A heart for creation, or just for ourselves?

Today is Creation Sunday.  I’m not going to tell you how wonderful it is to be outdoors or tell you how much the psalmists sing the praises of the created and creator.  But I want to ask a simple question.   Do we have a heart for creation or do we only have a heart for ourselves?   Often ‘environmental or ecological’ issues come to the fore when something controversial is suggested like wind-turbines or road-building.  Most often the responses  are from a human perspective.  We might not like the look of something, or we might think that something is being lost by this development.  These are natural responses in being human, however in making such judgements and decisions, instead of thinking personally, we need to begin to think globally or even biblically.  And in my mind this simple question is the same as the question What are we doing here?  Not here now in this building as one would hope that should be obvious – well it should, but perhaps it is not, but that is for another sermon…  The ‘what’s the point of it all?’ question, the one to which Douglas Adams gave us the answer 42.  Yes, That Question – the unknown question.  The one which Giles Fraser reminded R4 listeners this past week that Donald Rumsfeld asked to much derision.  There are things we know we don’t know, like when is the weather going to warm up?  And there are things that we don’t know we don’t know.  These are the questions that we can’t articulate because we don’t know how to speak of them at all.  Like the question to which the answer is apparently ‘42’.  Much like the first verse of the hymn “Immortal invisible God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes.” perhaps an alternative ending to that verse should be (with sincere apologies to Walter Chalmers Smith 1824-1908):  “We struggle and worry ‘bout things we can’t see, So give our attention to comforting me.”  The traditional Wittgenstein approach should perhaps be taken in all such cases, “On matters where one cannot speak, one must be silent”.  All well and good, however, that doesn’t allow us the common religious response in such cases as humility in the face of the unfathomable which can often direct us away from the object of my awful parody of the great hymn – our own comfort.  So I ask “What are we doing here on Creation Sunday?”  “What is the point to life?”  It is the sort of question that many religious groups would claim to have an answer for and i’m sure that for the most part in their specific cultural context there would be truths to be found in each of them.  So what of the teachings of the bible?  On this subject I feel the pages have been shouting at us through the centuries, but we have become blinded by the idea of some supposed utopia beyond our seeing, and how we might obtain something unknown of which we cannot speak with strange words and promises.  And yet the biblical narrative is so clearly focusing our attention upon the here and now.  Why is it we seem to find it important to look beyond for some hidden meaning, some other truth that is not spoken of.  Paul’s letter in Colossians setting out his understanding of the Christ, of whom Jesus was the human manifestation, but of the Christ the first born of God.  And with wisdom, the voice of the proverbs, the spirit that brooded over the waters of creation before the universe had any form.  This is how to speak of the unknown, in awe and wonder as these verses do.  And the psalms speak of the praise and worship of God continually at work, not far off and distant, but present here and now among us and before us in all of creation.  John’s Gospel, the strangest of creation narratives explains without really saying very much how the Christ came to be among us in Jesus.  All these focus our minds outside of our own self to the life of Jesus in whom we see the eternal Christ – essentially within all that is around us.  Returning to the question at the beginning do we have a heart for this or for ourselves?  When questions are raised on environmental issues, it is important to push ourselves to the back and return to these passages and the many that abound amongst them for they will take us beyond our own understanding, beyond the human dimension into the world of the eternal christ.  For we do not know what we are doing or not doing to this earth, and it is the only one we have. Christians have the greatest mandate for caring for the creation and it is both here in the book, and out there to be read in the world.  That is the eternal christ, the first born of all creation, the beginning and the end.

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