WHAT IS OUR HOPE TODAY?
A Sermon by Tsobotsi Toby Koloti for Youth Day: Romans 5;1-8
What is our HOPE today? In the midst of COVID 19, GBV, Death, Online learning, environment degradation, what is our Hope? Where does our help come from in times like these? I think we need not to look far for answers, our Anglican Prayer Book answers these existential questions in our Catechism. We all remember those questions we had to answer in our confirmation classes, “What are we by nature?” “What does it mean to be created in the image of God?” “What help is there for us?” “What do we learn about God as a creator of heaven and earth?” “what does this mean about your place in the creation” “what does this mean about human life?”
What does the Prayer Book (Catechism) say?
We are part of God’s creation, made in the image of God.
It means we are free to make choices; to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.
Our help is in God.
We learn that there is one God, the creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
This means that the environment is good, that it is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains and directs it.
It means that creation belongs to its creator, and that we are called to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance with God’s purposes.
It means that all people are worthy of respect and honour, (and dare I say regardless of their gender, race, class, ethnicity or sexuality) because all are made in the image of God.
Our hope and help come from an understanding of two fundamental relational principles: a) a reverence for life must go beyond anthropocentricism and must include ecological insights; and b) the oppression of women and the oppression of nature are interconnected.
We cannot understand the relationship between humanity and God without understanding and transforming the relationship between humanity and creation. We cannot understand the relationship between humanity and creation without understanding and transforming the relationship between men and women.
The ways of thinking that have led to a destruction of the earth and an exploitation of animals are often the very ways of thinking that have led to an exploitation of women/marginalised people in the world. To overcome male-centeredness is also to overcome human-centeredness.
The oppression of women and the oppression of nature are interconnected
One way to talk about the connections between women and nature is to describe the parallel ways they have been treated in a patriarchal society.
First, the traditional role of both women and nature has been instrumental. Women’s role has been to serve the needs and desires of men. Traditionally, women were not considered to have a life except in relation to a man, whether father, brother, husband, or son. Likewise, creation or nature has provided the resources to meet human needs for food, shelter, and recreation.
Nature had no purpose except to provide for human wants. In both cases the instrumental role led to instrumental value. Women were valued to the extent that they fulfilled their role. This reminds me of the Masters project by one of my colleagues where she poses the question: “Was her worth only in her womb?” Where she argues that women’s bodies are controlled by patriarchal culture through heteronormative readings of certain biblical texts such as Revelations 12:1-6, which is usually used to celebrate motherhood. She calls this a Christianized patriarchy which aims at making patriarchy look attractive and legitimate and thus regulates how we today view female bodies.
Nature was valued in relation to human interests either in the present or the future. Women and nature had little or no meaning independent of men. This type of attitude towards women and creation is not in line with Paul’s Hope that leads to grace.
This hope which is a result of good character can only be achieved or realized through a life that is surrounded by grace. The type of grace that is not marked by earthly successes at the expenses of nature, at the expenses of women. It is a type of hope that does not condone any violence against women and girls. It is a kind of hope that does not tolerate any patriarchal rule, capitalism or consumerism which is at the heart of our earth degradation. As with any Hope or Vision of a good society, it requires you and I to buy into it.
In short, what feminist theological ethics encourage us to do is to recognize that a better hope for the world can only be understood through the three fundamental relationships we ought to give the highest care. These three relationships are: — between human beings and the nonhuman world, between human beings and God, and among human beings — all defined by an ethic of care and dignity. What we must see is that the way in which human beings treat each other has an implication on these other relationships. What we must remember is that no one or two of these relationships will be transformed without the transformation of all three. Thus, the access to true faith with Christ imbedded in Grace, has a password which is ‘transformation’.
THAT IS OUR HOPE AND THE GRACE WHICH WE LEARN ABOUT IN TODAY’S READING.
I said it before; I’ll
say it again. I’m not an environmentalist. You will not hear me
advocating any kind of compulsory restrictions on people’s enjoyment of God’s
creation. However, what you’ve heard today and what you will CONTINUE to
hear is a person of God imploring you to CHOOSE to perform one of the primary
jobs God placed people here to perform: caring for God’s creation the way God
would care for it, the way God showed us throughout scripture to care for it.
Choose to participate in God’s desires and efforts to care for creation
in such a way that creation can continue to care for people for generations to
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss my opportunity to go and do my part.
Although you have not seen him, yet you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believed in Him. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with us now, see us through this pandemic, and forever, Amen.