by Janette McIntosh, walking with Earthkeeepers
We are at the start of the season of Advent: Hope. Yes, this time is filled with hope, as world leaders are together in Paris for the COP21 Climate Change conference and as over five thousand people of all walks of life – ages and backgrounds, came together to walk and dance down the streets of Vancouver in solidarity with others around the world for climate action. Hope, not to be mistaken with a wish or desire, is interpreted biblically as “a strong and confident expectation”. We tend to look ahead to what is possible and what may result, but hope as a verb is actively engaged in the now. We are living hope.
What hope? You may ask…as we sometimes feel helpless to do anything about the way we abuse the soil, the animals, the air and the ocean; or we notice our human spirit fall into complacency or despair in not finding any way toward a new vision for relating to the natural world. Hope is in people of all cultures, creeds, and colours coming together for climate justice. Hope is in the understanding of our interdependence and interconnectedness with all living creatures. Hope is also in knowing that God is dynamic and deeply interactive with all of creation. This is no God who separated Godself from creation, to observe and wait.
God is none other than reality itself, experienced as a nurturing love that nudges us toward novelty, creativity, and adventures for the sake of love. God’s reality as a deeply relational reality, is an attempt to free us from the forces of separation which has caused destruction not only to the non-human world, but to fellow human beings as well. By transcending our human-centeredness we can see that what is good for creation is good for God.
Hope is also in our ability to continuously learn. It was John Cobb Jr. in his writings on process theology that made me aware of the direct correlation between the reality we attribute to God, and the reality we attribute to nature. Process theology is concerned with challenging, critiquing and changing inherited patterns of thought which have caused humans to separate themselves from nature, and thereby cause themselves to lose a sense of interconnectedness in all living things.
Cobb reminds us that hope is not the assurance of a happy outcome, but rather an attitude toward life, grounded in the biblical witness, whose final answer to life is in the form of a simple word “yes”. He helps us to see God as a reality that works creatively within and around us. Hope, for Cobb, is confidence in the way reality works toward God’s initial aim – which is nothing other than love. Live hoping! Amen
Cobb, John B. Jr. Is it too late?: A Theology of Ecology Revised Edition, pp.11-15, 1995
Cobb, John Jr. “Christian Theism and the Ecological Crisis” in Religious Education, 66, Ja-F, p.31-35, 1971