The Clergy of CSI have been trying to bring out a Christian response to ecological issues, in the back drop of the current ecological issues in India. Five volumes of Earth Bible edited by Rev. Norman C Habel have been used by the Clergy in their study in formulating an Indian Eco theology. The important contribution of the Earth Bible is in its suggestion of six eco-justice principles that guide us in our interpretation of the Bible. They are, 1)The Principal of Intrinsic Worth- The universe, earth and all its components have intrinsic worth/value.2) The Principle of Interconnectedness- Earth is a community of interconnected living things that are mutually dependent on each other for life and survival.3)The Principle of Voice- Earth is a subject capable of raising its voice in celebration and against injustice. 4) The Principle of Purpose- The universe is part of a dynamic cosmic design within which each piece has a place in the overall goal of that design. 5) The Principle of Mutual Custodianship- Earth is a balanced and diverse domain where responsible custodians can function as partners, rather than rulers, to sustain a balanced and diverse earth community. 6) The Principle of Resistance- Earth and its components not only differ from injustice at the hands of humans, but actively resist them in the struggle for justice.
The Department of Ecological Concerns conducted workshops at different places to study the four volumes. In order to study the fifth volume the Department of Ecological concerns organised a Colloquium. The Colloquium to study ‘The Earth Story in the New Testament’, edited by Norman C Habel & Vicky Balabansky was held from 20th to 21st February 2018 at CSI Synod Centre, Chennai. Rev. Dr. Mothy Varkey(MT Seminary Kottayam), Rev.Dr.Gregory Bhasker (UTC), Rev. Joseph Samuel (KUTS), Rev Dr. Jayachitra L (Synod) and Rev. John Samuel Ponnuswamy(ECC)) served as resource persons. Rev.Dr.Chilkuri Vasanth Rao, Principal of UTC served as the Moderator. (Four New Testament Professors and two old testament Professors) . Thirty four clergy from various dioceses participated. The Colloquium was astudy and response to Bible texts from the standpoint of the Earth, recognizing Earth as a subject in the text with which we seek to relate empathetically rather than as a topic to be analysed rationally.
Some of the response of the participants are: Rev Palleti S Santhi Swaroop – Rayalaseema: “Reading the ecology from the new testament perspective was a really challenging experience. The study of the book has changed the understanding of the Bible”. Rev. Prazwal Jasper – KG: “It was a first time experience for me and it was very interesting and also challenging. Reading the bible in an ecological perspective concentrating on the New Testament is something new to me and it caught my attention. I would make sure that I would contribute to the cause in one way or the other”. Rev Ninan Jacob – MKD: “Thanks for this great opportunity. It was a good programme. The task was to study all 15 articles within the stipulated limited time. Understood the methodology to read the Bible in a different perspective. All presentations were excellent”. Rev P Victor Paul, Karimnagar: “Resource persons did their best. Discussions and the summary of articles were eye opener and thought provoking. One remark is that the study book should have been given before the programme. Trip to eco issue location would have been appreciated.”. Rev Robin Prabakaran –Coimbatore. “The paper presentations by the resource persons opened my eye and mind to have more concerns to the earth. Earth story in New Testament made a great impact”. Rev J Vincent Robert – Kanyakuamri: “Well planned systematically arranged programme . Study materials are challenging and inspiring. Rev. Priscilla Rawade, UTC: “The programme was well arranged. It gave a new insight and new perspective to look at the bible from an ecological point of view. Please include more female candidates in future programmes. Revd J Rajan – DMR: “The colloquium was very informative and innovative. In this seminar I have learned how to study Bible with an ecological eye”.
