When we think of oceans and mountains, forests and deserts, trees, plants and animals, the sun, the moon, the stars, and all the galaxies, as God's creation, waiting eagerly to be “liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Roman 8:21), we can only stand in awe of God's majesty and God’s all-embracing plan of salvation. It is not just we, human beings, who wait for salvation in the midst of our suffering; all of creation groans and moans with us longing to reach its full freedom (ibid. v.26).
In this way we are indeed brothers and sisters not only of all other men and women in the world but also of all that surrounds us. Yes, we have to love the fields full of wheat, the snow-capped mountains, the roaring seas, the wild and tame animals, the huge redwoods, and the little daisies. Everything in creation belongs, with us, to the large family of God.
All of creation belongs together in the arms of its Creator. The final vision is that not only will all men and women recognise that they are brothers and sisters called to live in unity but all members of God's creation will come together in complete harmony. Jesus the Christ came to realise that vision. Long before he was born, the prophet Isaiah saw it:
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
We must keep this vision alive.
Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey
[NB I have taken the liberty of replacing the Bible passages with the NIV translation rather than the unidentified one used my Nouwen.]
Advent is not just about waiting for Christmas: it is about justice and liberty, about the coming of the Kingdom, the triumph of the mercy of Christ . As Francis of Assisi saw so very clearly, God’s mercy in Christ extends to all creation, and so our prayer and our longing for mercy and justice must encompass all creation too.
[Title of this post courtesy of Marty Sampson]