Study Notes

Week 1: A view from Polynesia

Introduction: This week we will be looking at our relationship with the earth

Opening Reflection: Share a time when you have been in awe of creation

World Church Perspective: Read ‘A View from Polynesia’ (Faith in a Changing Climate pg10-11)

Questions:

What interested or surprised you about the experience or response of the Church in Polynesia to creation and climate change?

Share any similarities or differences to the ways in which you know the church is responding – at home or around the world.

Bible Reading: Genesis 2 vs 1-15 (NIV)

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

Another Account of the Creation

In the day that the Lord[a] God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,[b] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

Questions:

How does the passage describe how God created humankind? What does this reveal about the relationship between God, people and the earth?

What is the significance of the task that God assigns to Adam in this passage?

Rt Revd Apimeleki Qilho writes “I derive my identity and sense of belonging from the vanua (land); I am defined by my attachment to my vanua”. How does this attitude compare with our relationship to the earth?

Pope John Paul II said “Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power”, what happens when we become detached from nature? How does our connectedness to the earth impact how we treat the planet?

Application:

How can you use prayer and worship as a means of restoring relationship with the planet? Can you make some time to contemplate and appreciate the planet? Can you ask you church or spiritual leader to speak and pray about climate change during your worship? Choose one way to regularly integrate care of creation into your personal spiritual disciplines.

What practical action could you take – individually and as a community – to strengthen your sense of belonging and attachment to the land?

Prayer:

A Prayer from Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuatagloa, Samoa

Walk with love and care on God’s earth;

Walk with vital awareness

Of God’s comprehensive vision

And purpose for creation;

Walk with awe and gratitude

To ensure justice to the trees and rivers

As well as the person next to you –

They are not without purpose in God’s vision

 

 

Week 2: A view from Myanmar

 

Introduction: This week we will be looking at a number of the different ways in which the climate and ecological crisis is impacting communities

Opening Reflection: How would you describe a healthy environment? Do you, and if so why do you, think a belief in God the Creator leads us to desire a healthy environment for all?1

World Church Perspective: Read ‘A View from Myanmar’ (Faith in a Changing Climate pg12-13)

Questions:

What interested or surprised you about the experience or response of the Church in Myanmar to creation and climate change?

Share any similarities or differences to the ways in which you know the church is responding – at home or around the world.

Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 26 vs 1-15 (NIV)

26 When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3 You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5 you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6 When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, 7 we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9 and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11 Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

12 When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year (which is the year of the tithe), giving it to the Levites, the aliens, the orphans, and the widows, so that they may eat their fill within your towns, 13 then you shall say before the Lord your God: “I have removed the sacred portion from the house, and I have given it to the Levites, the resident aliens, the orphans, and the widows, in accordance with your entire commandment that you commanded me; I have neither transgressed nor forgotten any of your commandments: 14 I have not eaten of it while in mourning; I have not removed any of it while I was unclean; and I have not offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the Lord my God, doing just as you commanded me. 15 Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our ancestors—a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Questions:

In the passage, for what reason did God give the land to the people?

The land is given, but with strings attached. What are the conditions that God gives for ‘possessing’ the land?

Joy Hla Gyaw speaks about the consequences that climate change has on her ‘land flowing with milk and honey’. What are your personal experiences of this?

Sometime the knock-on impacts of climate change (for example Joy mentions the implications on children’s schooling) are almost invisible. What are some of these hidden impacts? How do we bring them to light?

“our efforts might be a drop in the ocean, but these little drops will one day become a mighty ocean”. How can starting small make a difference?

Application:

Chose some areas of modern life – perhaps transport, leisure, diet, TV, advertising, schooling – and consider some of the ways they contribute to or are impacted by climate change.

What practical action could you take – individually and as a community – to live more sustainable lives so that Creation can thrive?

Prayer:

From the Christian Conference of Asia

Creator God, breathing your own life into being,
you gave us the gift of life:
you placed us on this earth
with its minerals and waters,
flowers and fruits,
living creatures of grace and beauty.
You gave us the care of the earth.
Teach us, Creator God of Love,
that the earth and all its fullness is yours,
the world and all who dwell in it.
Call us yet again to safeguard the gift of life.

