“How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24 (NIV version)
Psalm 104 considers the beauty of creation and the richness of biodiversity within it. The vast number of species of plants and animals, fungi and microorganisms that make up our natural world, whether in our gardens, the roadside, parks, the rainforests, or desert. We are part of biodiversity. Not separate from it.
The Church is rather like the biodiversity of our planet: we work together to maintain balance and to support life. Our church is our community. When it works it’s a place of friendship, family, a safety net to some. We show one another respect. We learn together. We’re connected.
Psalm 104 teaches us to take the time to value what God has made. In taking time to observe creation, we learn a new, wise pedagogy. Quieting our minds, listening, observing, smelling, tasting and feeling our environment helps us to think beyond ourselves – and gain a glimpse of God’s encompassing love. The gift of creation (and our church family) should not be taken for granted. Through loving and respecting nature, we love and respect God.
There are many things the church can learn from nature. Take a Starling murmuration as an example: the starlings seem to be connected together, as they twist and turn and change direction at a moment’s notice. Murmuration movement is collectively controlled by each bird, reacting almost simultaneously to the slightest change of direction by another flock member, as if they are of one mind. Starlings increase their survival rate as a result of flying together. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others,” (Romans 12:5)
So many churches are disconnected from creation. Rather than acting in partnership with nature, we act against or compete with it. Those within the church who do act are often isolated. We would collectively progress further and have a stronger voice if various groups, such as churches across denominations and other community/faith groups formed alliances.
The crisis we face is already beyond any individual or church group. It’s time to feel uncomfortable. We can no longer wait or rely on others to do the right thing. It’s time for us to work in collaboration with other denominations and people outside of the church. Demonstrate our love and respect for God. Follow His examples in nature, and work, like the starlings, together in equilibrium.
This reflection article was written by Jackie for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and church’ Jackie is a social worker, volunteer litter picker upper & weeding, campaigning to cease pesticides in public spaces and a member of Risby Church, Suffolk.