In September the sixteen-year-old, Greta Thunberg, harshly criticised the United
Nations Climate Change Conference: “This is all wrong”, she said, “I shouldn’t be up
here – I should be in school ... You come to young people for hope? How dare you? You
have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words ... And yet, I’m one
of the lucky ones. People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are
collapsing. We are at the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is
money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?” While there have
been criticisms of her, there is little doubt that Greta has meaningfully influenced
the imagination of young people across the world.
Greta has not been alone. For some time now Extinction Rebellion has been protesting
in cities around the world. In the UK, the movement has picketed several significant
sites and close to 1500 people have been arrested in London alone. The movement’s
logo, a circled hourglass known as the extinction symbol, emphasises that time is fast
running out for many species, including humankind. I am in no way condoning any sort
of violence, but I do endorse the democratic right of people to demonstrate while
recognising that everyone has the right to move around freely and get on with their
More than 30 years ago, in 1988, the Lambeth Conference formulated a model of
mission work for local churches, which became known as the Five Marks of Mission:
1. to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom
2. to teach, baptise and nurture new believers
3. to respond to human need in loving service
4. to seek to transform the unjust structures of society
5. to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and
renew the life of the earth
The fifth mark of mission emerges from the biblical narrative that God is the
creator of the entire cosmos, stressing that absolutely all that is comes from God.
The book of Genesis begins with two accounts of creation: Genesis 1.1-2.4a and
Genesis 2.4b-3.24. Both of which have shaped the doctrine of Creation: the world
and all that it contains comes from the free creative action of a loving God. Though
good, Creation, is in some sense, fallen and not quite as God intended it to be.
However, the key thing we need to take from these two narratives is that it is God’s
world, and we are his stewards. We are responsible for his creation.
Whatever the disagreement among politicians, scientists, family, friends and
neighbours, surely, the only sensible approach is to take the precautionary principle
and act on it. So, we then come to the question, “What must we do about it?”
Despairing paralysis is clearly no option!
Dear Brothers and sisters, in only looking to others, we diminish our own influence
and our own responsibility. In so doing, we neglect our Christian calling and the power
and strength of who we are affirmed in faith to be. Being Christian is a full-time
occupation and an eternal privilege. Being Christian is looking after everything and
everyone in God’s creation, as far as we humanly can, by God’s grace.
God bless you all,