The days ( and years) ahead in all our lives will require extraordinary love, forgiveness and generosity.
For the churches to burn brightly as signs of hope in the gloom of climate crisis, we need fuel; we need to fill up with inspiration, for where there is commitment, there is also always, the danger of burnout.
So, above all, seek out occasions of feeding this Easter Season, and if you’re shaping worship or events, look any how they encourage and sustain, rather than macho considerations of sacrifice. You can’t compete with the sacrifice of Christ. You can only share in it.
For that, though, there needs to be trust in the possibility that we can be fed. I know that, as with politics in a time of brexit, disabling disillusion stalks our consciousness: the disconnect between threatening reality and ‘theology’ means the stage is free for harmful responses to our situation: the pernicious ‘common sense’ of denial funded by growth fixated commerce; the bitter blame game that polarises and ignores the need for just transition; and of course, the ‘rationality’ of despair.
So let Easter be to you a time of refreshment, as well as of confrontation, in solidarity with Christ on the Cross, on Good Friday, with the genuine threats to Creation.
So, perhaps, play this game: Creation itself, like mission, is a partnership. We cannot therefore ‘imitate’ Christ or be ‘Godly’ by isolation, by selfish power-games. Life, like God, is a community project. Communion.
Most Christian traditions are content to talk of the ‘Communion of Saints’ ( the Church in heaven and on Earth). Of course, they interpret their relationship variously, but nonetheless… The language we are learning again to ‘drive’, to inhabit, and to pray with, is broader. Allowing the Voices of the Earth the standing of fellow worshippers leads us into a ‘Communion of Creation’.
It may not often have been put that way, but it certainly has genuine ancient roots in the churches of the British Isles.
I’ve recently been able to refer to stories of St Columba and his followers; how, when faced with real peril from natural forces, they chose blessing and friendship over cursing and emnity.
There’s wisdom there. In a time of accelerating climate crisis, we might be threatened by natural forces, though these are not our enemies. Rather, they are allies in the fight for survival, to be abused at our peril. The war against the environment, against Creation, cannot be won. The alternative approach, to befriend and cultivate them, seems to be what we were put here for.
Preparing for Palm Sunday in Iona Abbey, a few days ago, I had the privilege of a conversation with a Christian friend of some years standing, about how they were looking forward to Holy Week and Easter. They certainly found the worship, and the celebrations worthwhile, though it seemed that they had given up some years before on the foreground teaching they were based on. Which, like the community dynamism of the Holy Trinity, ( into whose dance, humanity, in the image of that Communion, is invited, ) should get us moving.
Somehow, again, like politics in the era of brexit, with ecocidal parties courting the popular vote, my friend felt disconnected and bored by a ‘theology” , which had been captured by the professionals and locked away somewhere. Even as Easter approached, they were ‘going along with it’, without being ensnared by the connection with our reality. In a low moment, they might just be content to let Jesus be sold short merely as ‘a good man’. And ‘sin’ was dismissed as some abstract concept, rather than about real damage to Creation.
I hope that in these special days, my friend will find it helpful to recall that Jesus, welcomed by branches, was nailed to a tree; that Christians less precious about letting theology be poetic, see in that the Tree of Life, itself torn from the forest and abused by that wicked use, a fellow creature, finding itself in solidarity with the abuse of Christ by power and Empire.
Sharing, ultimately too, in the triumph of life made new despite it all.
Faith makes connections. If you see them, encourage your friends.