A New Clarion Call
By Andrew Clarke, CMD Lead
All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small.
Deeply rooted in our theology is the conviction of a Creator, who saw everything he had made, and pronounced it – even defined it – ‘Very good’. Welcome reminders of this reality are seen in ‘wild’-seeded meadows, dark forests, clear waters and polychromatic sunsets.
Less frequently, our ‘theology of creation’ articulates the painful reality of living in a period in which creation is now groaning, struggling to express its yearning to embrace true freedom (Romans 8:19-22). We have known this existence all our lives, a reality to which our parents introduced us, as their parents had done a generation earlier. It seems inescapable – one of those inevitabilities of life, which will forever characterise our present existence. Recognising and briefly holding those fleeting moments of creative beauty is a welcome balm for our terminal illness, a mutual reminder that our flawed present will one day give way to an abidingly glorious future.
However, perhaps like me, you are now more frequently hearing a new clarion call. This sounds less like a voice of resigned helplessness, committed to seeing this world out, until a better one supplants it. Rather, these youthful tones are picking up on often silenced voices within Scripture. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, again and again there is graphic imagery that threatens an awful regression to formless and void chaos – a reversing of all that was ‘very good’.
This language does not convey inevitability, but judgment, and therefore an implicit challenge. It is a prophetic mechanism to remind us of our present responsibility. What obligations do we now carry for the quality of life that others, now and in the future, are able to experience? More starkly still, even if our present this-worldly challenges are temporary, will we nonetheless forever be held accountable for ignoring those obligations?
Is the wasting of our lands, seas and skies inexorable, or is it reversible evidence that we have yet to embrace our now urgent charge? Are we to continue waiting passively for our adoption, reminding each other of a once all-beautiful creation, and together embracing our shared one-time hope? Or, is our Creator God even now looking for those who recognise his vision and appreciation for all things ‘very good’, and are working energetically with him towards the restoration of all things?
With COP26 being held in Glasgow in November this year, this is a very timely topic and one which we need to think more deeply about. We shall be exploring the issue of creation care and climate change at Canopy this year, where we will hear from Dr Ruth Valerio as she speaks to us about this important topic and how we as churches and individuals can make our response to this new clarion call.