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Down to earth

"The earth belongs unto the Lord and all that it contains..." Psalm 24.1

Today is Earth Day. I have been celebrating by getting immersed in the stuff, completing a project of several weeks, to dig back the encroaching undergrowth around the manse garden fence. (My only regret is the disturbance I may have caused to the creatures who inhabited this verge - which is tempered every time I gaze at the wilderness immediately beyond!)

The opening chapters of the Bible establish human responsibility to look after the earth God has created because he loves it and cares about it. Over the millennia this divine injunction has become misinterpreted as a licence to plunder. With scarcely concealed glee we tear into new areas of rainforest, excavate fresh seams of coal and iron, drill ever deeper into the ocean beds and sink shafts into the desert... for the sole purpose of extracting the fuel and elements we expect to be available to us at diminishing costs, to support our increasingly sophisticated lifestyles. We're all at it. Well, the vast majority of us are.

Which is why we need Earth Day and why we need those we probably regard as eccentric or worse. Because they bring home to us that "uncomfortable truth' which US politician Al Gore rebuilt his career upon: that we need to change the way we inhabit our planet. It makes sense and it is the right thing to do. But the ultimate reason, which politics won't mention and secular society is in denial over is: that one day we shall have to give an account to the owner for the way we have invested the trust he has placed in us of his precious handiwork. (Read Matthew 25. 14-30 and Luke 19. 11-27)

In the meantime, the Lord is allowing us to bring judgment upon ourselves. Only a handful of political leaders and few scientists dispute the link between human behaviour and climate change. The effects threaten our coveted lifestyles. Wickedly, those who are suffering first are those most vulnerable and least responsible. But the consequences are coming to us all - unless coronavirus gets us first.

Talking of which, it is going to be salutary when the statistics emerge about the (beneficial) effect of the lockdown on nature and the environment. While I do not believe that God inflicted the global pandemic, might it be what is required to change our habits, deepen our mutual concern and give us a glimpse of the positive difference we can make, by addressing together the emergencies we face?

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