Devotions for Sunday 13th September
Welcome to the Devotions sheet for this Sunday. Please take your time to read, pray and imagine your way through what’s here. May you find grace and strength and connection with God from your time reading and reflecting.
Dear God, as I settle in to read these devotions, I pause for a moment to reflect on my anticipation- what do I expect? . . . . What am I hoping for in this time? . . . . God, I offer you my best intentions, and open myself for you to speak to me through my reflection on what’s written. And if it disturbs me, help me stick with it to hear if you do have a challenge for me. And in my already-troubled state- still comfort and reassure me with your loving Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of our land, and pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging. We honour their care of the land and acknowledge that as Second Peoples, we have benefitted from their dispossession. So, we commit ourselves to reconciliation and justice as First and Second Peoples together, and to learn from them to care for each other and the land.
Ask yourself these questions
How am I feeling with the Covid 19 restrictions? What has helped me through this so far?
What difference have the sunny days made?
Where have I seen natural beauty this week?
What love have I experienced this week?
What have I read, or listened to that lifted me?
What kindness have I received; and what kindness have I given?
What things have I enjoyed that have met my physical needs?
What has nourished me spiritually?
Where have you been in my week, God? Where you showed up, and where you came disguised?
Say or even just feel a prayer of gratitude to God.
We’re half-way through a series looking at some implications of the gospel in and towards some contemporary and perhaps controversial movements in our world, that all flow from our affirmation that ‘God is Good’. This was inspired by the banner we plan to get made and mount on the Warrnambool Church as a statement of who we are and what we stand for. Last week looked at ‘No Human is Illegal’- a loaded statement about refugees. Today it’s ‘Science is Real’.
Science is Real
This is a response to Climate Change Deniers- those who reject the findings of over 97% of scientists studying and reporting on the climate of our world. The scientific consensus is 1 The climate is warming. 2 it’s caused by humans burning fossil fuels. 3 It’s already causing trouble with record temperatures, bushfires and extreme weather events, and unless we can limit the global average increase to 1.50C there will be a lot more trouble, but 4 we can stop it by changing to renewable energy sources and other changes to our lifestyles and practices.
Science and Religion
Both are real. There really need not be a conflict between science and religion, when the questions each seeks to answer are respected. Science investigates ‘How’. Religion provides answers to ‘Why’ and ‘How should we live.’ Albert Einstein is quoted as saying ‘Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.’ For a Christian, once you bust open the literalness of Genesis’ 6 days of creation, any need for conflict with science evaporates, but faith doesn’t. “God did not create the world once upon a time as the sole cause of a predetermined universe but creates the world over a long span of time through the processes of change and development. As the loving and (self)limited source of a world of becoming with freedom and novelty, God works in cooperation with the creatures, laws, and randomness of nature to create a purposeful world. Instead of thinking of the creator as the ultimate reality from the past or the ultimate reality in a timeless eternity, God can be thought of from the future, the God of lure and promise. When this shift is made, a determined cosmos or a timeless eternity gives way to creation from the future in which God works through the processes of evolution to create, redeem, and fulfill the world. God creates in cooperation with the creatures through the freedom, randomness, and laws of the natural world.” Ian Barbour: When Science Meets Religion
The problem is that, despite the clear science, and the possibility of solutions, vested interests are holding up the changes we need to make, and day by day the difficulty of solving the problem of climate change increases, and the likelihood of world catastrophe grows.
Given the science of climate change, the whole biblical story comes into it- from the declaration of God that the creation is very good in Genesis 1, to a better understanding of what ‘dominion’ means in the power given to human beings who are made in the image of God- to be creative and stewards of the earth; to humanity’s awareness of good and evil in Genesis 2, to the Psalms that rejoice in the creation, to Jesus’ ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’, his special place for the needs of children, his challenging the ruling powers of his day provocatively but non-violently (though violence was done to him), to Paul’s reference to the whole creation groaning for redemption in Romans 8, to the vision of the earth as a flourishing garden city at the end of Revelation. As Christians there can be no doubt we are called to care for the earth and the future generations.
Reading: Psalm 75 is a Psalm that doesn’t get a go in our lectionary over the three-year cycle. Read this with climate change in mind.
We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks to you!
We proclaim how great you are and tell of the wonderful things you have done.
2 “I have set a time for judgment,” says God, “and I will judge with fairness.
