During the weekend after Easter, our congregation hosted the Spring meeting of Kootenay Presbytery. Attending that meeting, along with presbyters was the Moderator of the United Church of Canada, Mardi Tindal. Every moderator of the United Church has a passion for the church which they offer during their term as moderator. Mardi Tindal’s passion is “ecotheology” (the relationship of God and Creation) which she describes as Community, Soul and Creation. She has travelled widely throughout our country sharing her commitment for ecological healing with congregations large and small, offering hopeful action-oriented messages, and listening to the joys and concerns of Congregations, Presbyteries and Conferences.
Moderator Mardi has also travelled extensively to other countries in her capacity as the national spokesperson for the United Church of Canada. The current issue of the United Church Observer notes, “United Church Moderator Mardi Tindal reports that when she attends international climate conferences, secular scientists often approach her for a quiet word. They say, ‘We are counting on you, because you speak to people’s hearts and souls.’ Logic and reason have not motivated the changes [in society] that are necessary,’ Tindal says. ‘Everything begins in the soul.’ ” (Observer, June 2012, p.28)
While in Kimberley, Mardi gave our congregation the gift of two packages of Black-eyed Susan seeds. The seed package reads, “Celebrate Creation: To mark Earth Day 2012, Moderator Mardi Tindal invites you to plant this gift of wildflower seeds as a reminder of God’s abundant love and healing.” Earth Day was the Sunday following the Spring Presbytery Meeting and during worship Eileen Dean planted some of the seeds with children in our congregation. Today, on this Church Picnic Sunday, when we celebrate our community of faith in God’s Creation we’ll share the rest of the seeds with anyone who’d like to take them home and plant them as a reminder of the seeds of hope we plant in our world as a community of faith.
While she was here, Mardi also mentioned that she had attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November 2011 with Canadian journalist and author, Alanna Mitchell. Mardi highly recommended Alanna’s book, Sea Sick, which is the product of two and half years of research on the effects of climate change on the health of the oceans of the world. I was later surprised, and delighted, to discover that Alanna Mitchell was the theme presenter at the BC Conference General Meeting I attended a couple of weeks ago.
At BC Conference, I quickly discovered that Alanna Mitchell is not only a thorough and dedicated researcher and journalist, she is a person of deep faith who is a member of Eastminster United Church in Toronto. She is also a courageous and engaging speaker who spoke compellingly about the destruction of many land and marine species and the devastating effects of climate change on the health of the oceans of the world. Much of the information she shared with us was discouraging but I was heartened by her depth of hope and conviction that it is not too late to make changes that will heal our planet and provide for generations of human, plant and animal species of all kinds in the future.
In her presentations, Alanna related stories of wonder, awe and reverence that she experienced in her journeys to Antarctica, the Amazon rainforests, the Arctic, Madagascar, the Galapagos and many other places in the world. She gave us hard scientific facts about what is happening to the ecosystems in these places and she encouraged us to lament, forgive, and to take positive action for change that will make a difference. Alanna also shared her personal journey of learning about the ecological situations in the world, her period of deep despair and depression and her renewed and ongoing passion and hope for God’s Creation. The bottom line of her message is that, “We live in important and exciting times. We have to choose hope against logic. We need to forgive ourselves, and each other, for what we have unwittingly done to our planet. The end of the story is not written yet. And, like laughter, hope catches and spreads.”
Along with these words of encouragement and hope I offer a blessing for ourselves and God’s Creation:
This we know, the Earth does not belong to us,
we belong to the Earth.
This we know, all things are connected,
like the life that unites one family.
This we know, we did not weave the web of life,
we are merely a strand in it.
This we know, whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves.
Let us give thanks for the gift of God’s Creation.
Let us give thanks that all things are bound together
in the love of God that we experience in the ministry of Christ.