Prof.Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad
Department of Ecological Concerns
Teacher’s job is not just to interpret the world but to change it
- Mr. V Sasi, Deputy Speaker of Kerala Assembly
“The challenges faced by our students in the twenty-first century are so overwhelming that teachers have to be retooled and provided with the necessary resources and incentives as they rededicate themselves to perform their expanding roles as educators. They must accept this challenge and be true revolutionaries in the battle to ensure that our young students become valuable citizens in a new, caring, and tolerant society. The teacher’s job is not just to interpret the world but to change it”. said Mr. V.Sasi, Deputy speaker of Kerala Assembly while inaugurating the GSP training for teachers of South Kerala Diocese held at LMS higher Secondary School, Amaravila, Neyattinkara. Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad, Hon.Director of CSI synod Ecological Concerns presided over the function. Rev.adv.Saji N Stewart welcomed the gathering. 150 teachers participated in the training programme. Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad , Mr.Shibu Joy and Mr.Anish K. Mathew led the training programme.
Some of the comments wrote on Evaluation form: Roshan MS, LMS LPS Amaravila (9495011257) : “I realized the importance of observing nature and protecting nature. I imbibed the idea that Earth belongs to all creatures and every creature has a role in the nature. I will start eco club in my school”. V. Kumari Liji, LMS LPS Kuttaninnathil (8943516900): “Training was helpful. I will take initiative in implementing GSP in my School”. Sindhu L , LMS LPS, Anchumarankala (9497640221): “All the sessions were interesting and informative. I am attending this type of programme first time in my life. I will train my students”. Nisha RaniGP, LMS HSS Chemboor (9486955782): “I will take immediate steps to implement Green School Programme in my school”. Flower Viji Kumari , LMS HSS, Amaravila (9497690453): “GSP training was very helpful. We got many valuable ideas in Ecology. All sessions were interesting”. T Irene latha, LMS Tamil HS, Parasala (9400904452): “The programme helped me a lot. I will implement it in my school”. Indusree K I, LMS HS(9447584391), “The training was informative and very interesting. The valuable information shared here are useful to our students. We will do green auditing in our school”.
Prof. Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad
Hon. Director of Ecological Concerns of CSI Synod
The training for the teachers of Coimbatore Diocese was held on 1st February at CSI All
Church Parish Hall, Coimbatore. Rt. Rev. Timothy Ravinder, Bishop of Coimbatore Diocese,
inaugurated the programme. Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad, Hon. Director of the Ecological
Department of CSI Synod explained the significance of Green School Programme. He appreciated
St. Hilda's School, Ooty and CSI Matriculation HS School, Coimbatore for successfully completing the
Green Audit. All the participants appreciated the Green School training programme led by Mr. G.
Balachandran. Some of the comments written by the participants are given below.Seventy teachers
attended the training programme. Mr. A. Anburaj from CSI Matriculation School, Coimbatore wrote:
“It was a helpful training. Mr. Balachandran motivated us. Mrs. R. Jayaseeli from Gell Memorial
School: “I learnt many things to implement in my school. My school got green school award of CSI
last year. We will encourage children to plant saplings on their birthdays instead of cutting cakes
etc”. Mrs. S. Lida, CSI Primary School, Kallatti, Ooty: “I will make my place green. I will educate
students on the importance of saving the environment”. Mr. G.Arun from CSI Boys Hr.Sec.School,
Erode: "The method of interaction and activities during the training given by Mr.Balachandran really
motivated us. I will initiate GSP in my school".Ms. Hanna from CSI Primary School, Coimbatore: “I will
help students to take care of nature and encourage students to save water. With them, we will plant
as many trees as possible. Mr.Earnest Paulson from CSI Matric HSS: “I will give training to students in
reducing waste and saving water”. Ms. Jayanthi from CSI Hobart primary School Salem: “The
training motivated and inspired me to do something for the environment. Mr.Balachandran’s class
was impressive and challenging”.
