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by Chris Walton

'There was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance…the small hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was at hand, sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.'

(This moving epitaph to Katherine was written by her husband E B White, once a popular devotional writer. I have the quotes but not the reference - perhaps someone can help?).

March 20th 2004
In a month's time all Christians will be celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. To believe that God raised Jesus from the dead means to celebrate his life by living the same kind of life. Living the same kind of life as Jesus inevitably means upsetting the individual attitudes and corporate structures which maintain the status quo which dole out wealth, possessions and power for some, and oppression and no hope for many more. Stories of Christian discipleship, the world over, are stories of children, women and men seeking and creating hope for others, that is, plotting the resurrection.

In the space of a week or less Jesus broke bread with friends twice. The first time, before his death, he said, 'This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me' (Luke 22.19). Paul reminds us that if we do this we, 'proclaim the Lord's death until he comes' (I Corinthians 11.26). We too regularly break bread but if we leave this as a ritual in church or even round the agape table we bear the heavy responsibility of saying we believe but neglecting to proclaim the Lord's death until he comes, that is to live like him.

So this issue is about breaking bread. It is about food matters, it is also about the fact that food matters for if we are going to live like Jesus then we are plotting the resurrection, not in the sense of making it happen, but rather in the sense of joining with God in his world, living his ways whatever the consequences.

Christian discipleship means struggle with those consequences. It is about taking a 'bold glimpse into the heart of God' where 'the poet enables us to see that God notices how we live and is deeply troubled.' In his book about preaching and prophetic Christian discipleship, Finally Comes The Poet, Walter Brueggemann comments on the prophetic word in Jeremiah 5.25-28. 'If God has noticed so clearly that we act in destructive ways, then I also am free to notice - to stop the pretence. If God had not noticed then, I might usefully continue to pretend. But God has noticed.' 1
So breaking bread means also a changing lifestyle even in food matters. There's plenty of challenge and help and inspiration in this issue.

But we can't leave it there and Brueggemann can help us further: he proposes Leviticus 6.1-7 as a model to deal with the paralysis of our guilt in matters of lifestyle, and as a means to healing. 'The text knows that most of our distorted life concerns pushing and shoving the neighbour about goods which one has and another wants. The linkage between God and the violation of neighbour is found not only in Amos but also in Leviticus, not only in the rage of the prophets but also in the ache of the priests'. The violation is focussed on the pain, hurt and exploitation of taking what belongs to another, 'e.g. power relations in the family, robbing the value of another life by sexism, racism, or ageism. Or turn the metaphor to Central America and notice how well we live from food taken from the table of a peasant'.2

So food matters are a deeply spiritual issue. According to the Leviticus text, and of course our New Testament faith there are two things to be done about our guilt of living destructive lifestyles. The first is reparation, the second requires the action of God.

First then reparation: living by LOAF principles would be a good start. A few days ago the Government announced that production of GM crops was to be allowed in this country, albeit one type of maize with restrictions on its production to be announced later. Taking a bold glimpse into the heart of God concerning the use of GM technology in the power politics of world economics, let alone its safety and pollution of other crops would also be a good start. There are not always clear answers and inevitably and rightly so Christian discipleship involves struggle. Struggle to accurately identify the heart of God, and struggle to respond to his ways. So our main articles reflect that struggle, following LOAF principles (p. 6) involves considerable effort. We don't all agree (p. 8), so must at least consider all the arguments (p. 10). Alister McGrath telling the story of his own engagement with the study of the natural sciences points out his unease that 'all too often the study of nature all too often led directly to the pillage of nature'. 'What to me was an intellectually exhilarating adventure, born of a love of nature and a respect for its intrinsic complexity, was being corrupted into a means of exploiting that same nature for financial gain and the advancement of political goals'.3

After reparation there remains 'a weighty residue of ache that one cannot dispel by one's own actions.'4 The resolution of the guilt comes about in the availability of God who is required for reconciliation. For living like Jesus also involves the 'nation of priests' to make God available firstly by action and then by sacrament, a visible sign, a means of grace, wrought through the concreteness of human offering.

The second time Jesus broke the bread that week was somewhere along the Emmaus road. As he broke the bread his friends knew who he was, and were empowered to start a new journey, not now bewildered and despairing at the news of Jesus' death but plotting the resurrection themselves.
For notes 1-4 see page 16


Green Christian  

Green Christian is the main publication of Christian Ecology Link and exists to debate environmental matters in a Christian context. Please feel free to contribute articles, opinions and letters to the Editor .
    To obtain a copy of this issue see the end of this page.

No.70 Winter 2010 Food Justice

No.69 Summer 2010 Fossil Fools

No.68 Winter 2009 Consider the Lilies

No.67 Summer 2009 Civil Disobedience Holy Obedience?

No.66 Winter 2008 What are we doing to our Children?

No. 65 Summer 2008: A Sealed Fate

No. 64 Autumn/Winter 2007: Staying on the Edge

No.63 Summer 2007 : Storm of Hope

No.62 Winter 2006/Spring 2007 : Earth be Glad

No.61 Summer/Autumn 2006 : Gentle Footfall - Seismic Hope

No.60 Spring/Summer 2006 : Flavour and Fervour

No.59 Winter 2005-Spring 2006: Words made flesh

No.58 Summer/Autumn 2005 : A Call to Pray

No.57 Spring-Summer 2005 : Weep, Act, Pray

No.56 Winter 2004
Travelling lightly dilemmas

No.55 Summer 2004
Climate Change

No.54 Spring 2004
LOAF food matters

No.53 Winter 2003
Sustainable Development: challenging the language and the mindset
No.52 Summer 2003
Theology, spirituality & Operation Noah
No.51 Spring 2003       Militarism
No.50 Winter 02/03        Christian Perspectives on the World Summit

No.49 Summer 2002       Energy needs
No.48 Spring 2002       Buildings and Land Issue No.47 Winter 2001       Globalisation Issue No.46 Summer 2001       Lifestyles Issue No.45 Spring 2001       Science Issue No.44 Winter 00/01       Population Issue No.43 Summer 2000       Water Issue No.42 Spring 2000       Food Issue No.41 Winter 1999/2000  The churches' (slow) response to the environmental message, and the reasons behind this - issue No.40a Autumn 1999 Business and Money Issue

No.40 Summer 1999       Sustainable Development Issue

No.34 Autumn 1997


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