Follow Jessica on Twitter @CrossAndLeaves or follow the Five Leaf Eco-Awards @fiveleafeco

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Speech from Canberra City Uniting Church Five Leaf Eco-Awards Eco-Worship Award Presentation

Imagine a world where the church has become the leader of society that everyone looks to in order to find greener and more ethical ways of living. Imagine a world where churches have become the centres of their communities by embracing the sustainable agendas of sharing, recycling, reusing and reducing. Imagine a world where the supreme god is not consumerism, the supreme philosophy not capitalism, and the supreme achievement not wealth. Imagine churches spreading ripples of community and social capital out into the world and challenging our individualism and selfishness. Imagine a church that is not a reactive respondent to social concerns, but a proactive leader that forges new ways of living for society and bravely confronts and overcomes change. Imagine a church flocked with young people drawn by the relevance of the eco-theology and sustainable lifestyle messages of the church and engaged in the many environmental programs being run by churches around the world. Imagine a church revitalised, redirected and full of the Holy Spirit going about the Lord’s work in renewing all creation. Imagine the church today responding to this call to convert policy into praxis and words into action.
I know all this is hard to picture, but I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I believe our dreams for the church in this area are currently too small. There are some wonderful churches out there doing things for the environment at the moment, and there have been great successes through programs like community gardens in bringing churches into community and community into churches, yet how often do we think beyond trying to make our own church a little bit more sustainable?
Yet it is essential that we take a leadership role within the environmental movement because ultimately this is not about an ETS or a Carbon Tax, it’s not about multinational corporations or e-waste, it’s not about deforestation or even climate change. These are all important issues, but they are only a part of the problem. The root of all this is a spiritual crisis. Ultimately the ecological crisis is only the visible signs of a spiritual tumour. This is really about what role humanity should play in the global ecosystem. It’s really about the right and wrong of our interactions with other creatures. It’s about what is sacred. And ultimately it's really about who we worship – God or ourselves? The church is in a unique position to answer these questions.
Also, think about the many assets we have as a church: our social capital, the way faith can change people, our moral compass, the power of prayer, our long tradition of respect for the environment throughout the history of the church through leaders like St Francis of Assisi, and our tradition of leading social changes like the abolition of slavery, civil rights and the endangered species act in the USA. We have enormous potential clout, and an incredible ability to create change and act as God’s hands and feet in the world. We have done so many times before, and I believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to do so again, both as a church and as individuals.
Growing up, I never questioned that one person could make a difference.  With the books and movies I watched, it would have been hard to. As a kid, I watched the purple alien Widget the World Watcher save the planet from pollution countless times and was told “the power is yours” by Captain Planet and the Planateers until I believed it. Later, I was inspired by classic heroes like Simba the Lion King, Pocahontas, Frodo, Harry Potter, and Spider Man. I came to particularly love books with unlikely heroes, like Emily Rodda’s Rowan of Rin or Deltora Quest, where Lief, a lowly blacksmith’s son in a kingdom under the oppression of the evil Shadow Lord is sent on a quest to recover the lost gems of the Belt of Deltora, only to eventually find out at the end of the quest that he is the rightful king and the only one who can wield the power of the belt and save the kingdom. It’s a twist you don’t expect, having guessed that just about everyone else in the story might be the king, but never Lief. We are too close to Lief, too familiar with the character, to realise that there is more to him than meets the eye. In the same way, sometimes we don’t realise what we are capable of until we have done it.
We are the people we are for a reason, and God puts us into the places he has assigned for us for a reason. And while God doesn’t need us to bring about God’s will God chooses to use us anyway. In the same way, God could thunder from heaven and save the world from the ecological crisis, but that is not how God works, instead God raises up heroes for just such a time as this, and who knows, maybe you are one of those heroes? You don’t have to do anything big to be a hero.
Every time you recycle a can, fix a leaking tap, or have a shorter shower, you are being a hero. Every time you pull out a plug when you stop using an appliance, buy sustainable seafood or Fairtrade coffee, or tell someone about the importance of acting for the environment, you are being a hero. And by being a part of this congregation and helping Canberra City to earn this award, you have all been heroes. 
For any of you who don’t already know, the Five Leaf Eco-Awards are a pilot ecumenical environmental change program for churches and religious bodies that provides assistance, inspiration and recognition for environmental achievements. I have come here today to present this church with the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Eco-Worship Award in recognition of the many eco-themed services you have held, particularly in this evening service.
Can I please ask Rev. Myung-Hwa Park to come forward to accept this award on behalf of the church?
Thank you, and I look forward to working with you all to achieve more of the awards in the program.
Oh, before I go, a little PS. We are having an open day at Greenhills on the 7th of August from 1pm – 4pm, and it would be really great if we could get a couple of volunteers to help guide tours around the environmental walks on the site. A script will be provided and it will mean a lot to the people of Greenhills to see some young people from the working bees, retreat etc. participating in the site again like this. Let me know if you can come.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Romans 8:19

Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
Genesis 2:15

The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability

1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.

2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).

3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).

4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)

5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).

Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+