Prof. Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad
Hon. Director, CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns
The firstGreen SchoolProgramme training of 2018 was held on 27thJanuary 2018 at CSI Synod Centre, Chennai. Prof. Samuel Cornelius, Treasurer of Madras diocese inaugurated the training programme.Mr.G Balachandran, an international eco trainer gave leadership for the one-day training. One hundred and six teachers from various dioceses participated in the training. Anne Kalavathy from Trichy wrote on the evaluation form: Very effective training. We will implement it in our schools. D. L Bennet Sekhar: Motivated us. We will plant one sapling during the birthdays of each teacher in our school campus. Gigil Rejinold from Manjeri: Got innovative ideas through this training. We will arrange a camp for the teachers in our diocese. Mr. Jayaseelan from Peroor: We will give training to students to save water and energy. Johnson Vidysagar from Nandyal Diocese wrote: The training was helpful for us and gave a new direction to our work. We will start green auditing next year. Preethi Jean K from CSIBain School wrote: GSP training has motivated me. Being a teacher I can make a change in my school. G Satyavathy from Dornakal: The training really challenged me. I will educate my students on the importance of Green School Programme.
Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad,
Hon. Director, CSI Synod EcologicalConcerns Dept.
The firstGreen SchoolProgramme training of 2018 was held on 27thJanuary 2018 at CSI Synod Centre, Chennai. Prof. Samuel Cornelius, Treasurer of Madras diocese inaugurated the training programme.Mr.G Balachandran, international eco trainer gave leadership for the one day training. One hundred and six teachers from various dioceses participated in the training. Anne Kalavathy from Trichy wrote on the evaluation form: Very effective training . We will implement it in our schools. D. L Bennet Sekhar : Motivated us. We will plant one sapling during the birthdays of each teacher in our school campus. Gigil Rejinold from Manjeri: Got innovative ideas through this training. We will arrange a camp for the teachers in our diocese. Mr. Jayaseelan from Peroor: We will give training to students to save water and energy. Johnson Vidysagar from Nandyal Diocese wrote: The training was helpful for us and gave a new direction in our work. We will start green auditing next year. Preethi Jean K from CSIBain School wrote: GSP training has motivated me. Being a teacher I can make a change in my school. G Satyavathy from Dornakal: The training really challenged me . I will educate my students on the importance of Green School Programme.
- Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad
Telugu Regional Ecological Conference was held at CSI Diocesan Office,Medak Diocese, Secundrabad from 19th to 20th January 2018. The Rt.Rev.A.C.Solomon Raj(Bishop of Medak Diocese) inaugurated the conference. Prof.Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad (Honorary Director of Department of Ecological Concerns) presided over the inaugural session. Mrs. A.C.Solomon Raj(Bishopamma), Rev.Dr.T.Bhasker ( Vice Chairman of the Diocese), Rev.U Daniel (Ministerial Secretary of the Diocese), Rev.M. Jayanand(Secretary of Diocesan Ecological Committee), Ms.Sukanya Prakash(Synod Ecological Committee member) offered felicitations. Rev.Dr.Chilkuri Vasanth Rao, Principal of United Theological College delivered the keynote address. Rev.Devanand Subbuddy(Rayalseema), Rev.Ramulu Emmanuel(Karimnagar), Rev.Syam Sunder(Nandyal), Rev.Solomon raj(Dornakal) and Rev.Jason (Krishna Godavari), Ms. Augustina ( Office staff of the department of Ecological Concerns, Chennai) addressed the gathering in the various sessions. Sixty delegates from six dioceses attended the two-day programme. Rev. James Cecil Victor ( Director of Pastoral Concerns, CSI Synod) delivered the concluding address. Honorary Director expressed thanks to the Bishop and the office bearers of the Medak Diocese for the magnanimous hospitality extended to the delegates. CSI Synod Next Regional Ecological Conference will be held at Khammam (Dornakal Dicocese) in August 2018.
Prof.Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad
(Honorary Director of Department of Ecological Concerns of CSI Synod)>
Rt.Rev. Thomas K Oommen, Moderator of CSI presided over the Ecological Convention and Rev.Dr. Daniel Rathanakara Sadananda, General Secretary of CSI Synod inaugurated the convention. Adv.Rober Bruce, Treasurer of CSI Synod, Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad, Director of CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns, Rev. Jiji Joseph, Eco convener of CSI MKD, Rev.George Mathew and Prof.David Abraham offered felicitations. Green Parish, Green School, Green Institution, Green Parsonage and Green farmer awards were distributed.
