We have entered the Season of Creation. Each year from 1 September to 4 October (the Feast of St Francis of Assisi) the Christian family unites for a worldwide celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. This year’s theme is ‘Listen to the Voice of Creation.’
Some months ago, at a Heads of Churches meeting, we reflected on the fact that historically the church has not been good at listening. We’ve been good at talking, voicing our opinion, and even demanding attention. And now that society is listening less to the voice of the church, it gives us an opportunity to experience in small measure what it might mean to be voiceless.
Rev Dr Chad Rimmer from the Lutheran World Federation and chair of the Season of Creation steering committee visited Australia recently as a keynote speaker at our Australian Conference on Lutheran Education in Melbourne. Dr Rimmer has said, ‘The theological tradition of the book of creation, runs like a golden thread through the psalms and the writings of the early church fathers, to Martin Luther who said “God has written [the gospel] not only in books, but also in trees and other creatures.’”
Recently my wife and I returned from celebrating our son’s wedding in the United States. While there, we took the opportunity to travel to several national parks, including Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado. During this trip, we hiked a lot and day after day we spent time reading God’s book of creation, side-by-side with the book of Scripture.
Dr Rimmer reminds us that the ‘book of creation and the book of scripture are meant to be “read” side by side, not blurring the lines between reason and revelation, but realising that creation was the first stage of God’s revelation, which culminated in Christ’s coming into the world. Contemplating these two books together, helps us understand who we are, where we are and how we are called to live in right relationships with God and our co-creatures.’
Martin Luther reminded us that ‘God is substantially present everywhere, in and through all creatures, in all their parts and places, so that the world is full of God and he fills all…[and is] substantially present in a grain [of wheat], on a grain, over a grain, through a grain, within and without, and that, although it is a single Majesty, it nevertheless is entirely in each grain separately, no matter how immeasurably numerous these grains may be’ (LW 37).
As Dr Norm Habel says the Christ we confess is not distant and unfeeling, but here with us, suffering with us and for us. We know that the Christ who suffers with us through our pain will bring us new life and hope. For Christ is the water of life, not only for our spirit but also for this earth that God has chosen as our home.
Hence, at the beginning of this Season of Creation, may our prayer be that God may once again, one day, look upon his creation and say, ‘It is very good.’ May our prayer be that we will live faithfully and prayerfully, realising that in all our relationships, we are but caretakers and stewards of God’s gifts to us.
Faithfully and prayerfully,