Caring for the wider creation and one another
Creation is crying out – how will we, as the church, answer? Saying Yes to Life, the new book by Ruth Valerio, will help us explore a response, writes Gideon Heugh
Saying Yes to Life is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book for 2020
Caring for the Earth is a more vital issue than ever. Extreme weather events, failed harvests, mass species extinctions. Creation is crying out – how will we, as the church, answer?
I always find it perplexing when people dismiss the Bible as irrelevant to current issues. The way we treat creation is one of the crucial topics of our time, and the Bible addresses it from its very first lines.
This is the idea at the heart of Saying Yes to Life – the timely new book from Ruth Valerio. Drawing from the creation story in Genesis 1, the book brings together biblical principles with some of today’s most pressing issues. Each chapter reflects on one of the days of creation and the things – including people – that God created on that day, before finally looking at sabbath rest.
Inside the book you’ll find diverse contributions from places Tearfund works across the world, along with prayers and discussion points to help you reflect over Lent. The book could be a great resource for church small group discussion, or could help you put together a thought-provoking series of sermons. There are also accompanying resources online, such as how to set up a prayer room on the issues covered.
‘Creation is crying out – how will we, as the church, answer?’
A creating God
We rightly focus a lot in the church on worshipping a saving God – a God of redemption. However, Ruth argues in her book that we miss out on an important aspect of God if we forget that he is also a creator. Salvation and creation go hand-in-hand.
Ruth highlights this by offering a fascinating comparison between the Genesis creation story and the creation story of the Babylonians, the Enuma Elish, which would have been one of the dominant narratives in the ancient Near-East. The picture that we get in our Bible, compared to this other story, is of one supreme God, who doesn't have to battle demons, goddesses or other strange creatures. God simply speaks and the world comes into being, and he does this seemingly out of pure joy: ‘he saw that it was very good’. (Genesis 1:31)
And, of course, we are part of that goodness. We mustn’t forget that God’s beautiful creation includes us. We cannot tackle poverty without thinking about the air that people breathe, the seas they fish in, the lands they live and farm off. And we cannot tackle poverty without looking at ourselves, and the problems we create through our consumerism. People and planet, wealthy and poor – we are all interconnected. This is the message of Ruth’s new book, and it’s a message we all need to hear.
‘We cannot tackle poverty without looking at ourselves, and the problems we create through our consumerism’
'I would be thrilled to see Baptist churches in the UK and around the world picking up Saying Yes to Life,' writes Ruth. 'Wherever we live and whatever church we are a part of, we are called to care for the wider creation and one another, and this book will help you do just that by providing biblical reflection, practical action and inspiring you to love this amazing world.'
Saying Yes to Life is the book commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury for Lent 2020, and written by Tearfund’s Director of Advocacy and Influencing, Dr Ruth Valerio.
'Lent is a time for us to focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection, and our reconciliation and atonement with God through his sacrifice. This year, I hope you might spend some time thinking about our reconciliation with God’s creation as we explore the creation story of Genesis 1 together. Ruth Valerio’s book is perfect for individuals and groups to think, reflect, pray and be challenged together.' Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury
Gideon Heugh is a copywriter at Tearfund. This blog first appeared in the Spring 20 edition of Tear Times, and is republished with permission
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