Possible world course: the environment

God loves world

Last Sunday saw the second ‘Possible world’ session in the church at 6pm.  The theme was ‘The environment: for God so loved the world.’

The session began with a warm-up question. ‘What is your response to environmental warnings that you see on the TV or read about in the papers?’

Caretakers of God’s creation

There followed a reflection on the fact that ‘God intended humans to be stewards, or caretakers, of God’s good creation. We were meant to discover and realise its potential, and to protect and care for it. Unfortunately, development has proceeded in such a way that much of God’s good creation has been damaged and endangered. Care for the earth is a massive issue today, and there is huge concern about the sustainability of the planet for future generations. With as many of us as there are on this planet, much of the way we live now is not sustainable.’

The groups read Matthew 25:14-30 and then reflected on the following questions:

How helpful is it to think of ourselves as being stewards or managers of God’s creation?

While we are expected to be good stewards of creation, we cannot bring about environmental transformation simply by our own efforts. The prophets pointed to God as the one who would make the future transformation of this world possible and the resurrection of Jesus confirms powerfully the hope that God will ultimately set all creation free from corruption and death. To what extend do you share this prophetic hope? How might it help you or hinder you from engaging in care for creation today?

Making a difference on a damaged planet

There followed a video, where two speakers, Dave Bookless and Johnny Sertin reflected on creation care, and then the following questions were given to stimulate further discussion:

Dave grew up believing that ‘evangelism and caring for people were what the gospel was entirely about.’ He has since had a change in worldview, recognising that the gospel is ‘not about escaping this world to go off to heaven. It’s about this world being transformed by the power of God. It’s about the kingdom coming to earth as it is in heaven.’  Which of these worldviews do you most relate to, and why?

Both Dave and Johnny reflect on a community response to creation care: the regeneration of a large wasteland that is now the Minet Country park, and the farming of a small piece of derelict church land. What practical examples of creation care have you seen or done in your own community? Or what community action could you take?

Dave is not hugely optimistic about the current state of our planet. Much of God’s good creation has been damaged and endangered and there is huge concern about the sustainability of the planet for future generations. In spite of this, Dave emphasises the need to be obedient to God in caring for the environment. What is your response to this?

Dave draws attention to political and industrial dimensions: ‘We live in a joined up world where the decisions that our governments make and the decisions that powerful corporations  make…impact whole ecosystems.’  Dave offers the advice to ‘Pray, be informed, use contacts, and become part of a bigger network.’   How could you use this advice?

Although Dace explains that his motivation to care for creation stems from being obedient, rather than success, he explains that he does have hope for creation in the horizon of eternity, confident that ‘God is going to redeem and restore and renew the whole creation.’  What is your response to this? What motivates you to care for creation?

Suggestions for action

Pray   If you are involved in a church or other Christian community, help get environmental issues on the Sunday or weekly prayer programme. If you are part of a small group, commit to praying regularly for creation.

Get informed Visit websites and subscribe to Twitter and Facebook feeds that will keep you better informed about environmental issues.

Join a local conservation activity Find out what is going on in your local community and join in.

Learn the waste hierarchy:  Reduce, re-use, recycle. Sometimes we get so obsessed by recycling that we forget it’s better to buy less in the first place.

Go local  Use your local shops, not the out-of-town stores, to reduce your carbon footprint and get to know your area better? Can you support local producers and save on food miles?

Join a campaign  What environmental issues really get your goat?  Find a campaign that you and/or your group can support.

Join the Living Lightly online community for practical tips and advice on how to live in a more eco-friendly way.

Books:

Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s world by Dave Bookless

When Enough is Enough: a Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability edited by R. J. Berry

 

 

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