At Carol Services over the coming days, we will hear the beginning of John’s Gospel reminding us that the word became flesh and dwelt among us. A literal translation of that verse reads that ‘the Word pitched his tent among us’. It’s an image of God in Jesus Christ dwelling with men, women and children in creation, the ropes of the tent stretching out over the earth with pegs placed securely in the soil of our world.
A week ago, Cate Williams wrote on the deep reality of the nature crisis that is wounding the biodiversity of our world and how, as disciples of Christ, we might begin to respond. You can read what she wrote here. As we begin our Christmas celebrations, we are given, should we need it, another reminder of why it is so important that we respond. As God pitches his tent in the soil of the earth, we see plainly that this planet is not just our home, it is not even ‘just’ the place that God has created, but it is also the place where, in Jesus Christ, God comes to dwell. What we do to safeguard the soil of the earth can thus never be just about our own preservation, or even ensuring the future of our children and generations to come, though these are both good reasons to care for our environment, but it is divine imperative, the stewardship of the place where we live with God and where God lives with us.
The Psalmist reminds us ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it …’ that God ‘founded it on the seas and established it on the waters’ (Psalm 24) and our Christmas celebrations remind us that this is the place where God comes to dwell. This is a message that demands of us a response, not from fear or anxiety but from delight and wonder in the gift we have been given and the one who shares it with us.
I wonder if part of that response might be to give a gift in return, an hour each week to care for the earth. You can find out more about how to do this, and how to bring peace to the earth, by visiting Eco Church in an Hour. That would indeed be a Christmas blessing.