Chris Keppie, Exeter Diocesan Environment Officer, reports on the launch of #LiveLent at Lambeth Palace this week; and encourages all to order, read individually or in groups, and share any actions.
#LiveLent: Care for God’s Creation is the Church of England’s Lent Campaign for 2020. With weekly themes shaped around the first Genesis account of creation, it explores the urgent need for humans to value and protect the abundance God has created. This year’s #LiveLent challenge offers weekly themes and prayers, and 40 short reflections and suggested actions to help you, your family and your church live in greater love and harmony with God, neighbour and nature.
#LiveLent booklets (for both adults and children) and app, the associated Lent Book, and publicity materials are all available here: churchofengland.org/livelent.
Speaking at the Lambeth Palace launch on Tuesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave some context:
“COP26 [the UN climate conference in Glasgow this November] is a unique opportunity for the future of this planet… By providence, we have the Lambeth Conference this summer, with 655 bishops coming from 160 countries, most of which are affected – in ways that threaten life – by climate change. Today, not in 50 years, today, and without the resources to defend themselves from that… Climate change is causing war, inter-ethnic violence, food shortages… and is in every way a current catastrophe.
“This Lent is a huge opportunity…to review things that are wrong in our lifestyle and living with God, the God who made all things…and who this Lent we will travel with, living out our relationship of love with both God the Creator and God’s creation”.
And this from a panellist and preacher at the launch:
“Freshwater fish species numbers have seen an 83% decline since 1970. In the last fifty years, eight of every ten freshwater species has been wiped out! Could you stop for moment to allow that figure to sink in and consider how this relates to our faith in a God who made this world to be teeming with life?”
That figure did indeed make me put down Saying Yes To Life, the extraordinary new Lent Book by Dr Ruth Valerio commissioned by Archbishop Justin, and on the same theme as the Lent campaign for the first time.
Saying Yes To Life itself teems with life, each chapter structured around a Day of Creation as she relates themes of light, water, land, the seasons, other creatures, humankind, Sabbath rest and resurrection hope to matters of environmental, ethical and social concern. As ‘Global Advocacy and Influencing Director’ at Tearfund, it’s no surprise that Ruth includes powerful scriptural exegesis of these ‘Days’; delight and awe at the wonder of life in all its variety; ecological and climate science presented authoritatively and accessibly; humorous personal stories; international perspectives of poverty, inequity and positive developments and possibilities; and crucially, urgent exhortations for us all to Act.
Action runs throughout, with reflection questions at the end of each chapter for church house groups or individuals to use throughout Lent. Page 20f summarises these as:
- Learning (the book has an excellent online accompaniment at spckpublishing.co.uk/saying-yes-resources)
- Personal action (eating habits, travel, renewable and reduced energy use etc)
- Church action (prayers, sermons; carbon audits, procurement and installation of renewable energy; tree planting; EcoChurch initiatives etc)
- Holding our governments to account
- Giving to charities who help communities to adapt and mitigate
This section ends with the thought of a leading international atmospheric scientist and Christian:
“For Christians, doing something about climate change is about living out our faith – caring for those who need help, our neighbours here at home or on the other side of the world, and taking responsibility for this planet that God created and entrusted to us… And that is a very freeing thought: I don’t have to change the world all by myself, I just need to partner in the work God wants us to do”.
So… You can…
- buy Saying Yes To Life (and access its exceptional online resources for free, including a pdf of the ‘Course Notes’ plan for church leaders or house groups, kindly shared from Bristol diocese)
- order the shorter and beautifully attractive booklets for both adults and kids (with the 40 daily reflections and challenges)
- sign up to the new #LiveLent app or email list
- and download a promotional poster…
…all here: churchofengland.org/livelent
Please do so! We’d be delighted to share any forthcoming events (special services, beach cleans, tree planting, EcoChurch meetings?), and later photos or feedback of what you’ve done (church/house group series? switch to renewable energy? pledges to eat or travel more sustainably?) Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, don’t forget The Big Green Event at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 22nd February, the Saturday before Lent starts to get you in the mood! It’s a brilliant line up of workshops, and led by +Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury and national lead Bishop for the environment. Please see The Big Green Event on Eventbrite for all the details and to book (there are still places). Hope to see you there!