By Rev Fiona Bennett (From Seeds September – October 2022)
The season of Creationtide draws to a close on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St Francis, on Tuesday 4 October.
St Francis was an Italian Catholic Friar who lived in the 12th century. He proposed that creation was God’s first incarnation and Christ the second. In this, he was not trying to undermine Jesus’ significance but to make the point that the whole of creation is an expression of who God is; all life’s source, creator and parent.
This led Francis to value all aspects of this earth as precious and imbued with divine artistry and love; and to understand the interaction, interdependence and balance of all the life which makes up the earth as an expression of the mind of God.
This year, as we approach Creationtide, in the midst of record summer temperatures, droughts and floods, I am amazed at myself and the whole of our world at how apathetic we seem to be to take significant action to protect ourselves and the many life forms we are dependent upon.
As one of the richest nations in the world, why are so many houses still poorly insulated and carbon clean sustainable energy sources not our sole sources of power? I feel this frustration as someone whose loft is not as well insulated as it could be, but who finds the thought and cost of clearing it and relaying the floor very overwhelming.
I am part of the problem, but there are also much bigger forces at play which are making sustainable choices inaccessible to people who are unable to cover the basic costs of life.
“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”St. Francis of Assisi
The words of St Francis above challenge me that talk about environmental justice without action is meaningless, hollow. In fact, in our current situation, it is worse than hollow; it is corrupt, as it is destroying God’s world.
As I face this season of Creationtide, I am challenged to take more action in my own life and to campaign for much more action by the human powers which influence our world.
However, another quote from St Francis leads my mind to hope. St Francis also said: ‘A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.’
One sunbeam which I have encountered during my travels as Moderator has been to meet with some people in the URC who are 25 years and under.
In them I have met people who are willing and ready to back up their words with actions – and not just one-off actions, but the willingness to accept that less obvious and sometimes less comfortable and convenient ways of living are what they choose, so that other life can live.
In January, eco church organisation A Rocha commended the URC’s Youth Executive for the leadership that URC Youth Assembly and its Executive have shown in encouraging the whole Church to act swiftly to develop how it cares for the environment
They are challenging themselves to make choices which are less driven by how much they earn or how much power they gain over others, but by what they can give and create and what balance they can find.
Sunbeams which refresh me with the potential in our humanity for goodness.
If Francis is correct and creation is God’s first incarnation, then it shouts at us about the importance of interdependence and the inbuilt realities of resurrection and evolution. The brief lull in travel during the pandemic showed how extraordinarily quickly the earth seeks to restore its health when it is permitted; another sunbeam which drove away many shadows, born from the tragedy of Covid.
God has built perpetual hope into this world and in Jesus has shown us how to live that Way of hope. The Good News is all around us. Our challenge is to live in it, to act and not just talk about it, and in our action to be amazed at the transformation and joy God can grow.