This Lent (6 March to 20 April) Bishop Peter and Bishop Ruth are inviting us to focus on caring for the world around us. The Bishops’ Lent Challenge, Living Well in God’s World will help us think about what our Christian faith says about how we live and how we care for creation. This week’s theme is ‘Creation is groaning’.
Want to know more. Click on the headings below to see the reflections, bible readings and facts to inspire you.
We humans are part of a triangle of relationships –God-mankind-earth. We are made to live interconnected lives. Humans are completely dependent on the natural world to sustain life. But in the West we have become increasingly detached from the earth. We get to work in our own private bubble known as a car, and buy what we want, when we want, in supermarkets or online. We live as though creation was made for us. We define ourselves as consumers and we are consuming the equivalent of three planets worth of resources.
The third chapter of Genesis tells us how mankind has gone our own way, failing to obey God’s good instructions designed so that all of creation –human and non-human –could flourish.The environmental crisis is at its heart a spiritual crisis. The prophet Hosea looked around him and saw crop failure and famine, and recognised that this was caused by moral failure, including human greed and selfishness (Hosea 4:1-3). The God-mankind-earth triangle had been broken and every side was affected.
As a result, Paul tells us in Romans 8:18-25 that ‘creation is groaning’, and is ‘waiting in eager expectation for the children of God [you and me] to be revealed’. One day, God will redeem creation along with his people, but in the meantime it is up to us to sort out the mess we have made; we cannot simply trash the place and wait for God to whisk us off to heaven.
How does this affect the way I travel? I love cycling –it gets me out into creation, it keeps me fit, it connects me with my neighbours and the world around me, it saves money and it’s carbon-free. It’s a win-win. As a family we try not to fly –sure, trains take a bit longer, but I see the world around me, meet new people and have had some surprising adventures along the way, with a much lower carbon footprint. These choices can take some effort, but when done in a spirit of joyful obedience they can be fun too, and can reflect something of God’s love for the world and people around us.
Director of Climate Stewards and diocesan Environment Adviser.
- Take one of your journeys in a different way this week. Could you take public transport and/or walk to work, school or church? Or try cycling one or two days a week?
- Find out about lift sharing for regular or occasional journeys at liftshare or blablacar. Or why not join a car club, search online for one near you.
- Take a look at the Sustrans National Cycle Network. Why not get your bike out and explore your local routes, or try building one into your commute?
- If you are thinking of buying a new car, look at hybrid and electric options (but make sure you are buying renewable electricity first!)
- If you usually fly on holiday, why not look for alternatives? Explore the UK, or find a way to travel by train to the continent using seat61.com
- Drive greener! Under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption. Air conditioning uses extra fuel. Remove heavy items, roof-racks and roof boxes unless you need them for the trip. Drive smoothly –braking and accelerating waste fuel. Driving at 50-60 mph means your emissions will be lowest, with up to 25% higher emissions at 70mph
- 23% of trips under a mile, and 33% of trips between 1 and 2 miles, are made by car.
- There are approximately 37.5 million vehicles on our roads. On average, each car in the UK is driven 8,700 miles and is responsible for 2.8 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
- 8% of cars purchased in the UK last year were electric cars. The highest percentage is in Norway; 37%
- Only 4% of UK residents cycle daily, compared to 43% in the Netherlands.
- Every year over 70 million overseas visits are made by UK residents, 59 million of these by air. A return flight to the south of France is responsible for around one third of a tonne of CO2per person.The same trip by train will be responsible for around 10%of the carbon emissions per person.
- Transport accounts for 26% of the UK’s green house gas emissions.