 

 

 

Week 3: A view from Brazil

 

Introduction: This week we will be looking at attitudes to consumption and socio-economic models that hold profit at the centre.

Opening Reflection: Think about the last item that you bought, where did you buy it from and what factors affected your decision to buy those particular items?

[space to write/ think about the above questions]

Which people have been affected (positively and negatively) when you bought that product? What impact did its production, transport and sale have on the environment? How does this connect to people around the world? 2

World Church Perspective: Read ‘A View from Brazil’ (Faith in a Changing Climate pg14-15)

You also may want to consider the recently reported fires in the Amazon (https://uspglive.org.uk/wpress/2019/08/prayfortheamazon/)

Questions:

What interested or surprised you about the experience or response of the Church in Brazil to creation and climate change?

Share any similarities or differences to the ways in which you know the church is responding – at home or around the world.

Bible Reading: Luke 12: 13-21 (NIV)

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Questions:

In this passage, where did the rich man find security?

Paulo Ueti writes that from many multi-national organisations “profit is the goal and this comes at the cost of human life and the environment”. How do you view the issue of material wealth? To what extent is profit the goal in our own lives? What are the impacts of this for ourselves and others around the globe?

What other benefits might there be for our relationships if we live life more simply and consume less?

Application:

How can we use our money and financial resources (money, investments, pension) for the good of the planet?

Changes to a global financial system that is exploitative can take the combined voices of many. What national or global campaigns can we join to advocate for ecological justice?

Prayer:

From the Latin American Council of Churches3:

A Mapuche* Blessing

God of life, Mother of all, you renew creation.
Bring us peace and justice, ‘balance’ in the Mapuche sense:
balance and harmony for the earth,
balance and harmony for the peoples of the world,
balance and harmony for men and women,
balance and harmony between nature and ourselves and God.

(*Mapuche means ‘people of the earth’. They are the aborigines living in the south of Chile and Argentina. Source: the Mapuche Pastoral Team, Santiago, Chile. From: The website Red de Liturgia, Latin American Council of Churches)

 

Week 4: A view from Madagascar

Introduction: This week we will be looking at the issue of natural disasters

Opening Reflection: Can you think of a recent news story about extreme weather or changes in climate? What have been the impacts?1

World Church Perspective: Read ‘A View from Madagascar’ (Faith in a Changing Climate pg16-17)

Questions:

What interested or surprised you about the experience or response of the Church in Madagascar to creation and climate change?

Share any similarities or differences to the ways in which you know the church is responding – at home or around the world.

Bible Reading: Genesis 41 vs 14-40 (NIV)

14 Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was hurriedly brought out of the dungeon. When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile; 18 and seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19 Then seven other cows came up after them, poor, very ugly, and thin. Never had I seen such ugly ones in all the land of Egypt. 20 The thin and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows, 21 but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had done so, for they were still as ugly as before. Then I awoke. 22 I fell asleep a second time[a] and I saw in my dream seven ears of grain, full and good, growing on one stalk, 23 and seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouting after them; 24 and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. But when I told it to the magicians, there was no one who could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind. They are seven years of famine. 28 It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. 30 After them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land. 31 The plenty will no longer be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, for it will be very grievous. 32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. 33 Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. 35 Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

37 The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?” 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Questions:

Knowing the challenges that were about to face Egypt, how did Joseph respond?

How can we be ‘discerning and wise’ in regards to today’s ecological crisis?

Joseph understood the challenges that were about to face his community and came up with a proposal on how to address them. Revd Canon Samitiana Jhonson shares how the Church in Madagascar are thinking about how their communities can become more resilient with discussions as a Church and training from the government. Are we aware of the challenges that our communities will face in light of climate change? How might we prepare ourselves and our wider communities?

What does this mean when we consider our global family?

Application:

Like Joseph, there is still time to prepare ourselves against the greatest impacts of climate change. The most recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we have 12 years to limit catastrophic climate change, but we need to start acting now. Think about how you can start preparing in your own home, church or community. Is there any additional knowledge of training that might be helpful for you? How can you get this support?

