As I write this I have just finished the closing worship for a week of OAC, Okanagan Anglican Camp. When the kids were asked to yell out a word of Thanksgiving this morning, many of them said “the smoke’s clearing.” We began the week with so much smoke many active outdoor games had to be curtailed. The Ministry of Health, however, said being on the water was a safe place, with less smoke, so we had lots more swimming and kayaking, which of course the kids loved too. But the smoke caused a sense of unease.
It was good to see blue sky of course, but the ambiguity of this crisis time is that we know that the strong wind that cleared the smoke for us was at the same time pushing fires into other communities. It has been an anxious summer: heat waves that were life-threatening especially for those living without air-conditioning, smoke that wreaked havoc for those with respiratory illness, evacuation orders and alerts, drought ruined crops while there are floods around the globe, the re-traumatizing of the intergenerational survivors in the Indigenous community as unmarked graves were discovered at Residential school grounds, climate disasters happening around the globe, and the unpredictability of the pandemic. Even as we joyously began to celebrate Eucharist together, we know our sense of community has changed. The first time I got to sing again surrounded by other voices in praise, I was so moved to tears; it was worth the cost of having to wear a mask…
Anxiety on a massive scale: How, in the midst of this, do we encounter the voice of God? How do we hear the One who says: “Fear not”?
We know we must hear the strong warning that we need massive changes to address the climate crisis. The prophetic voice of the Earth on fire stands in judgment that our greedy over-consuming is killing our planet and endangering all creatures. How does the church find its mission in this time?
We have much to offer the world:
- We have loving and accepting communities to encourage each other in the changes we need to make. To encourage means literally “to give heart to.” Prayer, pastoral care, listening to each other, lovingly challenging each other in our care for the earth.
- We have a relationship with Creator and thus with Creation.
- We entrust the future into the hands of God, which frees and energizes us to work in the present.
- We have a long historical perspective.
- We know God is with us in suffering. Trusting in God’s loving presence frees us from despair, numbness and immobilization.
- We have prayer, singing, worship, meditation practices to ease our anxiety and open us to be aware of Grace.
- Our call to love neighbour frees us from self-preoccupation and individualism.
- We live in Awe and Gratitude for life; this strengthens us.
I recommend that all communities in the Diocese immerse themselves in the resource for the Season of Creation for September and October, to find practical ways in community to fearlessly engage practical issues of Creation Care.
I also commend to you in your church community to engage the Primate’s invitation for conversations: “Surprised by the Spirit.” More about this in this issue: I think participating in this will strengthen our response to the future.
“Be strong and of good courage. The Lord your God goes with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)