|Pen and Ink Reflections||
What value does the book of Revelation have for us, especially in the face of ecological crises? My guess is that most of us have not spent too much time on the Bible’s last book. Some people of course have, including those looking for a special secret code to life and history, and those puzzling out different timetables for Christ’s second coming. Such interpreters however typically have little concern for ecology, and some even welcome signs of environmental apocalypse. Faced by the strangeness of John the Divine’s visions, we may therefore be tempted to dispense with the book altogether. Yet that would be a mistake. For, as this morning’s reading (ch.12 vv. 1-9 & 13-17a) illustrates, truth and light can be received in the strangest places…
In his tender and tantalising work Anam Cara, John O’Donohue wrote that:
“the way you look at things is the most powerful force in shaping your life.”
I want to talk about three ways of looking at things suggested by our readings today – the microscopic that allows us to appreciate our own smallness and uniqueness; the telescopic that invites us to move imaginatively towards universes beyond this one; and the cosmic that calls us to a bigger story. For story is critical and it is only through story that we shall be able to effect the extraordinary changes required by our current ecological crisis...
‘Let justice flow like a river’ is the central theme of this year’s global ecumenical Season of Creation. This phrase comes from the book of Amos, chapter 5, part of which we heard just now. Let us hear how this speaks powerfully today and why people of faith are called to work and pray together….
(Watch the Laudato Sí Movement’s ‘Prepare for Season of Creation 2023’ video here...)
When you step out of your door in the morning, do you feel that you are stepping into a world of wonder in which you are intimately connected? Or, are you simply stepping into mere location? Is it just dead space which you are crossing so that you can get to where you need to go? Or, do you believe you are walking into a living universe? Those are questions which the great spiritual writer John O’Donohue used to ask and they lie right at the heart of the Season of Creation we have just begun this month. For it matters vitally how we view the world and where we locate God in relation to it. So much of our politics, our business and trade activities, and our lifestyles, are affected. If we believe that matter, material existence, doesn’t really matter to God, then we will end up acting in problematic ways. Or, as John O’Donohue used to say, if we do believe that when we step out we are walking into a living universe, then our walk ‘becomes a different thing’. So let us explore some of the theological paths which can underpin more loving and sustainable ways of living together on the Earth…
‘So long and thanks for all the fish!’ – that is the message of the dolphins as the world ends, in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. In contrast, the new creation in today’s Resurrection story (Luke 24:36b-48) begins with fish. The terrified disciples think they have seen a ghost. Yet, even more startlingly, Jesus asks for something to eat. They give him what they have – some broiled fish – and Jesus takes it and eats it in their presence. Not for the first time, God and fish are all mixed up together. What is going on?...
It is so shockingly physical, isn’t it? As we reflected last week, the resurrection is profoundly, and intimately, about bodies. These bodies however are not just human but of all kinds. Even fish bodies. Imagine. Imagine the sounds of the crackling fire, and the sight and feel of the fish, and not least its smell and taste. It is deeply visceral, isn’t it? And it is so evocative of all the other times in which Jesus has been with others, with fish as central: and not least all those fishing trips, and feeding of the thousands. We are used to thinking of sacraments as visible signs and vehicles of God’s grace and presence. We think, not least of bread and wine, water and light. However fish are also key: creatures in many cultures as vital as bread and wine for sustenance and survival; fluid seekers and expressions of water and light...