God’s World, Our Home - Lent with the Methodist Youth President

09 March 2021

“God of the wilderness, as I journey through Lent, let me use this time to bring about change in my own life, and change in the world.”

For me, this prayer from All We Can summarises my journey through Lent this year. My theme as Youth President is God’s World, Our Home, which focuses on the Church’s response to the climate crisis. Whilst this is a really important issue to address all year round, the season of Lent provides an opportunity for me to think about it from a different perspective.

During Lent, the narrative of Jesus in the wilderness helps me to reflect on my own wilderness – the struggles I am facing, the stumbling blocks in my faith journey, and challenging myself to trust God through it all. I often find myself in the wilderness of climate grief. I am anxious about what the future holds for our planet, I am frustrated with the inaction and apathy of people in response to the climate crisis, and I mourn the damage already done to God’s good creation. I also recognise that my wilderness is a shared one, with many children and young people across our Church and the world experiencing this. But my wilderness is not the same as others – there are children and young people who are dealing with the effects of the climate crisis now: the droughts, the storms, the wildfires, the poor harvests. Their wilderness is not just metaphorical but is now becoming a reality they have to live in.

Journeying through Lent leads us to the festival of Easter – the celebration of the resurrection that epitomises Jesus’ sacrificial love for us all. Our call as followers of Christ to demonstrate that sacrificial love to others also shapes my attitudes towards the climate crisis. It is those who are the poorest and those who live in the global south that will be the most affected by the climate crisis, despite doing little to cause it. I feel called to show sacrificial love to those children and young people living through the wilderness of droughts, storms, wildfires, and poor harvests. I show my love to them by making personal lifestyle choices – what I buy, what I wear, how I travel, what I eat, how I vote. Why do I consider it sacrificial love? Because, whilst I absolutely recognise my privilege in being able to make choices about how I live my life, I think there is an element of sacrifice in trying to live a greener lifestyle, both as individuals and as a society. If we are to truly respond to the climate crisis, we must have a complete change in how we live. I think we will have to sacrifice our consumerist, convenience lifestyle to one of sustainability and simplicity.

But Lent is a journey – in fact, I see it as a leg of our faith journey and I am on a journey of green activism. I definitely don’t describe myself as an expert in living green, in climate science or activism, nor would I claim to be an expert in theology. Which is why I am using the Lent season in 2021 to learn more about my faith and about the planet. Over on my Instagram account, I am doing a God’s World, Our Home series, which follows my journey of learning over Lent and encouraging others to do so too. I’m also taking up a Change Begins challenge, inspired by All We Can’s Lent theme of Challenge and Change, of doing a litterpick every day of Lent. Whilst this is a small act to help the environment, I hope it shows something of Jesus’ sacrificial love to my community.

Finally, I want to encourage you to look at how you respond to the climate crisis. How is God calling you to show the sacrificial love of Jesus to others? Consider what you could do to show sacrificial love to those living in the wilderness of climate change – not just for Lent, but as part of our prayerful, spiritual Christian practise.

Phoebe Parkin
Methodist Youth President