There are many organisations that can guide you through making changes. Share any helpful links with each other. There are lots of links available through the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland link: https://ctbi.org.uk/environment-links

Prayer:

From the Anglican Church in Southern Africa5

God the Creator has blessed you with all that you need in this life.

Go into the world with courage that you might be the channels through which the Lord can bring relief to others and the blessing of the Creator God, the Eternal Father, the Risen Son and the Promised Holy Spirit bless you that you might be a blessing to others today and always.

Amen

 

Week 5: A view from Britain and Ireland

 

Introduction: This week we will be looking issues of justice relating to our ecological and climate crisis

Opening Reflection: Those that are most vulnerable to climate change are the least culpable for its causes. Share how this makes you feel.

World Church Perspective: Read ‘A View from Britain and Ireland’ (Faith in a Changing Climate pg18-19)

Questions:

What interested or surprised you about the experience or response of the Church in Britain and Ireland (included in what you read or from your own knowledge) to creation and climate change?

Share any similarities or differences to the ways in which you know the church is responding – at home or around the world.

Bible Reading: Luke 10: 25-37 (NIV)

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[a] “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[b] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Questions:

Who is our neighbour?

Can we see the earth as a kind of neighbour? Is the earth also “wounded by the roadside”?

The road going down from Jerusalem to Jericho was renowned for being dangerous. “We’ve been caught up with binding the wounds of the man on the road. But have we considered transforming the Jericho road so it is no longer dangerous?” (The Revd John Rogers). What does this look like when we consider our ecological and climate crisis?

When we consider movements in the UK like the Student Climate Strikes and Extinction Rebellion how far are we willing to go to be good neighbours?

Application:

Do you ensure that your elected representative (MPs and local councils) are taking matters of climate change seriously? Make sure your voice is heard. USPG and Hope for the Future can accompany you as you do this (see Faith in a Changing Climate booklet)

We all have our own part to play in caring for creation, but we also need to keep pushing each other to be more ambitious. What is the one thing that you can change starting today? Pledge this to a friend or family member to keep you accountable. What is the next step after that? Review your pledges and keep making them more ambitious.

Prayer:

Joy in Enough Confession from our friends at Green Christian (https://joyinenough.org/)

Our climate is changing, and we are changing it. We confess our carbon footprints, our failure to consider the consequences of our actions, our slowness to react. We are sorry for all the times we knew the right thing to do, but chose convenience.

Your earth is exploited, and we are complicit in its exploitation. Species are lost, soil erodes, fish stocks decline, resources dwindle. We confess that many of us have taken too much, and not considered the needs of future generations.

We have become consumers. We have turned a blind eye to greed. We confess our hunger for more, and our failure to appreciate what we already have. We live in a time of unparalleled luxury, and we are sorry that we have not been more grateful.

 

The poor are left behind, even in this age of plenty. Human rights are pushed aside for profit. Wealth accumulates for the rich while the poorest still do not have what they need. We confess our apathy to injustice, and our haste in judging others.

This is not who you made us to be. We have not been good caretakers of your garden Earth. We have not loved our neighbours. Forgive us, creator God.

Forgive us. Renew us. Inspire us.

And in your strength, God, we declare:

Enough climate change: help us to take responsibility. Give us the wisdom to live appropriately, the urgency to act, and the courage to make changes. Give us the voice to call for change from our leaders, and the perseverance to keep asking.

Enough consumerism: give us what we need, God our provider. Then help us to find satisfaction and contentment. Help us to be grateful and generous.

Enough inequality: nobody should be left behind. You care for the poor, and we want to follow your example. Make your church a living example of equity and inclusion, and a powerful advocate for justice and sharing.

We thank you for your kindness and your mercy. We look to your promise of restoration, and we move forward. Give us the strength to speak and to act – not out of guilt or duty, for we are forgiven and we are loved. Instead, we speak and act out of joy:

joy in the living hope of knowing you

joy in serving each other

joy in the beauty and diversity of creation, your gift to us

joy in your provision and your care – joy in enough