Recently my teenage son was doing some research on endangered species for school. He was shocked at his findings, not just that many species are even more endangered than 10 years ago, but that several species in that time have become extinct. He came into our kitchen where I was preparing supper and with tears in his eyes tried to express how he felt, particularly about the Western Black Rhino, a subspecies that is no more. He could barely get the words out, and was incoherent with rage and grief.
For a brief moment I nearly slipped into Mummy mode. You know, the glib sayings that trip lightly off our tongues when comforting children or others who are upset: ‘Never mind… It’ll all be all right.’ Just in time I stopped myself. We’re right to mind. It isn’t all right. It never will be all right. And we do mind.
It’s appalling, the current rate of extinction. Whole species have disappeared, very recently. People often refer to the dodo or dinosaurs when considering extinction, but human activity is right now creating havoc in the natural world. We have lost over 50% of the populations of all animals in the last 40 years – in other words there is less than half the number of animals on the planet than there were when I was a child.
In the kitchen that evening all I could do is say ‘I know,’ and ‘Yes, it is terrible,’ and ‘I don’t know what to do, either.’ We looked at each other with tears in our eyes, and there was no comfort, except the acknowledgment that it is all right to grieve. In fact, it’s more than all right to grieve, it is the only proper response.
But we can’t just leave it there. If we are grieving for the state of our planet, then our Creator and Redeemer is grieving even more. But see what I did there? God is our Creator and our Redeemer. As God’s co-workers we need to act with God to bring redemption and hope to the world. This has traditionally been understood as purely about church and humans, but in Green Christian we believe that God is just as concerned with the integrity of creation. God asks us to protect and care for the whole of creation, a wonderful creation that was created in love, not just human beings.
And there lies hope. We are not alone in this work. Co-workers with God, we can and should ask God for guidance and help in our mission of Creation Care. And let’s be bold in spreading this gospel message, for the gospel is good news for all creation. We can’t save the dodo or the Western Black Rhino or the passenger pigeon or many other species which have already gone, but we can work together and with others (Christians and not) for the good of all creation, human and more-than-human, standing against oppression, injustice, exploitation, pollution, and greed.