflection reminds us that God works where God will, often in the places that most surprise us.
As Christians, are we at risk of becoming an insular faith that only speaks to itself, or do we open ourselves up to working with others of different faiths and none, for the common good? Click To Tweet
So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.’ Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have won your favour, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.’ Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!’ Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
Esther 7:1-6 (NRSVA)
Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, ‘Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.’ And the king said, ‘Hang him on that.’ So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.
Esther 9-10 (NRSVA)
Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.
Esther 9:20-22 (NRSVA)
This reading from the book of Esther reflects on a main concern in the whole book: how can one be a faithful Jew in a foreign environment? Picking up on other writings of the time, the book considers different solutions. One of the most obvious might have been to cut themselves off completely from mainstream society, and create communities where they could be protected from the pollution of another faith and culture.
Esther makes a different argument however. It contends instead that the Jewish people should become active participants in the affairs of society. It challenges them to recognise the good elements of the society in which they live, and to cooperate where possible. At the same time they are encouraged to take responsibility and tackle the problems they face rather than waiting for God to produce miraculous solutions: to use the skills and talents they have been gifted by God. We see this demonstrated in Esther herself as she works to challenge the injustice she sees and to protect her fellow Jews with imagination, diplomacy and trust in the fairness of life.
For us today, we might read this as a challenge to Christians not to cut ourselves off from mainstream society, speaking only to ourselves. Instead we might ask, how do we recognise what is good in our society? How might we look for ways to work with those from different faiths and none, who also have a desire to cooperate for the common good. This is all the more important for those of us engaged in work for environmental protection. We know that it is only by being part of wider movements, made up many different groups and individuals that we can make change happen. In Scotland alone, the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has brought together faiths, campaign groups and individuals of all backgrounds to campaign together on climate change
Finally, as we consider our desire to pass our planet on to future generations, we might consider what we learn from Esther. How does it encourage us to move out of our generational comfort zones and work with those both older and younger than us? What can we learn from the God given gift and talents of other generations that will enable us to work together and better protect our environment?
This reflection is based on the resources for Creation Time 2018 from Eco-Congregation Scotland.