Priest's Perspective

Listen to God speak through nature. 9 September 2020

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;  the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. — Job 12:7-10 (ESV)

I had a very blessed childhood. Though I grew up in the city, I learned to love nature, and I learned that God shared his creative powers with us. My parents were avid gardeners and built beautiful gardens through hard work. I learned to work hard with my dad in the garden of our city homes. I learned that you can, turn a barren place into a loved placed, if you tend it and nurture it and appreciate it.

I grew up with a love for horses (you either love them or hate them. I was once told, “they bite in the front, kick at the back and are uncomfortable in the middle.) But there is no happier place for me than with horses. I have really missed my horses since we moved to Toti, so much part of my life and my family’s life. Our holidays consist of spending hours in the saddle reconnecting with nature. Horses, like dogs, require a symbiotic relationship. Learning to work with a horse in a partnership is a wonderful experience and they instil in you a deep sense of respect for God’s handiwork.

I grew up with exposure to wildlife and through WESSA, Birding Club, Scouting and my Agricultural College, developed a love and respect for God’s creation which we were created to “till and to tend.” In all these activities though, I learned not to be a spectator. The garden grows weeds on its own but beautiful beds of flowers when you honour God by working with him to till and to tend. Our Wildlife needs protection and care to protect it from human impact, be it pollution, poaching or simply self-centeredness that does not consider the needs of others, human, plant or animal.

I learned that life is about balance and equilibrium. Not equality the way people express it today. Everything in creation has its place and its purpose. Life is in balance when each component plays its part. When one part fails it stresses the rest and creates a stressed environment. Reconciliation is the task of resetting the balance and order. Seeing the intrinsic value of all things and understanding the complexities of the web of life.

We can learn a great lesson from one of the biggest negative impacts that we have had on nature, the little known issue of Bio Diversity. Human nature and thinking is prone to monoculture. Uniformity and sameness. Nature thrives when there is diversity. When there are complimentary inhabitants that fulfil a wide range of functions. For today I just want to sow the thought, and ask you to meditate on it. Is your lifestyle your action trying to make the world around you uniform, or are you appreciating that diversity is essential for existence? In nature, the less diversity the less capable the system is to deal with stresses, of seasons and life and death. Think of the circle of life and the role that different things play and how important they are. Microbes in the soil, insects, lizards, birds, rodents, antelope and carnivores each have a place. Balance is needed between all the components of life.

How is your web of life? Allow nature to teach you, it is there outside your window, down your street, on the beach on the riverbank. Take a walk in nature with God and listen to what God is teaching you.

Let us pray

As we meet you in nature, inspire us to see anew our place in the web of life. 

In our daily lives, help us to make daily choices that reflect global solidarity. 

As we reflect on the teaching of our faith,  equip us to advocate for laws and policies that reflect your call to faithful stewardship. 

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives  and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen. 

Priest's Perspective

Season of Creation – a Year of Jubilee – All are called to care for the earth as an act of Worship

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.(Romans 8:19)

“Earth keeping” or “creation care” is a wonderful term to describe what we have long described as conservation or environmental concern. The problem with the environmental topic is that it has long been an issue remote from the common person. Caring for the environment was caring for nature reserves and faraway places. Conservation meant preserving some areas from human activity. Conservation was the work of the few who loved nature and wanted the world to be what it used to be. This attitude still prevails among many people. With all our social issues, the Church also focused more on people issues than environmental. That attitude has cost us, and our water resources are contaminated, our air polluted, our atmosphere is affected by CFC’s and there is a hole in the ozone. Greenhouse gases are causing Climate Change and deforestation is causing the earths lungs to fail. Again, these issues all sound like more than the average person can understand or address. “The Politicians the Scientists and the Giants of industry must do something.”

But in Genesis the fathers of our faith let us know quite clearly that the care of the earth was given to all humanity, not just to some. Dominion over the earths resources was given to all humankind, not a select few, called out. When St Paul lists the gifts and ministries given and says that some are given the gift of apostleship and some teaching, and some leading, he implies that there are different ministries, creation care is not one of them, it is not the work of some, called out to do it for all. All of us have our role to play. Some must be prophetic about it some must show leadership some must teach but all must participate, it is the work of all the baptised to care for the earth and reveal God’s love for His creation through His people.

Creation care is an act of worship, an act of respect, a way of saying, “I love you Lord and I respect what you have given me.” Environmental degradation comes from a lack of respect for God and His cosmos. We need to repent of our hypocrisy and hear creation groaning awaiting us to respond to God by living a life of worship of God through our actions towards the earth.

Do not be overwhelmed by the supposed magnitude of the problem. Become part of the solution. Environmental degradation is caused by a selfish and thoughtless way of life, we can change that.

The earth is the Lords and everything that dwells therein. (Ps 24:1) Honour God by respecting that which He has created.

let us pray

Creator God,

During this Season of Creation, we ask you to grant us courage to observe a Sabbath

for our planet. Strengthen us with the faith to trust in your providence. Inspire us

with the creativity to share what we have been given. Teach us to be satisfied with

enough. And as we proclaim a Jubilee for the Earth, send Your Holy Spirit to renew

the face of creation. Amen.