What is a merciful heart?
A heart aflame for all of creation, for men, birds, beasts, demons, and every created thing;
the very thought or sight of them causes the merciful man’s eyes to overflow with tears.
St. Isaac the Syrian
As we continue to move through the Season of Creation, it is worth remembering that while this is a new season to us, we are joining a larger movement that has been going on for some time. Below I share the introduction from the World Council of Churches to this year’s global theme, “Let Peace and Justice Flow.” For more, you can watch the introductory video.
The world humans have known, enjoyed and celebrated is changing rapidly beyond repair. Biodiversity is being lost at a rate not seen since the last mass extinction. The hope of keeping average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius is fading. The futures of young people are threatened by the cascading impacts of the loss of biodiversity and a changing climate. Industrialization, colonization and the extraction and consumption of resources have created great wealth, unequally distributed. We are presently more aware than ever of the link between fossil fuels, and violence and war.
The urgency grows and we must make visible peace with Earth and on Earth, at the same time that justice calls us to repentance and a change of attitude and actions. Instead of despair, hope can be created if we work together as the People of God. By the Creator’s infinite love and mercy, streams can rise in the desert. An economy of peace can be built instead of an economy based on conflict. Our prayers, sermons and liturgies must call for justice not only for humans but for all Creation. Justice, allied with peace, calls us to repent of our ecological sins and to change our attitudes and actions. Righteousness demands that we live in peace, not conflict with our human neighbors, and building right relationships with all of Creation. Our individual actions during the Season of Creation are important. We must also recognize that, for a mighty movement of justice, individual actions are not enough. Justice also includes paying historic debts.
At a global level, nations with power and wealth have a duty to deal justly and honestly with communities that suffer most from the climate and ecological crises. Global South nations, working together for more than 30 years, have just managed to win a victory at COP27 in making wealthier nations realize their moral duty to provide for financing for loss and damage. The recent decisions at COP15 to preserve biodiversity are also hopeful and required similar perseverance. These victories have been achieved by those with less power working together. Together we can be a mighty river of justice and peace, that brings new life to Earth and future generations, a river that can move the mountains of injustice.
As an ecumenical family, we can engage in these actions and contribute to ensure that the web of life is preserved and cared for. Through prayer, practical advocacy and sustainable actions, this 2023 Season of Creation can prophetically renew our ecumenical unity and care for our common home. May we journey together in communion as the people of God to let justice and peace flow!