A new creation

In the wake of November’s ferocious bushfires, Jonathan Cornford is longing for healing and renewal.


Jonathan Cornford is co-founder of Manna Gum, a ministry that seeks to reclaim the Bible's teaching on economy and ecology. Jonathan lives in Bendigo, Victoria, with his wife and two daughters, where they are members of the Seeds Community.

A new creation

The creator of all things has entered into creation.

Daily Reading John 1:14-18

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Maps of red and black, marking the progress of devastation.

Each time I read reports of the bushfires developing in New South Wales and Queensland this spring, my gut tightened. We live on a block with bushland immediately next door to us, less than ten metres from the house. This is the thing we love most about where we live but it comes with a price. In 2009 (before we moved here) the Black Saturday fires came right through this area, taking houses and the life of a man who lived across the road from us. So those early, unseasonal but ferocious fires up North are a reminder to me of a clear and present danger that my family must learn to live with.

But beyond this immediate sense of threat, and perhaps the greater cause of gut-tightening anxiety for me, is the fact that these fires provide one more unwelcome confirmation of something I have known for some time. Our climate is changing rapidly, with immense implications for all life. It is we who have done this. Meanwhile, our politicians continue to play games. As dangerous climate change unfolds before our eyes, the sense of longing is palpable: longing for the awakening of repentance; longing for hopeful common action; longing for healing and renewal.

In today’s reading, John’s Gospel makes what is perhaps the most astounding claim of all history: “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory”. The creator of all things, and the principle that underpins all life (Jn 1:1-3) has entered into creation with the purpose of communicating with it (hence, “the Word”). Strikingly, the gospel does not tell us that God’s word assumed “human form”, although it might easily have said that. Rather, it tells us that the Word became “flesh” (sarx in the Greek language) which is a word that the Bible applies to all living things.

In Jesus, God has radically identified himself with his whole creation. God has taken on the limitation, the vulnerability and the mortality experienced by all creatures. In Jesus, we see God’s complete affirmation of the life that was brought into being. God does not intend to save us from the suffering of creation; God intends to save all of creation. In Jesus (God-in-the-flesh) we have glimpsed “glory”: a creature fully-alive*. The final word of this story is not oblivion but resurrection: a new creation.

We live in deeply uncertain times and there are no assurances as to how this century is going to pan out. Nevertheless, we have been given a fundamental assurance that whatever happens, God will not abandon his creation. If it was worth God dying for it, then it is well worth us living and working for it.

*the idea of “glory” being “a creature fully alive” is a paraphrase of Saint Irenaeus

We Are Longing: An Advent series from Common Grace