22nd August 2021 – Proper 16: Joshua 24:1-2a,14-18, Psalm 34:15-22, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69
The passage from Joshua comes towards the end of the book and towards the end of Joshua’s own life. The Israelites have settled in the promised land, each tribe in its own territory and peace has been established. Joshua calls together all the tribes and their leaders for one last exhortation that they live according to the ways ordained by God. It is as if they are again standing for the first time on the threshold of a new land, on the threshold of a new life. They are enjoined to leave behind old ways of living, old gods and old allegiances.
Do we need to reimagine ourselves as being on the threshold of a new beginning, a new of life? Is this how we should be approaching the COP26 climate conference? Then nations and NGOs, communities and other parties, will gather to make agreements about new ways of living in a carbon neutral world, to affirm ways of ensuring worldwide biodiversity, setting up funds to enable everyone to be part of the new future. We will all need to stand alongside one another as let go of old ways of doing things, as we leave behind of old habits, and forsake our reliance on fossil fuels.
If so should we not now be reassessing our lives, preparing how we can make and sustain the necessary changes we must make, and encouraging and supporting each other, and above all celebrating with joy our new greener, cleaner, kinder future?
May God bless our endeavours – for “The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them and delivers them from all their troubles.”
I would not wish to say that the current climate crisis is either the work of God or the work of the ‘devil’. The world God has created is beautiful and complex. It is a world in which things evolve and continue to re create in new and diverse forms. It is a world in which cause and consequence exist. It is a world which is continuing to develop over time. It is a world in which God has created humankind as a being with intelligence, imagination, determination, and with an awareness of right and wrong. It is a being with unique skills and possibilities, and it is a being which can choose to have an affinity with God.
Depending how we use these attributes, we are capable of doing great good or of doing great harm. When we – and/ or others – are not in tune with God, our actions can become so mired in greed, dishonesty, hatred, apathy, and prejudice, we can describe our situation as being evil and bedevilled. We can feel as if we are struggling with forces or powers beyond our comprehension. Perhaps this is when we need to put on the armour of God, to refurnish our lives with the gifts of God, to be open to God in prayer and to be constant in seeking channels through which God’s Spirit can flow.
If this seems hard to grasp, we need to recall the words of Simon Peter, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”