Creation and Advent

Creation and Advent

What does it mean for Jesus to be born into a world of ecological collapse?

Photo: A coral reef restoration project in Kenya, bringing hope for nature and local fishing communities (A Rocha Kenya)

How does the Advent season speak to a climate emergency and COP28? What does it mean for Jesus to be born into a world of ecological collapse?

By Dave Bookless, mission partner and director of theology for A Rocha International.

During Advent and Christmas, we celebrate God entering our messed-up world in Jesus, announcing God’s Kingdom of freedom, forgiveness and justice.

This Advent also sees COP28, the latest global climate conference, hosted by the United Arab Emirates.

So, what does it mean for Jesus to be born into a world of ecological collapse, with climate disasters causing immense suffering and deepening existing injustices, with desperate migrants and with politicians dragging their feet or lining their pockets?

I suggest we focus on who Jesus is, what he’s done and who he calls us to be.

Jesus is Creator: “Through him all things were made” (John 1:3). He knows the suffering of creation. Every melting glacier, dying coral reef, migrant boatload is intensely experienced by Jesus.

Secondly, Jesus is God incarnate: “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). That word “flesh” (sarx in Greek) deliberately includes not only people but animal flesh. It tells us that, in Jesus, the Creator became a creature. At Christmas, God identifies with a wounded creation, entering it to transform it.

Thirdly, Jesus came to rescue not only people but his beautiful yet damaged creation: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

The Christmas story is truly “Joy to the World” because the Creator entered our broken world so it might be “liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

As Jesus-followers, we are the children of God, adopted and called to participate in creation’s liberation.

Amid suffering and violence, we are called to shine through simpler lifestyles and compassionate action, serving and pointing to the Light of the World.

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