Care for creation, or there will simply be no creation left for us to care for

Mary Copping with others, 15 September 2019

Genesis 1: 1–25; Psalm 65; Luke 12: 22–31

The season of Creation, or Creationtide, which runs from 1 September to 4 October, is celebrated by Christian churches around the world, united with one purpose: to look after the earth. We’re encouraged to hold prayer services, do prayer walks, open quiet gardens – anything to bring people’s attention more and more to God’s creation and how we’re taking care of it, how we’re stewarding what God has given us. So this is our reason for holding a Green Communion today.

Psalm 65, which we have just heard, is a celebration of all the wonderful things in creation. As we look at the wonders of his world, we see the amazing creativity of God. So here at this service we are focusing on the beauty of creation and how we’re taking care of it. Here are some views on this, mostly from younger members of St Paul’s Church.

Aaron Burrows: ‘If present trends continue, by the turn of the century we will face an environmental catastrophe as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust.’ These are very strong words, written over 30 years ago by Father Sean McDonagh, the takeaway point of this statement being that if we do not begin truly to take up our role as stewards and care for creation, as was divinely instructed, there will simply be no creation left for us to care for.

Fortunately, it seems we are starting to take our role in nurturing the environment far more seriously than in previous decades. Christians are increasingly becoming aware of their role to play in the prevention of environmental destruction. No longer are we taught to ‘subdue’, ‘dominate’ and ‘conquer’ the earth; instead we are slowly beginning to take seriously the dependence we have on creation, appreciating that we are called to act as viceroys of God. And this is a commission to care that we cannot refuse, but must continue to honour.

No longer are we taught to ‘subdue’, ‘dominate’ and ‘conquer’ the earth. It seems we are starting to take our role in nurturing the environment far more seriously.

Thomas Kettlewell: The effects of global warming are having impacts on sea turtles and other wildlife. Global warming is happening faster than the speed that animals can naturally adapt to the changes. Sea turtles use ocean currents to travel and find food. Warmer sea temperatures change currents, making it harder for turtles to find food and forcing them to travel away from their normal habitats.

Anna McKenzie: I feel that we need to take better care of all our animals, as so many of them are close to extinction. Locally the most important is our hedgehogs, seeing as last year they were predicted at risk of going extinct in the next decade. But there are things you can do to help right now. Tips about how to save the hedgehogs:

  • slow down when you are driving, particularly at night when hedgehogs might be crossing the road
  • put out hedgehog bites that you can get from garden shops
  • buy hedgehog houses to put in your front garden to protect them from cats and dogs during the daytime, because they are nocturnal
  • lastly, maybe ask your neighbours if you could make or widen a hole in your/their fence so that it’s easier for the hedgehogs to move around without needing to go along the road.

Friedrich Priesemann: My generation’s future is looking bleak due to a culture of ‘someone else will solve our problems’ or ‘other people are worse than me’.

Everyone must act to save God’s planet. Simple things such as cycling, walking or taking the bus to town or church or any short distance help a great deal if everyone does them. We should act by building bike stands and not enlarging car parks; by planting trees and not cutting them down, by expanding cycle paths and not roads, by improving international rail links and not building new runways. Small changes and more planning help a lot. Thank you.

Max Priesemann: Norma Goodwin, who unfortunately could not be here today, and I are your environmental officers. You may know me from the Eco Church articles in the parish magazine.

Concerns about pollution, climate change and biodiversity on our unique planet can be overwhelming – but let’s have a look back. Many of you will remember the Beyond Ourselves survey from about five years ago. One of the outcomes was that you wanted us, as a parish, to do more for the environment and to respect God’s creation.

We signed up to the A Rocha Eco Church survey in 2017 which covers five areas: worship, buildings, land, community and global, and lifestyle. We have been working towards gaining the credits required to reach the threshold for Bronze in each of these areas. We have taken many small steps that make a noticeable difference, some on our own at home and others together here at church:

  • switch to renewable energy suppliers
  • installation of LED lights
  • printing on recycled paper
  • bug hotel
  • blue tits nesting in newly installed bird boxes
  • beautiful china and biodegradable glasses instead of single-use plastic
  • encouragement to use cars less often by walking or cycling to church and car sharing
  • first Plastic-free Lent Challenge this year
  • planning for eco-friendly features in the Building for Life project
  • celebration of God’s creation, like today
  • support for campaigns and charities like WaterHarvest projects in Rajasthan, WinACC and Christian Aid (CA engages with communities that already suffer from climate change consequences and raises awareness)

Now, the good news is that all these little steps mean we are already close to reaching Bronze. Thank you all for every little step you have taken. It has encouraged me to carry on and do more. Let’s do more together – for every creature that God has surrounded us with.

What is our response? The first reaction is often to feel guilty and think there is nothing we can do. However, God is calling us, as Christians, to take care of his creation, but not calling us to feel guilty. Ours is to do what we can, trusting God to lead and guide us, showing us how we can play our part in this.

Some of you may have heard about the idea of the web of life – that we are all connected on earth – meaning all of creation, not just humanity. This means that whatever is on the planet has a role, however insignificant this role may seem to us, whether we understand it or not, and all are valuable. And if this is so, how much more are we to be aware of our place in the world and how we relate to people, animal, plants – the whole of creation.

God calls us to appreciate and love what he has created, perhaps going for a prayer walk in his beautiful creation and thanking him for all that he has made. God also calls us to live more simply. What are the things in our lives that we don’t need? How can we as individuals live more balanced lives? Ours is not to despair, but to do whatever seems possible for us.

Let us ask God to help us to trust him to lead and guide on what each of us can do; to continue to pray, which is what we can all do – pray for our world, our country, our government; and to thank God for our young people so concerned for our world and so willing to do something drastic about it. Let us pledge to support them however we can. Amen.