Dear Friends in Christ,
The period between 1st September and 4th October has been designated as ‘Creationtide’, writes Rev John McHale. For those of an older generation it will chime with the time in which ‘Harvest Festivals’ used to take place, and indeed the emphasis is still on thanking God for his goodness, his creation and his generosity towards all of his people. I will return to this a little later!
If you listen carefully to the Eucharistic prayer, you will hear some differences of wording to reflect this season. Additionally, if you look at the latest edition of ‘Inspires’ – the newsletter of the SEC – you will see that they are also providing resources to help Church communities to work towards net zero 2030.
It would be very easy indeed to see all of this as yet another imposition of extra work on already overworked Vestry members to ‘tick boxes’ and be seen to be doing the ‘right thing’!
Tempting though that attitude may be, we really should try and resist it at all costs. Bishop David, the former Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, recently said on BBC Radio Scotland when asked about the ‘tipping point’ in the climate crisis: “The arrival of that tipping point means that what was known but deliberately unknown for so long becomes appalling and unacceptable. It happens very quickly and it is irreversible. Look at Hawaii and Canada, wildfires in southern Europe. How much more will it take before that tipping point arrives for us?”
The provincial youth week recently gathered at a camp to participate in worship, activities and group discussion entitled ‘The Quest’. It was an attempt to inspire, motivate and provide a model of spiritual growth for Scottish Episcopal youth.
I wonder what they might want to say to us about their hopes, dreams and concerns for the future? Hopes pertaining to worship, attitudes and acceptance and, I suspect, concerns regarding climate change being at the top of the list.
So what are we to do about this? How can we change hearts and minds, including our own, when it comes to this seemingly overwhelming challenge?
Firstly, perhaps we need to recognise the difference between dominion and stewardship. Dominion implies ‘domination’ – having command of the planet’s resources and using them exactly as we wish. Stewardship, in contrast, makes it clear that we are taking care of creation for others – for God and for those who will come after us.
Unfortunately, there is one group who claim to be Christian, and yet see climate change as a way of bringing the end of the world more quickly and thus ensuring their passage into heaven more rapidly. Thankfully, this is very much a minority viewpoint! I think that most of us would want to not only say thank you to God in this season, but to also live that thankfulness through the ways in which we treat his planet, share his resources and protect them for the future. The decisions that we make now will undoubtedly affect those whom we claim to love in the decades to come long after we have gone. May that remain in the forefront of our hearts and minds, not only in this season, but in all seasons. Amen.
John (Assistant Priest)