“Train students to observe and watch nature, then that is the best education you can give. Nature will reveal its treasures to the students who observe nature respectfully and curiosity will influence each student to change their mindset. Changing the mindset of the students is the primary step of the Green School programme”. Prof. S. Sivadas was delivering the keynote address of the training of Green School Programme organised by the CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns on 9th December 2017 at Christugiri Blind School, Varkala, Kerala. Prof. S. Sivadas has been actively engaged in the field of education, interacting with students, teachers and parents and has evolved innovative methods and activities to transform learning into an exciting experience. His two-hour class inspired the teachers.
Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackadu presented the CSI&CSE Green School Programme and requested more schools to join the programme next year. The Centre for Science and Environment has a curriculum for Green Auditing and the details are available on their website. CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns will be publishing a calendar of eco activities for the schools to follow and the department will monitor it.
Rev.Dr.Bhanu Samuel, Vice Chairman of Kollam Kottarakara Diocese presided over the function and Rt.Rev.Oommen George, Bishop of Kollam Kottarakara inaugurated the Green School Programme. During the evaluation of the programme, the teachers expressed their gratitude to the CSI in organising a conference which was an eye-opener to them and some of the evaluation reports quoted below are the examples. Mr. Suby T George from LMS LPS Maranad wrote: “I have attended lot of programmes on Ecology, but this is first time I am hearing a class like this which has inspired me a lot. I will implement the Green School Programme in my School”. Mr. Stanly Yohannan from Kattanam CMS HS wrote: “Today’s classes were very effective and useful. These classes helped me to understand my relationship with nature. I understood that each and everything that God created has its intrinsic value and purpose. I will certainly arrange a meeting of teachers to implement Green School Programme in my School”. Ms. Sherilmol LMSLPS Vilangara wrote: “I understood many new things which were hitherto unknown to me. The classes inspired me. I will arrange a meeting of teachers, parents and the members of local body for implementing it in my School”.
Prof.Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad
Hon.Director, Department of Ecological Concerns
The CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns organised an Ecological camp at Thoothukudi Nazareth Diocese from 5th to 7th December 2017. Primarily it was a Green School campaign to train teachers and clergy to impart sustainable values to students and to become eco counsellors. Secondly, it was to study the impact of climate change in Thoothukudy.
Rev.S.E.C.Devasahayam, Bishop of Thoothukudy Nazareth presided over the inaugural function. Rev.Dr.John Samuel, ECC, Bengaluru delivered the keynote address.
The Green School Programme class was based on the syllabus prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment and Mr G Balachandran, an international motivator in six hours presented the Green School idea in an interactive way. Green School is a resource efficient building, one that uses little water, optimizes energy efficiency, minimizes waste generation, catches and recycles water and provides healthier space for its occupants. Through the workshop, he motivated and inspired the participants to implement the Green School programme in their respective area.
Dr.K.Diruviya Raj, Assistant Professor at Suganthi Devadasan Marine Research Institute and Dr.Deepak Samuel, Marine Ecologist highlighted the impact of Climate Change on the Marine life and explained in detail how global warming is affecting the coral reefs and the biodiversity. Dr. Lita Sunder explained the impact of Climate change on fishes. CSI Synod Department Ecological Concerns got an opportunity for the first time to study the impact of climate change on marine life and we also visited the climate affected areas. Coral rehabilitation is an effective adaptive mechanism to cope with the impact of climate change and to restore the eco-system service through resilience. This was evidenced by the comparatively less coral mortality on Thoothukudi coast during the coral bleaching event in 2016, according to experts. Out of the total 110 sq km reef area, about 30 sq km have been degraded due to anthropogenic and natural factors, especially due to climate change. Though coral mining stopped completely in 2005, there was an increase of live coral cover in the degraded areas thereafter. However, climate change impact caused coral bleaching and mortality and led to the loss of habitat and biodiversity including migration of fish.
