A short confessional thought.
EcoCongregation Scotland has not the time or scope to reinvent the church. On the contrary, it seems that our calling may be to bring out what is authentic and nourishing within the various strands of the faith.
This properly includes prayer of confession of sin, and its essential healing companion, the assurance of pardon/absolution.
In looking over various possibilities for content of the devotional beginning and end of our Gathering, I first considered the Lectionary readings, prescribed or available to quite a few of our congregations. They might read this, if Lent 4 doesn’t get overlaid with Mothering Sunday: itself a chance to reflect on the Pope’s vision of a new relationship with Mother Earth).
Thus Psalm 32 presented itself, and in particular verse 3, which I’ll quote in the Contemporary English version.
Before I confessed my sins,
my bones felt limp,
and I groaned all day long.
The deadly nature of denial, not only of the facts of climate crisis, but also of our own complicity in it, is well worth pondering.
Keeping quiet hurts.
Opening up (to God) heals.
Keeping silent, and pretending that only other people cause the problem is a very twisted way of being, and I would also guess, might make us less open or eager to take and share responsibility for a “just transition”.
If the planet’s future is to be as good as it might be, much that is valued, cherished, taken for granted or relied on must be let go of. For some, that seems easy to say.
Yet given the musical chairs of life, some will have landed at the sharp end, working, perhaps, in headline industries that get the blame for greenhouse gases, and will need a priority of support , be it financial, spiritual, social.
If you’re looking for a carbon neutral world, pray every day for the workers on the rigs, down the mines, or in the factories where the plastics are made.
I’m very cautious of the phrase ‘the Bible teaches’, but statistically at least, in Scripture, the responsibility of nations and collectives for damaging behaviour seems to be more determinative than that of individuals.
The carbon footprint of our society is mine, every bit as much as someone who is longing to get a job as a coal miner.
If I would rather they left the stuff in the ground, then I need loving words and consideration for what it would cost my neighbour.
Not necessarily that such a cost should persuade me to desist from protest and advocacy. But I’ll do it better, more sensitively, and maybe even more effectively if I’m mindful of who pays on my behalf.
As well as, in the more frequent extremes elsewhere in the world, who has already paid for my silence.
No intelligent person, who is not led astray by bogus false science, nor consumed by greed, malice, despair or apathy, will deny the principles of ‘climate change’, nor the urgency of action.
But that’s not the battle. Not even half of it.
It’s not the principles we’ll need God’s help with: its’ the exceptions, the excuses. The postponements, the special cases.
Is there anything which can’t be made a special case?
While we’re on ‘confession’, there’s a famous phrase from St Augustine’s description, in his much-mauled (by Green Christians) ‘Confessions’ which sheds light on this. In his somewhat colourful youth, Augustine says he prayed:
“Lord make me chaste/pure, but not yet”
Is our prayer “Lord make me green, but not yet”? Or have we been keeping that under wraps?
Keeping quiet hurts us.
Opening up heals.
Let’s pray for the courage, and the mutual support of our movement, not to judge, but to encourage each other in our life, in our prayer, in our partnership with Creation.