Reflection by Mick Pope. Art by Chris de Hoog.
The creation is indeed groaning. In Australia, we have been reminded of this in drastic fashion by the bushfires that have torn through our country, leaving a trail of destruction behind. Plastic pollution, coral bleaching, drought and climate change are all signs of a creation that is longing for liberation.
My painting shows cracked earth, a dry riverbed, white plastic shapes, a lack of life and the red glow of fire. The figures are separated, lacking any real connection.
Creation Groans Romans 8:19-22
By Mick Pope
As I write, our continent is in flames, as climate change has produced hotter and drier conditions. Meanwhile land clearing continues unabated, our Great Barrier Reef is dying, coal is still king, and hope is in short supply. This land, which Aboriginal people have lived in harmony with from time immemorial, is groaning.
Paul tells us that creation groans. In his time, he could see the polluted air over cities like Rome, see the filth in the rivers. Paul saw that God has given creation over to human folly. Human sin and lack of wisdom are producing suffering and enslavement, and we groan together with the rest of creation.
But if we groan together, we will be liberated together. Paul looks forward to a time when the resurrection renews us, and our relationship with the creation. And because we have the first fruits of the Spirit, not only should we look for signs of hope, we are to be signs of hope and agents of healing. Wherever people groan, wherever creation groans, there the church is meant to be with a message and a ministry of liberation.
Heavenly Father, God of creation, and liberator of the enslaved: We groan for ourselves and for others in our bondage to sin and to decay.
We groan with our fellow creatures as they suffer under our folly and ignorance.
Come Lord Jesus to liberate us all.
While we wait, keep us from being idle.
Inspire and energise us by your Spirit to work for the kingdom, bringing peace and liberation for your groaning creation.
In Christ’s name, Amen.
Mick Pope has written several books on climate justice, holds a PhD in climate science and is a lecturer in meteorology at Monash University.
Chris de Hoog is an artist and graphic designer living and working in Geelong, Victoria. He is married to Amie and they have four children.