A Methodist Way of Life - Commitment 8: We will care for creation and all God’s gifts
by Rev Jacky Quarmby 24 June 2022
In the past, the Christian Church has often been accused of not being that interested in the environment and so those people who were concerned about the earth, the forests, the creatures were drawn to New Age and pagan religions, which appeared to treat the earth with more love and respect. What many people did not know, however, is that Christianity in this country has two roots - Roman Christianity which was brought to these shores by Augustine and the older Celtic Christianity, which already flourished in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Roman Christianity, which has had the stronger influence, tended to separate the spiritual or supernatural from the natural and regarded the natural (the environment, food, daily life, having children) as being somehow less important than things of the spirit.
Celtic Christianity, on the other hand, was much more earthy. The Celtic Christians saw all of life as a prayer and their daily lives, their work, their meals, their relationships as part of their offering to God. They prayed throughout the day and felt themselves to be constantly in God’s presence, even if they weren’t doing specifically religious things.
An important part of Celtic Christianity was a love of the natural world. They believed that God had created a beautiful world to be enjoyed and to be cherished and their role as God’s servants was to live in harmony with all living creatures. The Celtic Church saw in Christ a man who loved the natural world and constantly saw within it examples of God’s love. So Jesus pointed to the lilies and said that even the finest Kings are not clothed as beautifully as these. Then he pointed to the lambs and the sheep, who trusted in their shepherd to lead them to places of safety and said “I am your shepherd”. To Jesus, the natural world spoke volumes about God’s love and care, not only for humanity but for creation itself.
Because of their beliefs, Celtic Christians were careful stewards of their Creation, caring for injured birds that were washed up on the shores near their homes and making sure that whenever they cut down trees they always planted new ones, so that stocks were replenished. They believed that to love God, was to love the Creation that God had made.
In more recent times, it has been good to see the Christian Church embrace its Celtic roots and take more seriously the importance of caring for the environment. At this time when climates are changing, we can all do something to love and care for God’s Creation. Here to finish, are some simple things that we can do to make a difference.
Grow in our love of creation …
Go for walks.
Grow some herbs on the window ledge,
Know by name the trees, plants and wildlife in the area.
Plant trees to mark special events.
Plant pollen-rich flowers for bees and insects
Feed the birds
… and support creation by our actions
Buy locally grown produce
Consider animal welfare when buying fish, meat and eggs
Buy fairly traded products to support small communities
Reduce water and energy use
Walk or cycle for short journeys
Recycle as much as possible
Pick up litter
Holiday in Britain to limit air travel
Song: All creatures of our God and King
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There is no plant in the ground but tells of your beauty, O Christ.
There is no life in the sea but proclaims your goodness.
There is no bird on the wing, there is no star in the sky,
there is nothing beneath the sun but is full of your blessing.
Lighten my understanding of your presence all around, O Christ.
Kindle my will to be caring for Creation.
Prayer by Phillip Newell