Whatever the extent of our scientific knowledge, God’s creation is still a mystery and is accessible to us only through admiration of its creatures and worship of God. The earth is the Lord’s and is sacred, and we are stewards of it. That task remains ours today as our faith opens us to the encounter with the immensity and diversity of the living and cosmic world around us.
What is new to most of us is that the greenhouse effect and climate change have come as a dramatic surprise, showing that the universal equilibria of which we had no precise idea have been upset. More than ever science is reflecting on the limits of its grasp; it seeks to understand better what it does not know and cannot know. The mystery of Creation and the limits of our knowledge call for caution, and the principle of taking precautions is fundamental in our relations with the environment.
Being part of a global consciousness that aims to rebuild our relationships with one another and with the environment that sustains us, is a major theme of life in Wales today and one in which the Church is fully engaged.
The meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in 2006 voted that, “because of its belief that humankind has been given by God special responsibility for good stewardship over the Earth” it would:
- support measures designed to produce efficient, equitable and sustainable use of the planet’s resources;
- welcome the Wales Assembly Government’s publication of a new environmental strategy for Wales;
- urge the Wales Assembly Government to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to implement the Environmental Strategy Action Plan;
- urge the Wales Assembly Government to continue to promote and integrate sustainable development in all the strategies and initiatives;
- urge the United Kingdom Government to take further measures to reduce the CO2 emissions of the United Kingdom.
This followed a motion at an earlier meeting that committed the Church in Wales to:
- make a stand for sustainable development by, for example, using recycled paper for publications
Jesus of Nazareth would have spent his boyhood surrounded by natural beauty and he included references to the natural world in his teaching. On one occasion he urged his listeners to ‘consider the lilies of the field, how they grow’. Such examples from nature no doubt came readily to mind. ‘A sower went out to sow’, the beginning of the parable of the sower, was based on his observation of the practices of first century farmers.
Today, the Church in Wales is in close touch with the agricultural community of our country. Death and resurrection, major themes in the Christian message, are replicated on the seasonal landscape through which we pass on our earthly pilgrimage.
In developing and growing our economy and communities the need to live at peace with our neighbour is paramount. Fairness in the sharing of resources is part of the Christian perspective, and this is why the Church in Wales is one of the members of the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY coalition. Loving one’s neighbour as oneself, one of the injunctions of Jesus, is never easy if it involves sacrifice and self-denial.
The Holy Spirit, the presence of God in our midst, is a restless presence that seeks to bring change. To change swords into ploughshares, to change strangers into friends, to bring understanding and acceptance where there is prejudice and bigotry is the purpose of God and it is the task of the Church to keep watch and follow the way the Spirit is moving.