Always seeking to reduce the environmental impact of what we do and raising
awareness of the environment.

Where a journey takes you and how it progresses is often determined by where you start from.

There is an old Irish tale of a tourist who is lost, surrounded by beautiful green fields but no sense of direction and no road signs. Coming across a local, the tourist asks for directions. Thoughtfully the local ponders the question and answers helpfully “I wouldn’t start from here!”

Where is your start point regarding the environment and eco-Church and ecological impact generally?

For many the narrative is this:

We have ruined the planet and so we need to fix it.

That raises a couple of question though.

Are we so powerful as to destroy all that God has made? Do we have the power to repair the damage we have already done?

If the answer to either of those questions is no then that can lead us into two opposing and unhelpful positions.

Firstly, denial that there is a problem or that anything of man’s invention or behaviour has had detrimental consequences.

Secondly, fear. Utter terror that this life will be snuffed out and there is nothing we can do about it.

I would like to explore these two within the context of the Easter story from Matthew 28:1-18. Not the bit you are most familiar with perhaps, the Great Commission about making disciples. That comes next week.

No, the bit before, from the resurrection to that mountainside commission…..

Two Mary’s went to the tomb. Jesus lies, as far as they are aware, dead for three days. An earthquake. An angel. The stone rolls away. The angel sat on top, with a sense of victory. He looks like lightening, snow white and the guards, Romans, shook with fear. Literally petrified.

“Do not be afraid..”  Said the angel. The proceeded to explain Jesus’ absence and gave instructions as to what to do next. They go, “afraid yet filled with joy”. On the way to telling the disciples as instructed they meet Jesus. They stop in their tracks and he offered “Greetings,”

The two women, afraid but joyful, fell at his feet to worship him. Jesus echoed the angels words….

“Do not be afraid”.

And he instructed them to go on their way to see the brothers.

Meanwhile the petrified guards go to the city, tell anyone who would listen and meet the chief priestsThey bribe them with a much cash to spread a lie. They are afraid that the truth about the power that allowed Jesus to escape will cause trouble all the way to the top. The guards agree and their lies continued to spread.

Meanwhile, listening to the women, the disciples go to a mountain in Galilee to meet Jesus. They believe the stories of power and resurrection, mostly. When they saw Jesus they worshipped him, but some remained unsure. Jesus set out to calm their doubts by being clear…

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

And that is the crux of this narrative.

Jesus says two things – “Do not be afraid” and “ALL authority in heaven and on earth is mine”

To deny that there is an ecological problem and that anything we witness has nothing to do with us is complacency and arrogance.

To fear that all will be destroyed and that we are doomed without our corrective action is also arrogant, but borne of desperation. It lays too much stall by ourselves.

The reality is that Jesus has been given authority over ALL things.

All the stars in the sky will be dissolved
    and the heavens rolled up like a scroll;
all the starry host will fall
    like withered leaves from the vine,
    like shrivelled figs from the fig tree. (Isaiah 34:4)

We see a similar image in Revelation 6 and of course that letter ends with a totally new creation – heaven and earth. How can that be unless the Lord and saviour has ALL authority over ALL things?

So where do we fit in?

Both the angel who rolled the stone and the resurrected Jesus said the same thing:

Do not be afraid.

Our value, to constantly improve our environmental impact, is not born of fear but of respect.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”……..31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. 2 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. (Genesis 1:28-2:1 extract)

We are made as stewards of the creation. We cannot defeat the creator. But we can bend and buckle his creation. We are called to hand it back in good order. But we do not have ALL authority, either to destroy to nor repair it.

God knows we are not that powerful. But HE is.

Our most recent addition to our values was included in January 2020. It highlights a commitment to the fifth mark of mission “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. Our commitment towards this aim, as marked recently by achieving a Bronze Eco-Church award, and our continuing progress towards a Silver Award, is contained within our sixth value:

Always seeking to reduce the environmental impact of what we do and raising
 of the environment.

This has three key elements:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Reduction not eradication
  • Campaigning as well as doing

And this is most effective when it is all of us (as with all the other values!) Whether it is coffee cups, switching off lights and heating, recycling, single use items, plastics and other non-compostable materials or campaigning for schemes and programmes that help us and people all around the world, especially the poorest – they all count towards this constant reduction and awareness raising.

These small things contribute towards our environmental mission alongside the others, such as evangelism and social action, not instead of them. Everything has an environmental cost and so we must aim to reduce the overall effect of what we do while meeting our other key objectives.

Is this your value?

If so, and you have any ideas about how we could continuously reduce our impact, let me know.