The weekend before lockdown, getting in just under the wire, the Bath-wide organisation Christian Action for the Environment (CafeBANES) held a day-long conference called ‘Hope for Creation’. The words of one of the inspiring speakers have stayed with me:
‘I have lots of hope actually. A green planet, working together, it’s a daring dream … ‘
The words ‘lots of hope’ put me to shame at the time, when I was surveying the landscape of the imminent impact of Covid-19 and also hearing more bad news stories than good about the health of the planet. How do we find hope for creation? And, more to the point, hold on to it? Live in the light of it? Witness to our great Creator God through it?
There is no one answer to such questions but I found some clues in Simon Gillebaud’s sermon last Sunday about faith and works belonging together.
Faith, of course, is the foundation of everything we are as Christians. It is God’s gift to us (Ephesians 2:8) and Christ in us is the ‘hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27). Without faith, we would have no hope, and none for the planet either in the face of the science. But our faith is in the Lord of the universe, who loves the earth he created and is invested in its present and its future.
And if faith without action is dead, as Simon reminded us (James 2:17), what might our hope for creation lead us to do? We might be inspired by the prophet Jeremiah, who went out and bought a field in the most inauspicious of circumstances (Jeremiah 32) - our equivalent might be to invest in some seeds. Seeds of hope. They could be ideas, prayers, plans, or anything concrete. They will be our practical response to the crisis around us, whether the crisis of the planet or that of the virus. They are our hope expressed tangibly in our work. And in doing something practical, however small, we find our hope renewed.
To quote a secular journalist writing last week: ‘Life as we used to know it will not return for everyone. But we have time to plant something green and new in its place.’
The saying ‘charity begins at home’ is well-known. I think hope begins at home too. What, from our own kitchens, offices, windowsills or gardens, will we plant, and so demonstrate our living faith?
May 14th 2020