Year B - November

Environmental Lectionary Notes – November 2021 up to Advent,  year B

November 7th – changing direction of life.

The Greek word often used in the Bible for ‘repent’, ‘Metanoia’ has the sense of turning one’s life around, of changed ways of thinking and behaving. It is not then simply about recognising personal wrong and being sorry but changing how one lives. It is sometimes easy to think of ‘sin’, doing what causes harm or doesn’t do good, as an individual thing, but it is also worth remembering organisations can need to repent too. The People of Nineveh in Jonah averted a great calamity because they and the city realised how they were living wasn’t right and changed. In our day we face a great calamity if we do not change the way we live, and this is not just about individuals but organisations and nations, indeed they play a far more important role if we are to avert major climate and environmental damage. This calamity isn’t going to be caused by God, but by human beings, especially those in wealthier nations. Our ‘message of Jonah’ is urgent, and we need to repent and change away from the wasteful and unequal economic structures and life choices that are causing so much damage.

Changing our lives to follow Christ requires of us, like the first disciples, to be prepared to leave things behind and focus on Jesus call on our lives.  Many of the ways we use our fast production easy disposal consumer culture to make our lives easier need to be left behind. Governments like to emphasise the idea that green technology will simply replace climate damaging processes, and no-one will have to make any sacrifices. Green technologies are an important part of the change we need, but without a change of attitudes and values, indeed without the willingness to make sacrifices for others, we are never going to tackle the real problem which is human selfishness, greed and lack of concern for the humans and other than humans we share life with.

November 14th – the ‘day of the Lord’

Both the passage from Daniel and the Gospel of Mark look to the ‘day oof the Lord’. In the imagery they invoke they reflect the two sides of this day of the final coming of the Kingdom and the end of the way the world is often far from that Kingdom. So, it is a day of judgement and turmoil but also of liberation and resurrection. Indeed, this can be two sides of the same coin as the powerful and wealthy are judged and those they have exploited liberated. This Sunday comes at the end of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. One of the main issues it will have hopefully faced is the issue of climate justice between nations and peoples as well as between humans and the environment we share. Climate change is caused by gases released from fossil fuels and from large scale farming and waste. The reality is that the wealthy nations have become wealthy by producing nearly all of these gases, whilst it is the poor nations who have contributed little climate change who often suffer its worst effects. Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels lasts hundreds of years in the atmosphere and so it is not enough to become low carbon economies now in places like Britain as our past carbon-fuelled growth is still causing climate change and will be for years to come. We need to take responsibility for that past damage and use our wealth to help the poorer nations both in protecting them from the effects of climate change but also to help their development in low carbon ways, so they are no longer poor. We not they need to bear the price of this.

November 21st - ‘Christ the King’ (last Sunday before Advent)

Christ the King is in some ways an ambiguous concept. Kings and Kingdoms can seem archaic and also evoke images of power and wealth. Yet often Jesus subverts this imagery by portraying his Kingship as one of weakness and service not power and domination. And so, he doesn’t deny he is a king before Pilate but that says that his kingdom is not of this world, not a kingdom fought for by weapons and armies, indeed it is a kingdom whose king is prepared to allow his life to be taken for the sake of others. Yet this kingdom is not ‘otherworldly’ in location only in operation. And so, we prayer ‘your will Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.

The book of Revelation offers a far more powerful vision of Jesus as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all things and the ultimate power in all creation through all time. Yet that vision will also go on to show Jesus as the ‘lamb who was slain’ and in this lies his power and because of this all nations of every tribe and tongue worship him. The one through whom all things are created finally is revealed as the one through whom they are re-created, but not through power and conquest but through death and resurrection. In Revelation’s final vision the new Jerusalem comes out of heaven and fills the whole world as a restored paradise with the tree of life for the healing of the nations and the end of death and suffering. This New Creation is not however a replacement. In Greek there are two words for ‘new’, Nea and Kaine. The former means new as in something different to the old, but the later the old made as new, a renewal not a replacement, and it is this word, Kaine, that the Bible uses to speak of the New Creation in Christ. In God’s understanding there is no Planet B, and whilst we can look in hope to the final act of God’s transformation of creation in Christ, we are called as his servants and citizens of his Kingdom now to work to realise that vision in all creation in our time and place.

Page last updated: 22nd October 2021 6:20 PM