Written by Bishop Peter Stuart
We have a beautiful gum tree in our back garden. It first took root long before rows of houses were built in our street. It dominates our suburban block. I like looking at the tree. I love the bark that falls of it. I enjoy seeing the birds in it, especially the kookaburras. I am intrigued by the way it moves in the wind. This tree is, for me, a powerful reminder and daily invitation to think about and care for creation.
Over a number of decades, the worldwide Anglican Communion has fashioned some simple statements to describe how we might participate in share in God’s mission to the world. These statements are called the ‘Five Marks of Mission’ and the fifth statement says, we will ‘strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’ Anglicans see environmental responsibility as an important aspect of Christian discipleship.
The Diocesan Strategic Directions seek to embody this thinking in the statement of healthy ministry practices. Every congregation in the Diocese was asked to embrace all 7 practices, using them as a central resource in their ministry and mission planning. Our shared hope is that every congregation will recognise their call to live as caring stewards of God’s creation.
At the recent Diocesan Convention, we were helped in our thinking with a presentation about how Anglicans in our region can talk about coal mining. Anglican EcoCare, the Diocesan Environment Commission, were present with a stall with books and pamphlets on good ideas. There were some good conversations among people about solar panels and water tanks in parishes.
There are parishes across the Diocese who are devoting time this September to thinking about creation as part of Sunday services. Within the scriptures we are often reminded that humanity and creation are intertwined.
A few years ago, Professor Norm Habel, a Lutheran theologian and biblical scholar addressed the Synod about environmental theology. He has crafted many prayers with strong creation themes. One prayer is –
Jesus Christ, teach us to empathise with Earth.
Make our spirits sensitive to the cries of creation,
cries for justice from the air, the clouds and the sky,
cries of our fellow creatures deserted and dying.
Jesus Christ, make our faith sensitive to the groans of the Spirit
in creation, groans of longing for a new creation.
Jesus Christ, make our hearts sensitive to the songs of our kin,
songs of celebration echoing around us.
Jesus Christ, teach us to care.
In September, I am trying to increase my personal environmental responsibility by reducing my use of single-use plastics. There are some people who need straws to drink with, but I can go without them. I’m remembering to take bags from home for shopping especially for the vegetables. I’m not going to encourage the use of balloons or plastic glitter in decoration. I’m remembering to use my reusable coffee cup.
This Spring, let’s celebrate and care for creation together!
Grace and peace,