Dr.Selvin Samuel, an environmentalist and the former Principal of St. John’s College Tirunelveli, presented a paper explaining the basics of climate change and its impacts. Rev.Michael and Rev.Daniel Gnaprakasam took morning devotions relating Bible to climate change.
Thoothukudy also was known asTuticorin, is aport city, located about 590 kilometres south ofChennai and 190 kilometres northeast of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). Major educational establishments in the city includeThoothukudi Medical College,Fisheries College and Research Institute, Marine Training Academy,V.O.C. Arts & Science College, Government Polytechnic College,andAnna UniversityTuticorin Campus. Tuticorin Portis one of the fastest growing MajorPorts in India. Thoothukudi is known as "Pearl City" due to the pearl fishing carried out in the town. The majority of the people of the city are employed in salt pans, sea-borne trading, fishing, and tourism. The weather has a direct impact on the respondent’s health, and if the overall climate becomes warmer, there will be an increase in health problems. Previous experience shows that during hot weather, 48% are affected by infectious disease and 20% respondents reported with affected Malaria disease,16% Dengue and Yellow fever, 9% Diarrhoea Disease, 4% Cholera, 2% Skin cancers,1% Cataracts, and 1% affected by Heat-related mortality. It is further anticipated that there will be an increase in the number of deaths due to greater frequency and severity of heat waves and other extreme weather events. In 2011, Indiaranked thirdin salt production worldwide, after China and the US. In the years since Independence, the salt industry has grown substantially, from 1.9 million tonnes in 1947, India produced 22.18 million tonnes of salt in 2011-12. Tamil Nadu accounts for 30% of this,second onlyto Gujarat. And much of the state’s salt production comes from Thoothukudi. The two main occupational hazards that salt pan workers are prone to are kidney disease and retinal issues.
We visited the campus of Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation (SPIC) Limited, one of the leading fertilizer manufacturing companies in the country located at Thoothukudi in the State of Tamil Nadu and saw the thermal plants from outside. Both of them are directly or indirectly related to fossil fuel. Even though both of them are the vertebra of a carbon-based economy they are emitting Carbon dioxide which is responsible for climate change.
The three days eco camp concluded with an inspiring and thought-provoking concluding message of Bishop SEC Devasahayam. Bishop, Bishopamma and Diocesan officials were present throughout the programme. The Rt.Rev.M Joseph, Chairman of ecological concerns committee took the pain to visit the camp on the first day and delivered the Christmas message. Forty-nine delegates from various diocese attended the programme. The hospitality of TND was highly appreciated by all the participants. Rev. Yesudian Duraiswamy, the newly appointed director of Diocesan eco department, coordinated the different aspects of the camp efficiently.Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad
Church of South India - Department of Ecological Concerns
SEASON OF CREATIONIWORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR CREATION
ECO-HOUR OF WORSHIP
Theme: Uniting with Nature: United to Future
01/09/17 @ CSI EDEN Eco-Spirituality Centre, Othera
(This Sermon was preached by the Revd Viji Varghese Eapen, who, instead of wearing the Clerical Vestments, appeared in the attire of an ‘Indian Farmer’, trying to deconstruct the concepts of Church, Altar, Liturgy, Sacraments and Priest-Hood, in order to challenge the congregation to become a Church, relevant to the Indian Context, where owing to the rise in fascist corporatism, thousands of farmers were committing suicide.)
O people of my land, my fellow countrymen and women,
What a joy to see all of you gathered in this room as we begin this year’s ‘Season of Creation’.
I know your hearts are thumbing with excitement to join many around the world, many Churches, the World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Pope’s World Wide Prayer Network, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Act Alliance, Green Faith and the Lutheran World Federation in celebrating this Season of Creation.
We should be very grateful to the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I, who for the Orthodox Church, initiated in 1989, this ‘Season of Creation’ starting from September 1st and ending on October 4th, the Day of St. Francis.
