As a new Season of Creation celebration guide was released, a 8 June webinar on “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope” offered reflections from diverse Christian traditions that illuminated a way forward through caring for our planet.
The webinar was organised by the World Council of Churches, Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Christian Aid, European Christian Environmental Network, Global Catholic Climate Movement, Lausanne Creation Care Network, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches, and World Evangelical Alliance.
Five panelists and more than 800 participants sparked a rich online discussion that continues to enlighten people across the world.
“The COVID-19 context inspired us to slow down and reflect on how this new life should be connected to the rest of the creation,” said Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, a panelist from the Philippines who serves with Micah Global. He shared how churches in the Philippines are practicing life-giving agriculture in their backyards, cultivating a deep spirituality as well as feeding communities. He stressed that churches should pay attention to the ones who have been safeguarding Mother Earth for hundreds of years - indigenous people.
Bringing a perspective from Costa Rica, Ruth Padilla deBorst gave the inspiring example of Casa Adobe as an alternative community striving to live in just conviviality with one another and with the nature. “We have to abandon the status quo and resist the spirit of consumerism” which has shaken the balance of the web of life, she said. “Living justly together as part of a planetary community requires a counterculture reaction…We need to reflect on vital questions such as: what is life for? What is good life?”
Representing the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Fr Joshtrom Kureethadam thanked God for providing the Biblical concept and practice of jubilee as a strategy for restoring right relations with nature. “It is about kairos which is an invitation for ecological conversion,” he reflected. “The celebration of jubilee should begin with the acknowledgment of our sins against the land, sea, air…and all creation.” He suggested that church action for jubilee should be “creative action that is led by the Holy Spirit… concrete, practical, and visionary…[as well as] participative.”
Martin Kopp with the Protestant Federation of France shared “nine and half theses” on the jubilee theme. Emphasising the primary responsibility of wealthy nations and wealthy people to make necessary changes in lifestyles and consumption, and calling for radical changes in prevailing economic systems, he proposed the critical need to embark on an economy of de-growth. “While the COVID-19 crisis has upended many lives, the unprecedented government actions to address the crisis also reveal that jubilee is possible,” he said.
The fifth panelist, Ruth Valerio, director of global advocacy at Tearfund, based in the United Kingdom, gave a prerecorded input. “Life is to be lived in community” where “all people are equal,” she said. If we are going to see jubilee for Mother Earth, “we cannot return to black skies by business as usual...We must reboot the economy.”
Season of Creation 2020 Celebration Guide, “Jubilee for the Earth,” now available – WCC news release 28 May 2020