Just opposite the house I live in there is an enormous horse-chestnut tree. In May it’s covered in pyramids of flowers, white with pink tips. But at this time of year the prickly green shells fall to the ground and crack open to reveal the incredible shine of the conkers underneath. For me, conkers littering the ground is one of the signs that summer is gone, the seasons changing as they have year in, year out for millennia.
But this autumn, we need to pause and reflect on that change from a fresh perspective. The climate itself is changing. Frosty mornings come later in the year, summer’s warmth continues. And elsewhere, floods and droughts and wildfires take a far greater toll. The science is now crystal clear: human activity is causing climate change, endangering life on earth in many ways.
As God’s people, we are called to push back against this because it is not God’s will for creation. We believe that the earth is God’s gift to us, made to be our home, made for us to care for and steward. When we exploit and damage that gift, we are dishonouring God who gave it to us. We need instead to treasure the earth as a great sign of God’s love for us.
How can we do this? There are any number of small practical steps we can take: be more careful in our use of energy, eat less meat, recycle more carefully. There are actions we can take as church communities, for example those suggested by A Rocha, who spearhead the eco-church movement. We can let our leaders know how we feel, particularly as COP-26 approaches next month.
But above all we can pray for God’s good world, that we can find new ways of honouring creation, that more and more of us will turn away from greedy, damaging lifestyles, that we may learn to live simply so that others may simply live, that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.