As we celebrate the 50th Earth Day, we are reminded of the Biblical conception of the Jubilee Year. “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you” (Leviticus 25:10). This Jubilee is marred by a modern day plague known as Covid-19.
The church should be concerned about Covid-19, but we should also be concerned about the far greater threat posed by environmental degradation and climate change. What we do to our planet we are doing to God’s creation, to ourselves and to each other.
Like climate change, this plague impacts the most vulnerable. This invites us to reevaluate our commitment to social justice and alter our perilous trajectory. If we are serious about our desire to preserve creation, we must acknowledge that we cannot return to business as usual. Our unbridled fixation on economic growth has led us to venerate industry and commerce over the gospel. Each year we take from the earth more than it can provide. Each year we pollute our air, soil and water. and each year we draw one step closer to a climate disaster.
It is time to repent for our errant ways and commit to making different choices. Lent is a time of reflection and at Easter we celebrate the resurrection. This is a time of opportunity, a time to move away from the old ways that augur death and consider a new path that embraces life. Let us take this opportunity to renew our relationship to creation as Christians who proclaim the gospel.
We are called to act by what the Bishop of Salisbury described as the prophetic voice of young people. The realities we face demand change and our failure to act makes us complicit. The church is at a crossroads. As we ponder a new vision in 2020 we need to decide whether we are here to promote our economic survival, or live out the gospel? It may be that by doing the later, we may increase the likelihood of achieving the former. At the very least in a world rife with divisions caring for creation can be a focus that brings us together.
Leviticus Chapter 26:1-13 describes how people will be blessed if they follow Gods command. However, failure to live in accordance with God is also described in graphic detail: “I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain” (Leviticus 26:16). Will we heed God’s command or be like Pharaoh and invite more deadly