Christmas – a time to follow Jesus

Guest post magazine article by Green Christian member, Edward Gildea

Gentile da Fabriano

The birth of Jesus was the beginning of a lifetime devoted to deep, radical change in society.

Whether you are inspired by the lines of the Magnificat to “scatter the proud in the imagination of their hearts”, or the lines of the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth,” Christmas must be the time when we renew our resolve to ensure that “God’s will is done on Earth as it is in heaven”.

But as we look around the Earth, it seems that we couldn’t be further removed from heaven. We despair at the wars in Ukraine or Palestine, the widening gap between rich and poor, the self-interest and corruption of politicians here and around the world, the global economy that thrives on driving down the wages and human rights of its workers and the climate crisis which is destroying the lives of those who have contributed least to the problem.

David Attenborough’s Planet Earth 3 series showed vividly the precarious state of ecologies that have taken millions of years to evolve.

We seem to be digging deep holes for ourselves with no attempt to extricate ourselves from them. Indeed, the profit motive seems to be urging us to dig deeper!

Christmas itself has been taken hostage by consumerism, brightly lit and adorned with fairy lights, and we are swept along with it. We want to indulge ourselves in the depths of winter – that was what the pagan festival was about – and when we are urged to resist consumerism and perhaps “A toilet for Christmas”, that alone wouldn’t have given rise to very much festive cheer!

We want to enjoy the company of those we love while holding in our prayers those who are grieving, lonely, sick, homeless and whose lives are in peril, but perhaps now is also the time to consider the need for transformational change and resistance to the system that is destroying life on earth.

When Jesus overturned the tables of the money lenders saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves,” I am tempted to expand that to consider how God’s creation has been mortgaged by the profit motive of those with vast interests, vested in maximising the exploitation and pollution of the planet.

A recent projection by TIME Science is that we will reach the critical climate threshold of 1.5 degrees in early 2029. “Beyond that the risks of catastrophes increase… a key ice sheet could kick into irreversible melt, and water shortages, heat waves and death from extreme weather dramatically increase, according to an earlier United Nations scientific report.”

But we are still burning 40 million metric tonnes of carbon a year, with a view to levelling out only when it is too late. What is driving this suicidal behaviour? I can only think it comes down to the greed of those who are already multi-millionaires and billionaires, who believe their wealth will protect them from the calamity.

They are wrong, of course. Soon after crossing the threshold when feedback loops have moved beyond our control, insurance companies will be able to insure less and less, until a point is reached when nothing is insurable and the whole global economy grinds to a halt.

It is time to think deeply about our economy and how it can be made to work better. How can it value Nature adequately? How can it measure and incorporate Justice, Health and Happiness? How can the greed that exploits off-shore banking, tax evasion, shell companies be replaced by love for our neighbours?

The Open Bible lists 100 verses relating to Christs’ exhortation to “give up everything to follow me”. It is a challenge that makes most of us feel uncomfortable, but maybe within those verses is the sort of economic system that could save humanity.

May your Advent and Christmas season be full of the happiness and joy that comes from working with God to bring about the earthing of heaven.

Edward Gildea

Edward Gildea writes magazine articles for his local church, St Mary’s, Saffron Walden in north west Essex, each month. He has kindly given permission to anyone to re-edit for your own parish newsletters. Please credit him and his church website.

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Author: Ruth Jarman | Date: 4 November, 2023 | Category: Church Magazine Climate Emergency | Comments: 0

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