A favourite possession of mine is a large, inflatable globe on which there is an image of the earth as seen from outer space. With all its green, blue, and whiteness it looks serene, whole. There are no lines, no demarcation zones, no borders, boundaries, or barriers, no countries and continents dissected into smaller, quarrelsome bits. From outer space one can almost imagine that timeless moment when God looked at what had been created and pronounced it to be very good.
From the Gospel of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through the Word, and without the Word not one thing came into being.
In other words, every part of creation, every drop of water, every grain of sand, every leaf, every molecule, and cell, has the presence of God within it. This Word of God spoken at the beginning, that took on flesh in Jesus Christ, is part of everything that lives, moves, and has its being on this planet Earth. This places the conversation around the environment and ecojustice in a context that Christians cannot choose to ignore, thinking that it is has nothing to do with the life, the theology, or the worship of the Church.
In December 2022, Canada is hosting COP15 (UN Conference of the Parties) on Biodiversity in Montréal. Ten thousand participants are expected from countries around the world, including representatives from many indigenous nations who are getting financial support to participate.
The Conference will address the ongoing and precipitous decline in plant and wildlife species worldwide. It is now increasingly recognized that protection of plants and wildlife (“nature and species”) plays a vital role in combatting climate change. Areas of discussion at COP15 will include commitments to protect 30% of lands worldwide by 2030, and commitments to establish a Global Biodiversity Framework. Canada also wants to see indigenous nations be a central voice in the discussion and show how Canadian practices (although imperfect) can be used as an example of working with indigenous nations on environmental policy.
“Climate Action” is the United Nations 13th Sustainable Development Goal. The UN’s 2019 SDG report highlighted an unprecedented and dangerous decline in global biodiversity, with over 1,000,000 species threatened with extinction, a rate that is accelerating.
This looming catastrophic loss is not limited by human-made boundaries or borders. It is everywhere, it affects all of us. What is happening in Brazil, in Ethiopia, in Australia, impacts us every day. Because in the beginning, God, in the Creator’s infinite wisdom, placed us within a creation in which every living thing is connected to and interdependent with every other living thing.
So what can we – you and I – do? We can learn about COP15. How are our churches involved and connected with it? We can pay attention to issues of ecojustice, ask difficult questions of ourselves, and read to become informed. We can encourage backyard biodiversity by leaving fallen leaves on our lawns, not cleaning out our gardens through the winter and into the spring, to provide shelter, food, and nesting places for birds, animals, and insects. And we can pray. We can pray hard. We can pray through Christ, the Alpha, the Omega, who is before all things, and in whom all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). Amen.
The Rev. Lynn Mitchell