by The Rev. Alison Lee
The Diocesan Creation Care Council has worked hard this past year to clarify how we convey to the Diocese what we discuss, and more importantly, how we as people of faith, as Episcopalians live into caring for God’s creation in active ways.
Many of our efforts have been concentrated on trying to tease apart what appears to be an overwhelming problem that our planet is facing, namely climate change. When we are overwhelmed, frequently we experience despair and inertia, neither of which is conducive to hope and action. The purpose of the Creation Care Council is to create avenues of education, formation, discussion, and ideas for advocacy for all in our Diocese. This is an understanding in an immediate manner that we here in the Diocese of Arizona are all neighbours, from Page to Nogales, from Eager to Bullhead City, from high country to desert, from metro to rural. In this landscape, both physical and spiritual, we are neighbours, and we try to look out for one another —sharing ideas, learning from each other even if we don’t always agree, following Christ who points us to God who created creation and declared ‘it was good,’ and who made us stewards of God’s creation.
Climate change is complex, large, and touches all of us in a myriad of diverse ways, some ways in concert, some in opposition. Our goal is to help people live more deeply and in greater awareness of the theological, faithful understanding that all of creation is our neighbour; to offer tools for people to begin a discussion or go deeper into practical lifestyle choices that have a positive impact on the environment or engage in advocacy. In this past Sunday’s Gospel, the young man asks Jesus ‘who is my neighbour?’ and Jesus points to the least likely person in that context, in that parable, the Samaritan. Jesus pushed the boundaries of the young man and invited him, and therefore us, to explore new ways of living into relationship with God and one another. Can we not go further, and ask ourselves if all things in creation – air, water, earth, fire, winged ones, four-leggeds, insects, reptiles, swimmers, plants, shrubs, trees — in short all of creation — are our neighbour?
If you are curious about learning how to engage more with this absolutely vital (Oxford Dictionary definition: necessary for the success or continued existence of something) topic, please visit the Creation Care website at https://azdiocese.org/creation-care/ for liturgical resources, prayers, reading material, actions you can take, and more. Like the Creation Care for the Arizona Episcopal Diocese Facebook page to find out about upcoming events and opportunities to get involved. Please consider finding out if your congregation is holding a book study to read a book about climate change or suggest that your congregation do so, such as Jim Antal’s book Climate Church Climate World; ask your vestry to consider resolutions for action that will reduce the carbon footprint; talk with one another and share ideas. Can we allow ourselves to be challenged by the Gospel and live into the Gospel even if it is personally uncomfortable?
Give thanks for the glory, the beauty, the diversity, the ineffable grace, and creativity that God has shared with us. Read the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a 19th century British poet and Jesuit priest, who wrote the most exquisite poetry combining creation and a profound awareness of how God is in our midst. Write your Member of Congress, recycle, reduce, reuse, love God, love all neighbours, Samaritans and scorpions, and Praise Him.
Pied Beauty, Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
The Rev. Alison Lee is the Interim Rector at Church of the Epiphany in Flagstaff and is a member of the diocesan Creation Care Council.