All Things Bright And Beautiful by Dionne Gravesande

Growing up in the UK meant my school days included a morning assembly with morning worship, hymns, and prayers. Recently, when l listened to reports of unpredicted climates, I had cause to reflect on one of those hymns, specifically a song written by Cecil Frances Alexander, an Anglo-Irish hymnwriter and poet. It goes:

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
‘Twas God that made them all

Indeed, God is the Creator of all things, yet human activity continues to have a devastating effect on the planet. Whether you watch the climate crisis on BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera, or CNN, we cannot sit back and watch how the world is going down because of trouble caused by humanity. Climate change is no joke, and every human being needs to get involved before it is too late.

As a Pentecostal I love singing the hymns of praise and worship, and I also want to activate my faith in practical ways. In Genesis, Scripture tells us humans are set apart from all other creatures as ‘being created in the image of God’ – all humans are equal before God no matter who we are. However, we see and, in some cases, we experience that the world doesn’t actually work like this. The traumatic calamities of floods, extreme heat, and cyclones in recent months have made more people aware something is not right with our ecosystem.

Both people and planet are being displaced; birds are migrating out of seasons; fishes and whales are diminishing… In truth, it feels like creation is now disordered and the wonderful cycle of seasons God created is now distorted. Our climate has really changed. We no longer experience the normal cycle of dry and rainy seasons. We no longer enjoy the freshness of the air and the waters in our rivers and seas. We can no longer stay out in the sun because of its penetrating heat. Yet still, I believe that human beings are given the responsibility to care and protect all that God has made: land, seas, air, water, birds, plants, and all living creatures. God made human beings stewards of His good and beautiful creation. But collectively we have failed miserably in our responsibility.

Greed and self-interest, together with a total wantonness and disregard for the welfare of creation, have driven our craving to have the latest new gadget. Reconciliation between the economy and ecology is urgently needed in order to stop the rapid destruction of the basic conditions of human beings throughout the world. It is not those trying to protect the environments who are the “criminals” here, but those destroying the environment for “profit” and “greed of money”. In that sense I guess I, like others, are calling for a new way of doing things.

God has made provision through land, water, fruits from the tree, and food from the earth. In the air we breathe, we can feel His Spirit: the breath of life He gave all living beings. Climate change and environmental issues should become part of our spirituality, because land, water, and air are essential parts of God’s wonderful creation. I want to encourage you to also embrace the climate-conscious spirit, so as to confront the powers who are procrastinating on actions that can save lives and livelihoods.

There is an uncomfortable truth at the heart of the climate justice message: it is true that wealthy countries in the global north hold responsibility for driving climate change, but this does not mean individuals are not to blame for climate change. The reality is, the changing climate is a result of how our society has developed over time and how it is currently structured and, since the issue is a systemic one, we should all recognise we are all part of the system that has perpetuated this injustice. As part of this system, it is our shared responsibility — both as individuals and as communities — to use our voices and actions to leave the world a better place than we found it.

We have taken so much from the land that it feels natural for us to continue doing what has always been done. When populations are increasing and the demand for food is multiplying, some will argue it is justified. But it is vital to keep hearing the importance of the environment and the need for balance in the ecosystem, which, if lost, means an important part of creation is lost. Our challenge is to care for the creation God has entrusted to us, and we must act collectively and in our individual capacity, so that our climate and environment will survive and continue to be bright and beautiful for the generations that will come after us.

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