I am sure that all of you know the significance of St. Francis, who is venerated as the ‘Patron Saint of Ecology’. History says that he loved creation close to his heart, that he used to talk to everything in the nature and he called all animals and plants as sisters and brothers.
So, as the whole world joins in the ‘Season of Creation’ preceding the ‘Day of St. Francis’, I wish you all the very best and pray that this Season would challenge all of us to toil together, united with nature for a better future.
O my God, I forgot to introduce myself. I know you expected a Priest, from a Church, who administers Sacraments to be here to preach to you. Well, then I should clarify some things which I believe would help us to celebrate the ‘Season of Creation’ meaningfully.
For you, the Church is sacred and the world is secular. For me it is not, because I believe that Christ Jesus came, not to redeem the Church, but the whole Cosmos, the World. For me, the world is sacred. This world is my sacred space of worship and ‘work-ship’.
You may have a‘liturgy’in your Church, but how many of you know that the word ‘liturgy’ means ‘work of the people’? If so, is it just what you do for two hours every week, the liturgy? Is it not what I do every second, uniting with this sacred world, the real liturgy? When I plough, when I till, when I sow, when I pluck the weeds, when I manure, when I water, when I harvest...for me, that is the liturgy.
You may have 6liturgical seasons, the Advent, the Christmas, the Epiphany, the Lent, the Easter and the Pentecost. But I am familiar with six other seasons, I call as ‘Ritu’(in Sanskrit),namely,Vasanta, Grishma, Varsha, Sarada, Hemanta and Sisira. Yes, the Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, Pre-Winter and Winter, divided into two months per year.
You may have arguments and clashes regarding the number ofSacramentsand the doctrine of Sacraments. I don’t have any clashes, for I have only one sacrament, and that is the nature around me, which I believe is an outward expression of inward grace of God. Isn’t this nature a great revelation of God’s own being? In fact, the bread, wine and water you use as symbols in your sacraments are part and products of this one sacrament, I have mentioned.
And most importantly, you may think I am just a ‘Farmer’. Yes, I am. But you know, I believe I am aPriest, called to tend and nurture this nature. You may not see me having a ‘stole’, but I do use yoke (which for you is the ‘stole’). I may not have a girdle, because I am always at service, ministering this earth and the whole creation. I have my own mitre, I have my own vestments, I have my own ‘staff’, hope you saw my Sickle and Hoe.And how wonderful to realize that my Father is a Farmer and a Gardner, and as a Priest I represent my Father, that Farmer.
Hence, this day, as you gather on the first of this year’s ‘Season of Creation’, I want you to relocate our Altars.The Altar is not here, the Altar is out there.
While I love the whole concept of the ‘Season of Creation’, I feel sad that I found myself missing in the whole picture. You have a Day for Forest, Day for Land, Day for Ocean, Day for Wilderness or Desert, Day for River etc...but, why do you not have a day for us, the farmers, the fisherfolk, the indigenous communities whose livelihood is intertwined to forest, land and sea? I don’t believe that this ‘Season of Creation’ should be a time only to romanticize nature and say ‘I love you nature’, ‘I care you nature’. Because, nature is no more the romantic creation that you read in poems and other literature, rather has become the location of all exploitation and torture. The creation around us is groaning and we are part of this groaning. Do you hear our cries? Do you hear our sighs? I wish you say, “I have certainly seen the affliction of my people who are in bondage, and I have heard their cry caused by their slave masters. I really do understand their pain”.
Don’t you know that in the last 22 years, more than 3.3 lakh farmers like me have committed suicide in India? How can you sit quietly in this room and celebrate ‘Season of Creation’ when we are being strangled and torn apart by our land lords, by the state and by the corporate? I have heard many of you speaking against ‘Fascism’? But why do you limit fascism only to the realms of religion and culture? Have you not heard Mussolini, who said, "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." Is it not that happening India? If you have doubt, look at the Union Budget 2017. Just see the amount waived off for the corporates, compared to the very small debts waived off for us, farmers? Is this the government for the Corporates, or the government for the people?
