Solving the Problems of the World!

Posted on: October 2, 2020, by :

[An edited transcript of the reflection from HeartWell Online, 27th September 2020]

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight
Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.

Do you recall that old adage?  I remember hearing it and repeating as a young boy.  But I had no idea just how old the saying was, and I certainly had no idea that Jesus knew about that saying over 2000 years ago!  Yet there it is, recorded in Matthew’s gospel (Matt 16:2).  The Pharisees and Sadducees come to Jesus and ask him for a sign from heaven.  Jesus’ responds: “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Prophetic words from Jesus!  The signs are all around us, the ‘groaning of creation’ (as the Apostle Paul puts it) is unmistakable – bushfire infernos, cyclones and hurricanes, droughts and flooding rains, the extinction of entire species, and perhaps even COVID19 as a sign of the dysfunction and disharmony of our times – creation is groaning but we fail to read, or at least to heed, the signs.

The signs of our times are clear, and they are not all that promising.

But all is not lost!  There are other signs too!  Signs that the groaning of creation is being heard, signs that there are those who not only hear but heed the signs and are courageous enough to do something about it.  Signs like the School Strike 4 Climate (held just last Friday), Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Common Grace Climate Network, Lighter Footprints, etc, etc..  Signs of changing attitudes, signs of emerging awareness and positive action.

So while some of the signs might be threatening and disquieting, they are balanced by signs of reassurance and hope.  Again and again in the course of human history it has proven true that as long as there is even a handful of people of goodwill – courageous, principled people – there is still hope!

Merryl Blair’s teaching from the Psalms in yesterday’s online gathering is instructive: what is required is the willingness to admit that we’ve stuffed up, take responsibility for the mess we’ve created, and get to work addressing it together, knowing that the Creator, and Creation itself, will generously forgive our ‘transgressions’ and welcome us as partners in the restoration and renewal of Creation.  We know that the Spirit is essentially creative, regenerative, and that if the human species is prepared to cooperate with the Spirit of Creation, then regeneration and restoration will quite naturally take its course.

I do recognise the reluctance of some people, many in positions of power and influence, to accept responsibility, seeking to shift the blame away from themselves, to divert accountability.  This is a flaw of the human condition: the need to blame someone else for what is essentially a shared community problem. Let’s get past the blame game! The situation is too serious, too urgent to waste time on recriminations!  Rather, let’s acknowledge that we all share some responsibility for this mess and that a successful outcome will be dependent upon all of us pulling together.  We’ve actually modelled the ability to pull together in the COVID challenge; can we not do similarly for the sake of the environment, for Earth.

Here’s what I would like you to take away from this reflection: don’t be daunted by the enormity of the problem – just do what you can, little by little.  Plant one tree, then maybe another; recycle one plastic bottle, then maybe another; wear an extra sweater and turn the heating down one notch; take just one minute off your daily shower time; walk or cycle to the shop whenever possible rather than drive … …  So many little things that we can do, and before we know it all those little things add up to one big difference.

As Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, is known to have said: If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t been in bed with a mosquito!

May the Creator Spirit grant us wisdom, strength and courage as partners in the restoration and renewal of Creation.

David Brooker

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