Friday, 24 April 2009

Easter and Sustainability

Firstly, a few random notes:

Easter church sermon notes: Surrounded by love that awakens in the light : man extinguished the light of the world : Man put to death Jesus : Man put to death creation and nature : we killed the light : the Easter love that grows from the earth and becomes a sacrifice for all : what response does this demand form me? : What is the sacrifice?

I am reminded of Satish Kumar's great analogy of the apple tree that provides an abundance of fruit. Many varied organisms will feed upon its apples and there is no discrimination on the part of the tree as to who should eat them. It freely gives to all who are hungry: birds, wasps, humans, fungi, slugs - a huge diversity of life will devour the fruit and release the precious seeds inside.

Sustainability is a word that is used a huge amount these days in many varied contexts. How can we relate to it? How does it tie in with the apple tree, and how can it be linked to the Easter story of love, sacrifice, death, resurrection and new growth? How is God linked to sustainability, the ongoing creation/existence of the earth and His intervention in the process of human evolution?

The culture we live in is geared to the supply of products that meet our wants and needs. We are always wanting more. Perhaps, until recently, there has been no real sense of there ever being a finite supply of food, clothes, entertainment, computer games, holidays and anything we may desire (for the majority of the Western population at least). The recession we are now in is, I hope, awakening many more people to the realities of our lifestyle based around economics of money, meeting needs, resource exploitation and selfishness. Development of a modern society has been based around fulfilling the needs that people have, There is little sense of doing with what we've got.

I wondered, as we are part of the divinely created universe, why God has allowed us to deplete resources and expand beyond our abilities. From my Christian perspective and background, I feel very much as if God has left us to get into the mess we are in. There seems to be something slightly amiss when I think about how God is perceived as a personal saviour and friend at an intimate level and yet globally seems to be absent. God is always in the 'people', rarely in the 'earth'. God is in the micro of our lives, but not in the macro, one could say? A more ecological view of God readdresses the balance. You become aware of just how linked your personal experience of living is connected to the bigger global picture.

Does the future look bleak? To every generation the future may look sacry - it is always a place of change, uncertainty and unknowing. The mechanics of society and culture are deeply engaged in a set process, visionaries seek alternatives to the present way of doing things, but how do you motivate and mobilise change across a country, millions of people and systems that exist.

I am uncertain of my role in all of this. What is my part in being a ecological self seeking to change the world for the better?

Going back to Easter, there may be a sense in which the crucifixion of Jesus represents the crucifixion of our earth. Exploitation and ignorance put to death that which supports, teaches, heals and sustains us. Nature becomes that which must be sacrificed, but it knows that it can never be fully put to death. It will always survive.

And what about the role of, and connections of, humans to Nature? Sometimes it seems as though we have evolved beyond that which the planet was designed for. We no longer seem to be living in harmony with the earth. I wonder if we are really part of it now - have we become like cancer cells that grow and grow and take over the host body? Who knows.

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