O all ye things that grow in the earth, bless ye the Lord

The impending climate catastrophe that is about to engulf us is much in the news. Indeed, if you read all the stories that come along, despite having to trawl the lesser pages of a newspaper, you would learn that the catastrophe has already begun and industrialising nations of the Global South are bearing the brunt of the initial onslaught: destructive weather systems, drought, floods, crop failures. You would be forgiven for giving way to glum thoughts, that perhaps creation is itself cursed.

Yet even in our darkest moments, we must remember that God has never left us. She is present among us and amongst all creation and blesses that creation which blesses Her in return. I find the words of the canticle (song based on words from the Bible) known as the Benedicite, particularly comforting:

O all ye things that grow in the earth, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye mountains, bless ye the Lord: Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O ye seas and rivers, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

The opening verses of the Benedicite in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer – Image from the 1762 printing of John Baskerville

O all ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O ye children of men, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

The song lists individual creatures (literally ‘created things’) and among them, at the end, the ‘Children of men.’ We my feel, sometimes, separate from other creatures; damaging to them, angering God. Yet we are loved like all the rest, and if we ever doubt that love we need only think about God’s own relationship with Her creation, and in particular, with us.

Creation is a Sacrament; that is, a manifestation of the Grace of God. God so loved, that She poured out Her love in creation. When creation lost its way, God came to save it again, by incarnating as a human being, one of the many creatures of Creation. She so loved us, she suffered as all creatures do, so much so that She promised to come back.

This sacrifice is made again, week after week at Mass; but we should not think that this is the only Sacrament. Creation was the first, and the Incarnation the second. However, the Mass is a humbling reminder that God created all equal, from the ‘lowliest’ creature to humanity itself. That nature is our neighbour whom we are commanded to love. This is doubly so if we remember that Christ defined neighbour as that which gives us life. But as we are commanded to Love, we ARE loved.

Fred Aspbury

Fred has been recently commissioned as an Authorized Lay Minister for St Chrysostom’s, with a work focus on ecology and creation.

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About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
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