The climate crisis demands our repentance, our sacrifice, our love

Liz Stuart, 7 February 2021

Proverbs 8: 1, 22–31; Colossians 1: 15–20; John 1: 1–14

There never was just God; God was never alone. For God to be God, God has to burst his banks, bubbling over into something else. Before all else there was חכמה / Sophia / Wisdom. She was beside him when he created our planet. God delights in Wisdom and she delights in creation. In the beginning was sheer joy, dancing, delight and words of love, and all the reality we inhabit and every creature in it was born of this felicity. Then he, the Spirit who had flung stars into space, set particles spinning and knit strings of DNA. He took the hand of all he had created and took a deep dive into flesh, springing into history with glee, drawing all to himself, to weight matter with God’s glory through his life, death and resurrection.

The Spirit who had flung stars into space set particles spinning and knit strings of DNA. He took the hand of all he had created and took a deep dive into flesh, drawing all to himself, to weight matter with God’s glory.

There is much that is Advent and Christmas, that is incarnation-focused, about our reflections on creation. But there’s also much that must be about Lent, about repentance and sacrifice. There’s something about humanity that cannot bear God in flesh, that shrinks away from divine delight in all that has been made from love, that prefers to scuttle into the shadows rather than bask in the light, that worships death rather than life, that seeks to exploit rather than love. All that we inflicted upon God made flesh among us. And we continue to inflict it on his creation – the expression of his effervescent love – even as we stand before the bright night sky and our bodies respond because we are made from the ashes of dead stars, even as we glory in a beautiful vista, or the soft earth beneath our gardening hands, or hold our pets close. We love creation but we are so reluctant to do what God did and sacrifice our privilege for it.

We draw near towards Lent, the time when we enter the great story of the passion and resurrection of Jesus and remind ourselves that it’s our story as much as his because he incorporated us into it, a time when in preparation for entering into those great mysteries of our redemption we try to repent – μετανοία in Greek, which literally means, ‘to change one’s mind’. We try to refocus our hearts and our minds on how we as individuals and as Church, as the Body of Christ, embody and proclaim that great mystery in our own time.

And in our own time climate change crucifies God’s creation, God’s outpouring of himself, in so many ways. The climate crisis demands our repentance, it demands our minds and our hearts to change and it demands our sacrifice, our willingness to put something other than ourselves first. In other words, it demands our love.

Therefore, our Green group and the parish clergy are asking the parish to consider giving up meat for Lent. Because of the energy consumed and the emissions generated by meat production (and I’ve written much more about this in the magazine this month), giving up meat is one of the most effective acts against climate change that an individual can take. There’s a long tradition in Christianity of giving up meat for Lent. To honour Christ’s sacrifice of his flesh for us, flesh was eschewed during this holy time. In giving up meat, the parish acknowledges that Christ still suffers in the earth which groans in travail, and we repent for our part in it. It’s a sacrificial and a prophetic gesture of repentance. And if you can’t manage 40 days without meat, then perhaps a week or a day a week, or even just think about giving up red meat. We will be publishing links to resources and recipes each week in the welcome sheet. Please try. At a time when we can’t be together, this is something we can do together.

Our saviour is not just a human Christ; he is the Cosmic Christ (as our readings make very clear), the Cosmic Christ ‘through whom all things, all things, hold together’. As the theologian Matthew Fox has noted, he is the light in all things and the wound in all things. To draw near to our wounded earth in a spirit of repentance is to draw nearer and to draw deeper into to the light of Christ.

I’d like to finish with a poem by Joyce Rupp. It’s called, ‘A poem for Lent’.

The cosmos dreams in me
while I wait in stillness,
ready to lean a little further
into the heart of the Holy.

I, a little blip of life,
a wisp of unassuming love,
a quickly passing breeze,
come once more into Lent.

No need to sign me
with the black bleeding ash
of palms, fried and baked.
I know my humus place.

This Lent I will sail
on the graced wings of desire,
yearning to go deeper
to the place where
I am one in the One.

Oh, may I go there soon,
in the same breath
that takes me to the stars
when the cosmos dreams in me.