Blog #13: What Remains?

April 8, 2021
Rosie Evans
With last week’s Easter celebrations marking the end of Lent, also our Caring for Creation Lent course concluded, after 5 weeks, 10 sessions, and with 15 people who regularly showed up. Was it time well spent? Did we learn something that we want to take forward? And can the rest of us, our blog readers, benefit from some of the takeaways?
The short answer is: YES! When 15 people come together regularly to pray, share, and brainstorm, all focused on the question what we can do as people of faith to care for God’s creation, a lot of great resources come together. This blog shares some of them as well as some of the ideas we came up with.

The last verse of my favoruite prayer, Living Lightly, from the Caritas  NZ Aotearoa Prayer Collection that we kept coming back to during the course. Much recommended!

Firstly, we shared with each other names and stories of people who have spoken out about the climate crisis or climate injustice and who have inspired us. Of course, Greta Thunberg, who began the Fridays For Future Campaign, was on the list. And one of my personal goals in the coming weeks will be to make time to watch the film created about her work, I am Greta. Another person worth looking up is Hannah Malcolm, a writer and winner of the 2019 Theology Slam. She speaks about our need to lament and to turn to God for guidance, well put in a podcast from Cranmer Hall in Durham
Secondly, we learnt about laments. Writing a lament, expressing grief and sorrow, was one of our homework assignments. It was not an easy task. Lamenting doesn’t really seem to be in our vocabulary or practice any more. Walking in the Wilderness, a book of daily reflections for the Lenten season, had suggested this as a spiritual practice. And while the lament exercise wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, we did reflect on how it is an important practice for people of faith. The Psalms of Lamentation are a great reminder of this, as theologian Walter Brueggemann points out in his paper "The Costly Loss of Lament", worth checking out. And if you’re wondering where you may have heard that reference before: the other Lent course this year was following his book, ‘A Way Other Than Our Own’.
Thirdly, we delved into Psalms with a Caring for Creation theme. Our course booklet encouraged us to read certain Psalms, including Psalm 24, which begins “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it”. Psalm 146 is another Psalm that we read through, and used for ‘lectio divina’, a beautiful spiritual practice. As well as praying or chanting Psalms, they can, of course, also be sung. I took advantage of this for our Lent group by sharing both more traditional renditions of the sung Psalms and more modern versions. The Psalms Project is a band aiming to set all 150 psalms to music and I have found their music to be particularly beautiful. 
Fourthly, we explored some beautiful, though at times challenging, Bible passages that can help us to connect matters of creation and the environment with our faith. You might also want to check them out! We all know the most famous one, of course: Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-28. Others included: Isaiah 43, Luke 14:12-14, Deuteronomy 11, Job 12:7-9, Luke 12:15, and Mark 8:34 to name a few. 
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly: Throughout the course, we were able to build fellowship. I’m rather missing the Lent group now that we have finished the sessions. We may want to come together again for walks in nature, joint activity, or even action, and certainly for sharing music of hope. Because that is what we all shared, our hope as Christians in God who loves us and cares for us, even when times are tough. Stuart Townend’s song ‘There is a Hope' is a great reminder and worth listening to. As one of us in the group observed: "That’s all we can and must do: Listen to God, trust Him, and be guided by Him!".
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