Annual Autumn Cosmology Day
Supposing Him to be the Gardener: an Earth-Conscious Reading of the Fourth Gospel is the title of the book written by Dr. Margaret Daly-Denton, on which she based her presentation for our annual autumn cosmology day.
It was an interesting day which left the participants inspired, challenged and enthusiastic about reading the book and above all about how we might approach scripture in a new way.
Margaret spoke to us about how she has become interested in developing ways of reading the Bible that might help to see Earth-care and sustainable living as integral to our faith, how scripture is for all time, an inspiration for all generations and that today we are encouraged to read the text and interpret it from the perspective of the Earth as gift.
Margaret explored Jn. 20:15 showing how aptly Mary Magdalene recognised the risen Jesus as ‘the gardener’ completing his day’s work in the garden of the Earth. The Johannine story of Jesus offers his present day followers a paradigm with considerable potential to inspire earth care, sustainable living and commitment to eco-justice.
She gave a full interpretation of ‘In the beginning was the Word’. The Word she explained has no gender, that there are several interpretations from Greek and Latin and Hebrew as to the deeper meaning of this ‘Word’ - including Self-Expression, Plan/Dream, and Logos which denotes the male in scripture while Wisdom denotes the female.
In an eco-reading of John 6 it was amazing how the wisdom
of the entire group of participants was in tune with this method
of reading scripture. To mention just a few of the inspiring insights:
The disciples were more concerned with the economics of the situation of feeding the crowd
The young lad had the answer to the situation with his five bread rolls – made from barley – not wheat...
The boy’s lunch was taken and used for the group gathered...being small in Jewish tradition wasn’t always favourable
The location where the people were.. ‘there was plenty of grass.
….nothing was wasted.
The importance of gratitude for the gift of God’s abundance was highlighted and Margaret quoted the following in relation to the grace before/after food:
When people say grace with their entire being express it honestly and with considered appreciation for its deep theological and practical significance, they participate, however imperfectly, in the paradise of God. (Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating. Norman Wirzba. p180)
We looked at John 5 where Jesus heals the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda. Here Margaret brought out how God is the Creator and the One who sustains us in every situation. God is not one to ‘rest’ even on the Sabbath. His blessings are ongoing; God is continually creating and healing.
In John’s version of the ‘Good Shepherd’ in chapter 10 we examined the importance of ‘the way’ and Margaret referred to the shepherd as being ‘environmental’ in his approach to the sheep. And so with many other pieces of scripture - Proverbs 3:19; 8:22-31; Rom.1:20; the book of Job 39; the book of Wisdom,1:7; 8:1.
These insights were very much appreciated by the participants who found the whole experience very worthwhile, the presentation, the content, the choice of presenter, the homely relaxed and hospitable atmosphere and the easy interaction of the group. It was a day to remember, one that will stay with us, inspire us in days to come.