God and Creation

Scotts_2016 Posted by Keith and Lyn Scott, 26 days ago | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

We went back again to one of our favourite places recently: Chembe Wildlife Sanctuary. About 40 minutes’ drive from where we live, it once belonged to a local voluntary society. In the past few years it was taken over by the government and is now under the agency that cares for all the national parks. 

I am sure I have mentioned this place before. It is stunningly beautiful and peaceful. There are a few concrete picnic tables scattered in the shade of some trees right by the side of a lake. There we sat, ate our lunch and read, or just watched.

A pair of pied kingfishers flitted between bushes and trees at the side of the water, watching and fishing. Twittering malachite sunbirds fed from the flowers of a tree above my head. A marsh harrier turned up for a quick check, causing the vervet monkeys in the canopy to freeze and crouch still, before it continued its patrol of the lake shore. A strange haunting cry came echoing across the shimmering water, and on that hazy edge of sight soared the bird that gives the place its name, Chembe – the African Fish Eagle.

Many African trees have large pea pod like seed pods. They shrivel and dry through the dry season. Some of these are nearly half a meter long and the woods around us were filled with the cracks of the pods splitting, scattering seeds, renewing and restoring the woodland from generation to generation, scattering life in abundance.

I walked down a rough path that leads around the edges of the lake and the surrounding wetland. This is a place at peace with itself, an image of a world as it could be, should be. A place where the one who is Creator of all was shimmering in the haze and dry season dust, amongst the trees. It’s easy to think of this same Creator taking a stroll along the same path as the cool evening breeze blows from the water around sunset, calling out for his reluctant, hidden, human. Such places need to be husbanded with care and commitment.

The concrete world has always mattered to both Jews and Christians. We believe in a world indwelt by the Divine Creator, whose very existence is a silent glorious song of praise. A world where the purposes of the God are found in the stories, legends and history of a people. A world into which God is born in a small village in a small land.

The book of the African prophet Zephaniah opens with a vision of cosmic obliteration. All life will be wiped out, domestic and wild animals, birds, insects and fish. This is a concrete world whose reality and autonomy matters enough to suffer the cost of our own human disharmony, to suffer our human inability to even admit that our own behavior may have universal consequences. The problem behavior for Zephaniah is idolatry and syncretism. A society which has taken to worshipping other gods, which has identified The Lord with "their king”, with the state, its glittering patina of power and relentless accumulation of wealth.

Have we today made the same mistake, over-identified Christian belief with the one specific set of political and economic arrangements? Have we been driven by an obsession with ‘economic growth’ and the same relentless accumulation of wealth, often for the benefit of the few at the cost of the many, on the specious grounds that the gods of ‘the market’ will allow us no alternative?

There is always an alternative, forged by responding to the Creator seeking us along that path. An alternative forged by our commitment to Christ, whose redemptive grace goes beyond the mere salvation of individual ‘human souls’ to all creation as it waits, groaning with longing, for the fulfilment of God’s purpose revealed in Christ.

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