21st September 2023

Most of you will know that – wearing my ‘other hat’ for the Diocese of Winchester – I have recently travelled to Burundi,  a country with which the Diocese has a longstanding ‘companion link’.

One of the noticeable things as we drove around the country was how many trees are being planted. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, but there is a huge national effort to plant trees. The Anglican Church is a key player in this through their “One Person, One Tree” goal  to plant a tree for each one of Burundi’s 10 million-strong population.

Trees are vital in a country where most people still cook on open fire, but they are also being planted to prevent soil erosion in what is a very hilly country – especially as the risk of heavy rain and flooding increases each year due to our warming climate. There had been massive flooding over the summer across Burundi, just as we are now seeing flood devastation in Libya.

This is surely a grave inequality – that the poorest communities in the world which have contributed the least towards climate change now bear the worst consequences for generations, while developed nations in the ‘global north’, like the UK and the USA, have contributed the most towards climate change, gaining huge amounts of wealth.  I wonder what Jesus would say about it? I am increasingly convinced that this is an issue that Jesus would turn tables over about!

We are in the season of Creationtide; this year’s theme is taken from the words of the prophet Amos 5:24: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”.  The word ‘righteousness’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘Tsedeka’ which is an ethical standard that refers to the right relationships between people, and treating others as the bearers of the image of God. We see that the church has a distinctive contribution to offer, distinctive and valuable because it flows from our theology – our understanding of God and who God is.

‘Being green’ is not about keeping up with the latest zeitgeist, but rather about listening to God and to scripture and the invitation to join with God’s beautiful vision of justice and equality. As we celebrate this season of Creationtide, may we dig deeper into the wells of theology so that we may more fully grasp the calling of us to care for God’s good creation, and so that we may grow the gospel we proclaim.

Revd Jemima