For anyone who even glances at the news these days, it might seem as if the whole world is a disaster movie. Each event seems to lead to another horrific event. The north west coastal forests of North America are aflame. In places as far apart as Nigeria and Bangladesh and Windsor, Ontario, flood waters are creating difficulties and catastrophes. One major Atlantic hurricane follows another. And, an earthquake shakes Mexico. To make matters worse, politicians are brandishing sabres and afflicting whole populations. The world seems to have gone crazy. It is not surprising that people are blaming God.
A person can deny climate change, but it does seem as if the earth is fighting back, fighting for its very life. Perhaps that is even true. Perhaps nature is balancing the harm done along with the anticipated changes in planetary evolution.
So what is a Christian response to all of this. In the story of the flood in Genesis, God assures the survivors that no matter how wicked and violent humanity becomes, the Holy One will never destroy the creation. (Genesis 8:21) However, as in the creation story, God again entrusts the world and all life on it, to humanity’s care and oversight. Clearly, we have been reckless caretakers, striding over the earth without regard for the sacredness of life. Wangari Maathi said, “When you revere, you do not plunder, you protect.” Have we revered God’s handiwork or has it been just another acquisition, just another disposable thing?
I think we can, from our theological history say, God is not destroying anything. What we believe in is Life, at least in principle. So our God cannot be held responsible for this destruction. We are the makers of health and harm, wonder and disdain. Jesus told us that neither religion, nor culture nor kings could save us.
Do we have a message of hope at all? We are the people who climb out of arks, who struggle across distances, albeit grumbling all the way. We are the people who enshrine the concept of protection for the stranger, the vulnerable, the outcast. We are the people who say that death is a passage not a wall. We are the people who understand resurrection, its physicality, its potential to make all thing new. We are the people who know that repentance is an action not a word. We are the people who are empowered by the Spirit to lead others in hope, to bring people together, to heal what has been broken. We have a message of hope, even in the darkest hour and we have a plan. It is Jesus’ intention that we should we should see each other as one family, united in peace, even when we disagree. One family that is unafraid to drink from one cup, share one loaf, which might even feed 5000. We believe in the miracle of becoming aware, becoming generous, loving, empowered. So do not despair at this turning of the world. Pray for our brothers and sisters everywhere. Take their struggles into your hearts. Stand tall, beacons of hope on this darkest night, beacons that offer safety and a resting place for all.