The devastating consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak are before our very eyes, every day, in person, if you work on the frontline, at home in the uncertainty and anxiety of our family and friends, on the 24 hour news cycle, that we access through our media outlets and devices.
We grieve the loss of life, loss of income, loss of social connection.
We lament the inequities in our world, where not everyone has the opportunity to wash their hands in clean water, or to socially distance, as they cope with crowded shelters and inadequate health care.
We are joining together in global cooperation, and in Australia across our nation to stem the spread of this virus, and to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
The level of cooperation, and the concerted effort of our government to act, is something to be applauded.
Our health professionals have led us through this crisis with guidance based on scientific evidence and compassionate care for those impacted.
We’ve seen strong bipartisan cooperation from political leaders, businesses and unions, and responsible actions by the vast majority of residents.
We have supported each other. We have seen what can be achieved in a very short space of time to address a crisis that threatens us all.
We have another crisis that we need to face together – the crisis that our whole creation is groaning under the impacts of climate change, pollution, and degradation of our ecosystems.
Emerging from the COVID crisis – what will we do?
Some have talked about what will be the “new normal” on the other side of this pandemic.
This is a time for us as the Uniting Church to be asking: What do we want our common life to be?
As followers of Jesus, what are the values and practices we want to embrace and maintain?
How will we bear witness to God’s vision of the reconciliation and renewal of the whole creation?
Our young people, the students who have organised this global climate strike are urging us to take action – to prioritise what is important for now and into our future.
What our young people are calling for is a world, where our common life includes care for the earth, which we all share, a recognition, that creation is not there simply for our use and abuse, but the creatures of the earth, the plants, and the land itself, need to be respected, and recognised.
We need to live in a sustainable way, using renewable sources of energy, recycling, reducing waste, and having sustainable manufacturing and agricultural practices, so that there is a future for our earth.
We need our Government to set in place strategies to ensure that all communities are able to transition into the new low carbon world for the sake of the whole planet.
As the Uniting Church, as followers of Jesus, let us join together with young people calling for action to address climate change and renew and protect the life of our planet.
Let us join together with other religious communities, and all those organisations and concerned citizens of our world, to move toward sustainable and non-exploitative living, embracing a relationship of mutuality and respectful interdependence with the whole creation.
A PRAYER FOR THE EARTH
We give you thanks for your beautiful creation.
We give you thanks for the intricate web of life that weaves us together.
Christ, our Redeemer, forgive us when we exploit and degrade the earth.
Forgive us when we consume more than we need,
Forgive us when we greedily use the earth’s resources, while others are living in poverty and lack the basic necessities of life.
Renew your vision within us of a world in which we love our neighbours, share equitably all the gifts of the earth, and live in harmony with all creation.
Holy Spirit, Life giver,
Comfort us in this time of distress and uncertainty.
Sustain us with the hope of reconciliation and the renewal of the whole earth. Amen.