Something to think about
Our first encounter with Noah's ark is often as a children's toy or in a story book. The colours and the imagined sounds of the animals grab children's attention. The account in Genesis though is not of the sort we would normally expect in a tale for children. It is terrifying - 'everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.' How can we make sense of destruction on this scale? How are we to understand God's action here?
Answers to these questions often lead to discussion of what theologians call 'the problem of evil'. Why is it that a good, just and all-powerful God allows evil to exist?
I'm not going to attempt to answer that in these few lines! It's worth noting that some theological thinkers have asked whether this is a question it is even possible to discuss. Framing the problem of evil in this way leads us to seek some kind of general all-purpose solution. Maybe evil and suffering doesn't work like this. We can't stand outside it, analyse it, know every aspect of the situation, and know God so absolutely, that we can explain once-and-for-all why bad things happen.
Nor should we be content to withdraw from wrestling with suffering and responding to disasters. We may not be able to neatly solve the problem of evil but we can't simply shrug our shoulders and say 'it's a mystery' either.
So what can we do? We can place ourselves in the midst of challenging situations. We can reach out to those experiencing devastating events. We can trust in God's goodness, even when we cannot see exactly where God is at work. We can acknowledge the limits of our understanding and re-commit ourselves to listening for God's guidance.
As a result of the climate crisis the world is facing the possibility of destructive events that may even approach the scale captured in this verse from Genesis. What will we do in the face of this threat? What does God ask of us?
Something to do
Review the actions you are taking to further climate justice. What have you committed to? What more could you do?
Get some ideas from Christian Aid's work on climate justice by clicking the link below.
Climate justice - find out more
Something to pray
Great Spirit, heavenly Father, source of life and love. We rejoice and give thanks for your bountiful planet.
Great plains, verdant forests, deserts of rock, sand and ice, mountain ranges, rivers and oceans: ecosystems to meet the needs of all your creatures.
We mourn our separation from you, each other, ourselves and all creation.
We have forsaken your calling to be custodians:
When we drill for oil, gas and minerals, despoiling the earth, poisoning the waters and fouling the air with climate changing gases;
When we fell ancient trees, over-exploit the oceans and techno-farm food, destroying soils, traditional food systems and indigenous communities;
When we desecrate your world with trash where nothing in nature is intended to go to waste;
When we live lavish lifestyles and turn our other cheek to poverty, injustice, war, famine and unbearable human suffering;
When world leaders and multi-national corporations put profit before the wellbeing of people, communities and a flourishing planet.
We pray that our words, our pilgrimage and our actions may be a witness to world leaders, encouraging and inspiring them to make radical commitments. Commitments that will restore the earth and lead to justice for communities confronted by the climate crisis. And may they lead us onto a new path for a sustainable future where we live in harmony with all life.
Open our senses to all we encounter and be with us that we may walk in safety. Awaken us to our true nature, to live in peace with you, each other and all creation. By restoring harmony and balance we too will be restored to wholeness.
(A prayer by Bishop Geoff Davies, Former Bishop of Umzimvubu, South Africa)