6th May 2923 Hope for a world where the planet is renewed (part 2)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In 2021, after two years of preparation, I went to Glasgow for COP26. Thousands of us stood in the rain in Kelvingrove Park to march for climate justice. By the end of the conference, we were left disappointed by the lack of commitment by world leaders to reduce emissions. The following week, I began afresh, looking at further ways we could campaign for climate justice.
In the midst of what feels like an endless cycle of conferences and campaigning, it’s easy to lose confidence in the belief that things really can change. In today’s passage, Paul speaks about ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’. We are reminded that, in the midst of the challenges we face, we can catch glimpses of God breaking in. Often, the gains feel more like the still, small voice Elijah hears than the mighty wind and fire of the Spirit coming at Pentecost. They might not be the big commitments to stop carbon emissions made at international conferences, but more like the defiant green shoot bursting through broken concrete.
Each of these glimpses of transformation, the firstfruits of the Spirit, show us that God is already at work among us. They offer an invitation to find in them the hope in which we were saved and for which we have been saved. They are the start of a promise of bigger change to come.
Paul makes no promise that this is an easy calling. Often we will find ourselves pursuing a hope that seems unreachable. But ‘who hopes for what they already have?’. We are reminded that God has already set within each of us the potential for transformation, just waiting to be revealed. It is the revealing of this hope which we wait for, however patiently, as we catch glimpses of God’s kingdom springing forth with new life.
God, You reveal your love for us in the big and the small things of life. In your power, you created the whole universe, and still you bring even the small shoots of new life to birth.
Open our eyes to glimpse your life revealed in the world around us today, that we might hold the firstfruits of your kingdom in our hearts as we journey towards change. Amen.
Hannah Fremont-Brown is Campaigns and Church Engagement Officer for the Joint Public Issues Team