Tuesday, 3 October 2023 Foolishness: God doesn’t protect you
How long will the land mourn, and the grass of every field wither? For the wickedness of those who live in it the animals and the birds are swept away, and because people said, ‘[God] is blind to our ways.’
1 John 4:20
Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.
Galatians 3: 28
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Some time ago the URC decided that no one should be trained for ministry who is unable to accept the ordination of both men and women to all the offices of the Church. This means that whilst an opinion may freely be held, the discipline of the Church prevents the considerable harm that can be done to faith and health when such discrimination is propagated.
Of course, someone holding clearly racist or homophobic views would – and should – also be vetted out – depriving them of the opportunity to harm others. There is no right to ordination. So it is too with climate denial. Now it is truly beyond reasonable doubt that the injustice perpetrated by humanity has damaged the balance of the Earth, to the extent that 80% or more of the human population have experienced unprecedented extremes of one sort or another. The toll of wildlife on whom we’re only just beginning to understand how much we depend, has been far higher.
photo credit David Coleman
I’m proud to be part of a church which has so formally recognised both the profound truth of diversity as a blessing rather than difference as a curse as expressed in today’s readings. We need a more wholesome and inclusive appreciation of the family of Creation leading on from 1 John. This family, sharing so much down to a cellular level, whom we certainly “do see”, and who likewise enjoys the God-given habitat which churches have called our “Common Home.”
Whatever we do to the Earth, we do to Christ who is incarnate therein. Is it mere foolishness, or is it even a religious offence to deceive yourself, a church, or a nation, that ‘God looks away’ when actions are wantonly promoted or passed without hesitation, which are known to harm neighbours human and non-human alike?
These things are not ‘opinion’. What to do about them is opinion. “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” [Philip K Dick]
Holy Wisdom, speak once more in ways which penetrate our blinkers, goggles, armour.
Break down those prison walls that claim protection in the privilege of race and species.
Let the last – despised, evicted, be the first to speak the truth we need.
Humble that ‘wisdom of the world’ which for profit violates and trashes the home God gives as much to fellow creatures as to us. Amen
The Rev’d David Coleman is a URC Minister and Chaplain to EcoCongregation Scotland.