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Posts Tagged ‘service’

It is hard to not be effected by what has been happening in Japan over these last several days. Coupled with other recent events such as the cyclone and subsequent flooding in Queensland, Australia, and the ongoing political tension in Libya and the Middle East, it brings me down to earth about the hard reality of this world. In particular it makes me wonder about the future, the Kingdom of God, and what God has planned for the earth.

Searching for ideas about what to make of all this, I stumbled across a blog post by Daniel James Levy on the American Evangelical Environmental Network website.

Growing up he had a “view of the world which in turn will one day end in some kind of cataclysmic explosion, which of course included some kind of nuclear missiles, huge machine guns, and the death of trillions of people and animals. After this, God will one day blow up the entire cosmos, just as He spoke it into existence.”

Yet as a youth Levy explains that struggled to reconcile this picture of the future with the call for Christians to spread the Good News and make the world a better place.

Levy writes,

“I remember vividly leaving my youth group one Wednesday night when I was 15 years old, the youth pastor talked about trying to lead people to Christ, to make the world a better place, and so on, but it never made sense in my head. “Why if this world is getting dramatically worst day by day (as his theology taught) would I labor to bring a difference here and now, if it will ultimately do nothing”, I said to myself. So when Jesus said He feeds the birds of the air, I could never make sense to why He does. The only reason it could be, was of course, for me.”

Levy explains the journey he has been on to reconcile this tension.

Drawing on what Stassen and Gunshee in Kingdom Ethics call a covenantal perspective – where covenants such as God’s covenant with creation after the Flood, and the laws of the Israelites which included duties involving non-human creation – Levy explains that we are invited to participate with God in the care of creation.

He writes, we “…are supposed to be a reflection of His nature in the world, which includes His care for the creation.”

While I was hoping that Levy would fill out more what this means and involves (I suppose we have to read Kingdom Ethics for more) he finishes with a beautiful illustration from New Testament scholar N.T. Wright.

Wright describes that for a person moving into a foreign land it is best that they know the language of the locals before they arrive, rather than learning when they get there. That way, when they arrive, they feel at home and a sense of place. He then compares this to us in the here and now and the future Kingdom of God in its fullness.

I don’t know exactly what this means for Queensland and Japan, but it does give me a sense of purpose, something to set my mind to, in an orientation of hope and expectation. In the face of floods and cyclones, I can still all be learning a language of love.

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Yancey talks about the importance of living out faith in the real world in this interview with Roxanne Wieman from Relevant Magazine. The context is Yancey’s new book “What Good is God: In Search of a Faith that Matters.”

Yancey speaks on a personal level, saying that he came back to his faith because he saw people serving others humbly and sacrificially in the example of Jesus.

…the biggest encouragement to my faith is seeing it lived out in real life.”

While the article sheds light on what motivated and inspired Yancey in writing this new book, giving us a glimpse of the wisdom in the pages, I was drawn to the last of Wieman’s questions:

“In the book you say that the story of Christianity is Creation. Fall. Redemption. In light of the tragedies everyone faces – the fallen, broken parts of this world – it begs the question: If the fall is inevitable, what’s the point of Creation at all?”

What’s the point of Creation at all?”

I wonder whether the answer to this question is a central issue that can make the difference between Christians caring for creation or alternatively being apathetic or uncaring (and everything in between and around these two extremes)?

While Wieman’s question seemed to be broader than creation care, I wonder whether it includes it nevertheless.

Yancey’s response is one filled with hope and trust – in God – and in people. He explains:”…God judged all of history, including the tragedies, including the rebellions, including the crucifixion of His own son, and judged it as worth it.”

Sounds pretty inspiring to me. In fact, how do we get our heads around that idea? God really reckons that it’s worth it?

And where do we humans come in? Yancey reckons:

…God seems to take pleasure not in doing it Himself, but in turning it over to the rest of us to see what we can do.”

Wow. That’s pretty big stuff. Who would have thought that God would have so much faith in us? While at the same time that God know’s we’re going to make mistakes and contribute to the wretched brokenness of the world,  God also invites us to participate in His grand plan of redemption.

Yancey explains that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can choose to “..take the results of fallenness – the brokenness, the poverty, the pain [and I’d add: environmental degradation] – and demonstrate what God plans to do about those on a cosmic scale someday.”

Can we believe this is true? Can we transform our belief into action? And if so – what does or could that look like? How can we live out such hope in the face of the overwhelming or daunting science of climate change?

Source: Roxanne Wieman, “Philip Yancey Talks Doubt” Relevant Magazine, 11 October 2010.

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In some Christian calendars, today, 26th August is marked as the day to remember Fiacre (died 670).

“A patron of gardeners, and always depicted with a spade, Fiacre was an Irish travelling hermit who settled at Meaux, in Brittany. There he is said to have built the first hostel for Irish pilgrims on the continent and maintained a large vegetable garden to feed his guests. The place where he lived and died is now called Saint-Fiacre.

“This day is also an alternative day for the remembrance of Ninian, who also developed a large garden to feed the many pilgrims who visited Whithorn.”

Prayer:

“Earth Maker,

by whose life we are born and sustained,

as we thank you for the careful tending of Fiacre,

help us to tend this planet, your garden,

to the best of our ability.”

From:

Ray Simpson, The Celtic Prayer Book, volume 2: Saints of the Isles, 2003, Kevin Mayhew, Suffolk.

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