As Western consumer capitalists, it is difficult for us to feel intimately connected with each other, let alone the wider creation. Ancient schools of philosophy have taught us to think of ourselves as separate beings distinct from the created order; and dominant agricultural and economic models distance us from the rest of the natural world. Thus our industries tend towards extracting, reducing and damaging, rather than sustaining and improving, the atmosphere, the biosphere and the hydrosphere.
Yet this is so clearly foolish. Our bodies do not exist outside of creation, and any concept of health which does not take account of this is deeply, irremediably, destructively flawed. We cannot breathe, eat or drink without relying on clean air, good soil and unpolluted water. We are intimately, profoundly part of creation in every possible way, and to deny this is to live a fractured existence.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that not only were all things (not just ‘people’) created by and for Christ, but that in him all things hold together, and through him all things on heaven and earth are reconciled (Colossians 1:15-20). So salvation, health, wholeness (the words are interchangeable) means recognising our interdependence with the wider creation, rather than continuing this fractured existence; and living in ways which honour, cherish and are informed by the earth around us.
Of course, this means questioning everything: the nature of work and community; our economic structures; what we teach our children; how we build our homes; what we eat, drink, buy and throw away; how we understand and experience re-creation; what we mean by ‘land’, ‘wilderness’, ‘belonging’; and so much more: we have a great deal of thinking, learning, praying and healing to do.
Lent begins tomorrow, and we are looking at healing of bodies, minds and spirits; of relationships with people; and of our relationship with the wider creation. Attenders will have received a book of stories and reflective questions, one for each day of Lent; and you can also read them each day on our website.
When Jesus encountered a man who had been paralysed for many years, he asked, “Do you want to be made whole?” (John 5:1-9). It might have been easier for that man to stay the way he was: diminished, dependent, without responsibilities, and limited in his participation in the life going on around him. But something in him responded to the invitation: life beckoned, and he said, “Yes!”
Like this man, with fear and trepidation, let us also answer Jesus with a deep, if trembling, “Yes!” Let us allow him to take us further on the journey which heals us of all that harms us, as he shapes us ever more deeply into the image of the One who reconciles all creation, and asks us to participate in this healing work.
> Our Lenten series is introduced more fully here. And don’t forget to come back tomorrow, and every day of Lent, for a Bible reading, a story, and some reflective questions to spur you on your healing journey.
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