The Church has got only two choices, either to stand with Ahab or to stand with Naboth, either to stand with Goliath or to stand with David, either to stand with the Anti Christ or Christ, either to stand with the corporate fascist state or with the poor and exploited nature and her sons and daughters.
This ‘Season of Creation’ painfully reminds me not only of the exploited nature but also the exploited body of women. The Sanskrit word, ‘ritu’ not only refers to the seasonal cycle in nature but also the ‘menstrual cycle’ of a woman. The 28 days of menstrual cycle of a woman is categorized as Winter (1 – 6 Days), Spring (7 – 13 days), Summer (14 – 20 Days) and Autumn (21 – 28 Days). This shows how much our understanding of earth and women’s bodies are culturally linked. Sadly both bodies are often exploited.There is no liberation of creation without liberation of woman. There is no celebration of creation without celebration of womanhood.
Now, my sisters and brother, I urge you to shed off your lethargy and the theology, proclaimed and celebrated within the four walls of your strong and secure structures. If a God who never incarnates is an irrelevant God, the theology that never incarnates too is irrelevant, I believe.I want you to destroy your Altars, for the world is your Altar. I want you to destroy your Priesthood, for the human race is called to be the priests of this nature.I want you not only to take up the Cross, but also the sickle, the plow, the hoe. And in the process, as Prophet Joel says, you may have to “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears”, because we have a fight to fight against all kinds of ecological injustice to make the ‘Season of Creation’ a real time of liberation and celebration.
The ‘Season of Creation’ would become meaningful not when you become like the St. Francis who lived in caves, hermitages and mountain side, but like the St. Francis who started a revolution when he literally stripped naked of his clothing, left behind his wealth, and began to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.To this day, there has been perhaps no other saint who has challenged us to find true happiness and joy by living in contradiction to the profit motives of the world.
This small state of Kerala is celebrating Onam, celebrating the return of Mahabali, the indigenous Dalit and Dravida King who was pushed down into the hell by the Vamana, who represents the Aryan, the aliens who thwarted our people and made us slaves. But Onam says, there is a return of Mahabali. Justice is coming back. Righteousness will spring again and will flow again like a rushing, gushing river.Today, the Herods, Ceasers, Pilates and Priests may crucify us and the whole creation. But, we believe, three days from now, there is Easter. We will come back. Yes, today, the Herods, Ceasers, Pilates and Priest may crucify us and the whole creation. But, we believe, three days from now, there is Easter. We will come back.
I do not want to relish in today’s ‘Season of Creation’ because I have a dream for tomorrow.
I dream a tomorrow...a life of liberation...a life of celebration when the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; oceans roar, and all that fills it; fields exult, and everything in it, when all the trees of the forest shall sing for joy. I dream a day when a shoot shall come out from our stump, and a branch shall grow out of our roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him.
I dream a day when the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.
I dream a day when the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
Yes,I stand here at the portals of this world, the dry land, the altar where many of our lives were sacrificed by the empire, the state and the mammons of this world, andI see the angel showing me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city.
Come drink from this river, says the Lamb.
Come dream with me.
Come fight with me.
Let the empire crumble. Let life rejoice. Let us celebrate.
Let us unite with nature. Let us unite for a common future.Amen!
[The Revd Viji Varghese Eapen, who holds ‘Master in Theology’ in ‘Christian Theology with Specialization in Liturgical Theology’, from the Serampoore University (India), served as the Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations, Ecological Concerns and the Department of Communication at the Church of South India Synod Secretariat, during the period 2011 – 2014. He has been teaching in the Department of Christian Ministry as a Visiting Faculty in the United Theological College, Bangalore, South India. Currently, he serves as the Presbyter at the CSI St, Mathias Church, Karikkaattoor, and is preparing to do his PhD in Lancaster University, UK, under the Faculty of ‘Politics, Philosophy and Religion’. ]