The Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care has created a Lent curriculum suitable for small groups and individuals that explores the climate crisis and ecological grief. With biblical reflections, activities and resources that are suitable for children, youth and adults, the curriculum recognizes that the biblical story is acquainted with climate anxiety, grief and the challenge of hope in bleak times.
The curriculum seeks to draw on that ancient wisdom and re-engage participants’ love for God’s creation and all of God’s creatures, not by providing a to-do list, but rather by providing a series of nurturing activities that can grow hope and help participants give voice to our collective grief and anxiety.
“Many of us are carrying grief and anxiety,” says Sylvia Keesmaat, one of the co-chairs of the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care. “We experience a deep grief for the loss of the creation that we love, and a deeper sense of anxiety for ourselves, our children, and the creatures that surround us, especially as the predictions around the climate crisis become more and more dire. It is exhausting and paralyzing to carry such a heavy burden of grief and anxiety.”
Written by Dr. Keesmaat, who is a biblical scholar, the curriculum, entitled “From Ecological Grief to Biblical Hope: A Lent Curriculum for all Ages,” will take in the whole sweep of the biblical narrative. Each week will focus on one part of the biblical story: Psalm 104 and cultivating love for our creational home; Noah and the first climate crisis; Jeremiah and creation’s undoing during times of war and conquest; Zacchaeus, colonialism, race and climate justice; Paul and learning to grieve faithfully; Revelation and learning to live with possibility.
Each week has a short reflection on the biblical text; questions to guide discussion or personal reflection; activities that are suitable for groups and individuals of all ages; suggestions for action; and further resources, such as books and videos, for those who wish to dig deeper. Options for both in-person and virtual activities are provided.
While there are actions that address individual lifestyles and consumption choices, there is also an acknowledgement that it is our larger infrastructure that must change. To that end, engaging wider-community actions that can change our systems are included, along with an emphasis on creating community-wide transformation in our churches and neighbourhoods.
“Lent is a time when we join Jesus in his walk to Jerusalem,” says Dr. Keesmaat. “That walk ended on the cross, but it also ended in new life. The hope of resurrection, of a world restored and renewed, animated all that Jesus did. That is the hope that permeates this curriculum as well.”
The curriculum will be available on the Creation Care web page at www.toronto.anglican.ca/creationcare from Feb. 1.
Sylvia Keesmaat is also offering a six-week Zoom course entitled “Eco-Anxiety and Biblical Wisdom: Torn Between Grief and Hope” for those who wish to delve even deeper into this topic. Go to www.bibleremixed.ca for more information.