“Houston, we have a problem!”
Well, it’s more like: “Edinburgh, we have a problem.”
And we do. But the problem is not the rubbish we encounter everywhere right now. The problem is that we take a lot of our service providers for granted – and overlook them. We might clap for the NHS, but are we willing to pay decent wages for our nurses and hospital cleaning staff? Rubbish collectors have taken away our refuse even during the pandemic – sometime exposing themselves to the virus without clinical protective gear. We did not clap for them. And we do not listen to them as the ask for fair wages in the midst of an economic crisis that will leave many of them impoverished. We might not like the way our city looks (I most definitely do not!), but what other ways do rubbish collectors have to make their voice heard while most of us are busy spending access income on comedy shows, festival tickets, and travelling?
I do not believe classical Marxism works and I find its incarnations dangerous and often vile. I also believe that the early Christian community described in Acts (see Acts 2:44 & 4:32), when the followers of Christ held every possession in common, is an unworkable utopia in our days. And yet, these verses and others do point to the responsibility we have for one another – within the church and beyond. Justice is not just an add-on, it is a biblical imperative that requires us to speak up, speak out, and act accordingly. Therefore: How can we support those threatened by inflation and soaring energy prices? What will our role be this winter? And how can we advocate for those left behind both here in the UK and elsewhere?
But there is another component to the strike.
I knew we had a problem with waste and that we were addicted to plastics. But the strike of the rubbish collectors makes it clear: It’s not just “Edinburgh, we have a problem!” – it’s the global community that has a problem. We really have created an environmental crisis that I suspect most of us cannot quite get our heads around.
Now, we could all get despondent and depressed. But ours is a faith of hope, a hope that does not give up even when there seems to be no way out of the darkness. We believe that in Christ the night has been pierced, even when the night seems to swallow us whole.
This is why once a year, we enter the season of Creationtide in the month of September. It is an opportunity to thank God for the beauty of creation and to acknowledge God as the source of all that is, that was, and that will be. And it is a time to reflect on our interaction with creation and on the interconnectedness of all life, human and non-human. Out of this, hopefully, will come 1) a deeper sense of wanting to “ascribe to the Lord the glory due God’s name” (Psalm 29:2), 2) a deeper understanding of our place in creation, and 3) a willingness to be good stewards of creation, to advocates for life in its diversity, and to live our lives in ways that are sustainable for the entire biosphere. Worship – Reflection – Action. It is a good tripod onto which to place ministry and mission, not just in Creationtide…
One way to act in accordance with our call to be creation’s caretakers is to think about and adjust how we feed our bodies. This is why this year’s Creationtide focus will be on food. The sermons in September will focus on food. I have replaced the first readings of the Lectionary with appropriate Bible passages. Our music will once again reflect the season. And the eco-justice groups of the three Together Churches (St Andrew’s & St George’s West, St Cuthbert’s, and St John’s) have prepared some input, which I can highly recommend [details to follow].
We might have a problem indeed. But we also have the resources to solve it.