Posted by: Postordinandy | February 8, 2010

A Rocha and A Rolla

Recently, we were visited by Rev Dave Bookless of A Rocha (the Rock) UK.

Dave told the fascinating story of the history of A Rocha worldwide, and the growing realisation within the church that perhaps, just perhaps, God might have something to say to us about how we interact with the rest of His creation.

Dave led us through significant portions of both the Old and New Testaments, challenging us to think beyond the temptation to see humankind as the ‘be all and end all’ of God’s work, instead asking us: what do these things say about the relationship between creation & God (not just people and God)?

Creation: in Genesis 1 – humankind is made in God’s image. This is a Job Description: more than anything else – we are charged with caring for the totality of creation, living beings and geological realities. In the story of Noah, God’s saving plans stretch far beyond humankind, (Dave refered to the gathering of breeding pairs of animals as “God’s Biodiversity conservation plan”), and the rainbow is given as a covenant with the whole of creation.

the fall – “cursed is the earth because of you”… when people’s relationship with God goes wrong, so does their relationship with the land – see also Hosea 2.

Israel – a people and a land. The given religious festivals are mostly about the land (or at least our relationship with it), The Sabbath is also given for the land.

Jesus – most of his stories are taken out of creation; the mission of Christ includes the restoration of creation: in whom all things hold together… all things will be reconciled to God”. Creation reacts as Christ dies, and as he is resurrected.

The present & future age – Tom Wright calls the resurrected body “the template for the new creation”. This New Creation not ‘new’ in terms of throwing away the old, but more like something that has been reconditioned or renewed. Romans 8 pictures creation as a woman in the pains of childbirth, waiting to be set free from decay, not destroyed…

All of the above requires us to examine how we, as the community of God, engage with environmental work. Historically, such involvement has been sketchy at best – Dave mentioned conversations with some in churches who have been happy for A Rocha to get involved in such issues in order that they might “witness to the environmentalists”. Yet the implications of this go far beyond such a simplistic and limited course of action.

The late Rob Frost was fond of saying, when Christians take the Earth seriously, people take the Gospel seriously”. Our interaction with the wider creation is more than an opportunity to convince those who lean towards ecological issues that we can be ‘right on’ too; it is a missiological call of obedience to take the world seriously.

Clearly there are numerous practical, alongside theological, issues that face any church which seeks to make some kind of local or global impact on the environment. A Rocha can help with some of these, but most of us will only begin to get past such barriers by starting to engage with wider creation: the 3 R’s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle all are immediately achievable for most of us – at least in some small way.

For St Luke’s in the High Street there are a number of immediate challenges and opportunities:

  • We need to hold each other accountable for how we use the resources we have available to us, including, for example, how we use power at our weekly stall at the Farmers’ Market, and what we do with any waste generated.
  • We should examine what opportunities there may be within the wider community for us to work towards a more holistic engagement with the environment. One possibility for us to explore is to help those who have gardens but are unable to use them effectively to grow fruit & veg.

The science of the impact that humans have on the global ecosystem is ever-more convincing, the theology of what God may require us to do as a result is there to be explored more robustly.



  1. […] Further to our conversation with Dave Bookless from A Rocha, we have been challenged to think about issues of environmental sustainability, particularly how […]

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