The theme for the 2020 Season of Creation, Jubilee for the Earth, New Rhythms, New Hope, is especially apt for this time. Life as we know it has been turned upside down over the last several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world responded with urgency. Everything shut down, schools, business and, in an unprecedented move, church buildings.
This was unsettling for many people. The church has always been seen as a place of sanctuary. Even in countries where, due to high levels of crime, the doors have to be locked at certain hours, one has always been able to ring a bell and enter these places of worship and sanctuary.
One of the underlying lessons of this pandemic, something that we have all learned, is the importance of human connection and physical touch. The absence of this fundamental human need has been sorely felt and has impacted the mental health of individuals as well as communities.
Another lesson, one that we should all already be aware of, is that the world is technologically interconnected. We rallied and found ways of coming together by using technology. We attended church and prayer services via Zoom, via Facebook and YouTube; we formed communities in all the online spaces, finding new ways of coming together to pray and to worship. The church, being the people of God, remained open thanks to technology.
Yes, the world, and her people responded with urgency to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have been far less urgent in our response to the cry of the earth. The interconnectedness of the earth goes far beyond technology.
We enjoyed a brief period of regeneration as the world shut down. Clearer air, cleaner water, less pollution all around, but as the world returns to what is being described as a “new normal” we need to re-evaluate what we want normal to look like.
We are at a pivotal moment in human history. Decisions made now can take us either way. We have the opportunity to turn a corner and move toward a more just society, one in which we take care of the earth and of one another. The alternative is dire.
Our disregard for our common home affects the poor and disenfranchised most of all. We cannot claim to care about humanity without caring for the earth. Fighting for the injustices toward our fellow human beings, by necessity requires that we fight against environmental injustice.
If we have learned anything through this pandemic, it is that we need one another. Let us not lose sight of that. Justice and sustainability are inextricably linked. Let us come together, continue to connect, and find ways toward sustainable and just living.