YMCA Vision 2030 Pillar 3, Sustainable Planet
World Council Devotions, 07/07/022
This excerpt from the main presentation of the Devotions focuses on responsibility and how all that we do, big or small, affects us all, as presented by:
Programme Executive for Youth Engagement, World Council of Churches, Geneva
We strategise to fuel our passion, serve others and ignite concrete solutions towards a just and sustainable world for all. In the book of Genesis, the word ‘dominion’ struck me, as dominion has been misinterpreted in many ways throughout history and at present. Humankind associates dominion in a hierarchical order and power dynamics over other human beings and the rest of creation. This interpretation is tied to colonialism, imperialism, exploitation and abuse of Mother Earth, and the church and the faith communities are not exempt from this.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that climate change has been undeniably caused by human activities and undeniably affecting every corner of the world. There is an immediate need for all sectors to limit global warming. Now it is time to recognise, repent and reconcile.
According to indigenous community wisdom, “We are one with creation, and creation is one with us. Everything around us, seen and unseen, is interconnected and interrelated. And we shall treat each other – all living things – as siblings of the entire creation.”
What we do, no matter how small or how big, affects us all. Our abuse of power over creation leads us to exploit and abuse Mother Earth as if her natural resources are unlimited. We act as though everything was created for us.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said nobody should profit from the rising sea levels, rising temperatures and human suffering caused by the burning of fossil fuels. We can no longer continue feeding our addictions to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow, he said.
God created human beings according to God’s image to have dominion over every living thing that moves upon the earth. The Hebrew term radah or dominion is actually an affirmative in its nature. It means to take care of, to be good towards God’s creation and to have a shared responsibility with God. Dominion is life-affirming, not destroying,
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ in God incarnate; He came to this earth so that we have life and have it abundantly. Being created in God’s image, we are called to this shared responsibility to have dominion over the entire creation. For all to live abundantly, we must repent for our sins, for contributing to the climate crisis, to the amount of garbage found at the top of Mount Everest, to the plastics at the bottom of the oceans, from Siberia with record high temperatures, to Kilimanjaro to its snow disappearing, and the many islands in the Pacific that may be submerged. Many species are now facing extinction, and the rich biodiversity of creation on which we all depend is under serious threat. Now the love of God for all creation made visible in Christ calls out for change and repentance.
The YMCA World Council as a prophetic voice can also explore its efforts, through bolder actions and policies and continue to ensure that young people are in the decision-making process, finding solutions together.
From dust human beings were formed, that we are from the earth, we are parts of the earth, and we are called to serve the entire creation. This is God’s intended manifestation of human beings’ dominion over God’s creation.
May the Holy Spirit help recognise the pains and sufferings of the earth, move us to repentance and address the climate crisis, lead to the process of reconciliation with the entire creation, and bring God’s Kingdom on earth.
Over four days at the 20th World Council, we shared in daily Devotions. Each day looked through a Christian faith lens at a value linked to one of the four Vision 2030 Pillars of Impact. And each day we also heard the perspective of a different faith tradition, and our speakers explored the concepts of Wholeness, Hope, Responsibility and Dignity. Let their words offer focus and guidance as you embark on your prayer journey.