On the sixth day of Christmas...
"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them..." Exodus 20.11
Six geese a-laying suggests the six days of creation (on the seventh God rested). The egg itself is a potent symbol of fecundity and indeed of the world as a whole, bursting with life. Like the moth struggling out of the cocoon to become a butterfly, the chick has to peck its way out of the egg in order to stretch its wings and embrace life.
Today we are more conscious than ever of the fragility of life. We have long been aware of the power and beauty of nature. At one point in history we thought that science was going to unravel the mystery of life and there would be no more secrets in the universe. Nowadays scientists are more modest about their scope because it seems like the further the boundaries are pushed, whether under the microscope or the through the telescope, the more there is to discover. Yet it could all be lost for everyone and forever on account of humanity's shocking failure to steward creation, unless we act on what environmental science is telling us now.
Whatever its origins, Covid 19 has caught us up in one storm with an urgency which may help us face the other, whose destructive potential is actually far more serious. So much hope is pinned on the successful roll out of all these vaccines. May this hope be realised! But it would all be for nothing if we simply breathe a collective sigh of relief and return to normal. The "new normal" must not be normal at all. "Building back better" must not mean intensifying what we were up to before: our plans, projects and cherished ways of living. God forbid!
Life after Covid must be sufficiently different to alter the disastrous course we are currently steering towards irreversible climate change. It must take into account the legitimate aspirations of millions of formerly impoverished citizens of developing countries, to share the benefits which residents of first world countries have been enjoying for years. It must strike a new balance between our desires and what the earth can provide sustainably and it must provide justice, stability, equality and respect for all. If civilisation is measured in how a society cares for its most vulnerable that must surely also include our fellow residents on planet earth, who populate our skies and our waterways as well as the dry land.
For people of faith, this is nothing new. The Bible is replete with all these exhortations. The problem has been our disobedience, our conformity to the ways of the world rather than our courageous modelling of the Jesus way: "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself..." (Philippians 2. 6-8)