Letter written by Dr Mick Pope for Common Grace's Season of Creation 2023 'Letters to our Future Children' series
When Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan to explain what love your neighbour means, he exploded every boundary we create – race, gender, ideology, you name it. I have lived, and possibly even died by the time you read this, but you are still my neighbour. Indeed, I am one of those responsible in my own small way for the world you are living in.
Is it worse than now? From a climate point of view, likely. It will get worse before it gets better. The issue is how much worse. In my times, we watched political inactivity despite mounting scientific evidence and warnings. We wrote, marched, spoke, called and prayed for urgent climate action. Some got arrested. We all did less than we should: there’s always more to do. I prayed. I wrote books. I spoke, and maybe even inspired some. Was it enough?
What do you do when everything that God set in place for the good of the neighbour becomes diabolical and works for the good of the few?
Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt 5:9). The kingdom of God is all about justice and peace. The world is unjust, but then it always has been. I feel that there’s been so much war: war against Indigenous peoples, war against poor peoples, war against women, war against LGBTQI+ peoples, war against the more than human persons we share the world with. And war against you. We are still praying for peace, writing for peace, singing, and marching and taking action to see the peace and justice of God’s kingdom realised.
It is hard to see change. Hard to hope. Yet we see prayers answered, light shines through the darkness. Moments of peace and rest. Acts of justice. People standing up for what is right. The powers listening even a little. Do you still have hope? Did we give you hope? Not in the “pie in the sky” way, but a clear-eyed vision for what we can still bring about.
I wrote a book about how God is working now for a better world. Lots of little signs. A big splash at the end. But lots of little things now. And lots for us to do. The work never stops, regardless of how hopeful or hopeless we feel.
As Claire Dawson and I wrote, “As an individual, it is certainly within your power to make some small incremental changes. They will help. They may change you. And they may make others around you think again and ask some new questions: they may begin to change too…Take one step at a time, knowing that all around the world others are stepping forward just like you. You are not alone…It is our strong belief that God is calling his Church to join with those seeking action and change, for the love of God, for the love of humankind, and for the love of all that God has created.”
I pray that as I, and more and more people around the world, make these small changes to love our neighbour and put our hope into action, that you will see a mighty river of peace and justice flow.
Regardless of how much we did or didn’t do – there’s still a lot for you to do. For you and for those who follow you, just as I have done bits and pieces for you, my neighbour. Love your neighbour by keeping on working for, and with them. It’s how you love God too!
In prayer, action and hope,
Mick Pope has a PhD in meteorology and a Masters in Theology from the University of Divinity. He has written three books on theology and climate change, and is currently working on publishing his Masters. Mick is a member of Common Grace’s Creation and Climate Justice team.
We invite you this week to start writing your own ‘Letter to our future children’. In this Season of Creation what are your reflections on God’s precious and beautiful creation? What is your commitment to love your neighbour and take action to care for and protect these lands for the flourishing of our future generations? What is your hope and prayer for justice and peace to flow?