3 Though every living creature tremble and the earth itself be shaken, I will keep its foundations firm.
4 I tell the wicked not to be arrogant; 5 I tell them to stop their boasting.”
6 Judgment does not come from the east or from the west, from the north or from the south;
7 it is God who is the judge, condemning some and acquitting others.
8 The Lord holds a cup in his hand, filled with the strong wine of his anger.
He pours it out, and all the wicked drink it; they drink it down to the last drop.
9 But I will never stop speaking of the God of Jacob or singing praises to him.
10 He will break the power of the wicked, but the power of the righteous will be increased.
We need to act decisively and quickly to mitigate the worst effects of Climate Change. There isn’t one ‘silver bullet’ solution, but many contributing changes to our power generation and use of technology, land-use practices, transport, and lifestyles. But the major one is a change from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. This change is happening but is held up by the political power of the fossil fuels industry.
Acting to minimise Climate Change is not a science issue, it’s a spiritual issue. It’s an issue of the human heart. We can’t just blame the government. It would act more quickly if the people demanded it.
It’s not just the Corporate Heads of the Fossil Fuel industries- it’s the shareholders- and we’re all more or less involved through our Superannuation. It’s also the workers in the fossil fuel industries and their communities- as the last Federal Election – especially in Queensland- showed.
Studies of people who have changed their mind about Climate Change over recent years showed these causes for change:
The studies showed people wanted to know more but were not motivated enough to take the time and effort to find out.
Other resistance factors were:
In our community there is a spectrum:
Activists <–> Convinced <–> Concerned <–> Cautious <–> Disengaged <–> Doubtful <–> Dismissive
What can move people to be more engaged?
I got this far in preparing these devotions and looked over what I’d written and was reminded of how self-righteous it sounds. I was reminded by a devotion by Philip Yancey: “Jesus’ message of the Kingdom had little in common with the politics of polarization”. While he was on the side of the poor and oppressed, “he became known as a friend of tax-collectors, a group clearly identified with the foreign exploiters. Though he spoke of the dangers of money he showed love and compassion toward a rich young ruler. In short, Jesus honoured the dignity of people, whether he agreed with them or not. I feel convicted by this quality of Jesus every time I get involved in a cause I strongly believe in. How easy it is to join the politics of polarization, to find myself shouting across the picket lines at the ‘enemy’ on the other side. From Jesus I learn that whatever activism I get involved in, it must not drive out love and humility, or otherwise I betray the Kingdom of heaven.”
That doesn’t mean we don’t get involved, but we’re called to bring that humility, respect and even love for all people into our activism, our conversations, our lobbying. Which has more show of succeeding that finger-wagging and shouting. I remember Gill Davey saying, ‘When you point the finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you.’
Prayer (from UnitingJustice)
Creator God, breath and source of life, in love you called the world into being
and in grace you made us and call us your children.
We stand in awe of the wonder of your creation: its beauty and wildness; complexity and power;
resilience and fragility.
God of life, you call us to be participants in the web and wellspring of life:
to be nurtured by the planet; to be nurturing of the planet; to cherish the world and all that lives.
But we have failed and creation groans under our weight.
God of grace, forgive us in our brokenness:
when we have taken too much from the earth; when we have not spoken out against greed and destruction;
when we have allowed our most vulnerable neighbours to be harmed.
We seek courage and forgiveness to be made whole.
God of love, we pray for those people, communities and nations already suffering the devastating effects of climate change; and we pray for the diversity of life on earth, so much of it already threatened by our actions.
God of hope, we pray for the members of parliament who make laws and policies.
Bless them with wisdom and creativity, and a shared vision of hope for all creation.
May they find the determination to take strong action to halt the destructive effects of climate change,
and the political will to act together for the common good
Creator God, we pray for us all,
that we might restore our relationships with each other and work together to heal the earth.
Renew us in your grace for the sake of your creation. Amen.
And God, we pray for all of us together in this Covid19 situation as well- all of us throughout the world. Bring us together as one humanity in love and care.
We pray for our loved ones and ourselves with our needs . . .
And we offer prayer for all those opposed to our concerns . . . in the wonder of Jesus. Amen
May God bless you with the Divine Love, that is gentle and passionate; so you flourish even in difficulty, so that making changes for good in your own life is a joy, so you stir up the world with a vision of human unity, peace and sustainability with such hope and respect that you are irresistibly persuasive. And may the future generations praise and thank you for what you did for the world in 2020. In the name of Christ.