Flourishing with creation

October 26, 2022 | News
Annika Krause | Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal
Montreal, Que.
A group shot of Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal congregants at their fall retreat. (Photo by Yeabsra Agonfer)

Earlier this fall, members of the Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal had the chance to escape the bustle of the city and submerge ourselves in nature. For the first time in three years, we were able to do an in-person retreat, and we were blessed to have as our speaker Wendy Janzen, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s eco-minister.

When I initially asked her in January if she would be a guest speaker on a Sunday morning, she told me that she had so many supportive churches inviting her to speak that her next availability was in September. So, with fingers crossed and silent prayers sent up, I thought I would ask her to be our retreat speaker instead. It worked.

Janzen spoke on reading the Bible with an ecological lens and thinking about our place in creation. It was evident, both through her words and the passion with which she spoke them, that she believes deeply in God’s desire for the natural world to flourish.

She spoke to us about “the book of creation,” the idea that nature reveals many things about God that we cannot see if we only worship indoors or if we have an anthropocentric (or egocentric) view of creation.

The natural world worships God with us, and points us towards the Creator, she said. Nature is holy. It is God’s throne. It talks to us about symbiosis and shalom.

During times for reflection, she invited us to open our eyes, ears and hearts to what the land around Parkside Ranch in Magog, Que., had to reveal to us, and it wasn’t silent.

In the two speaking sessions and the Sunday morning service, Janzen seamlessly wove together scholarly theology, poetry, personal stories and, of course, Scripture. She showed how the pursuit of faithful living involves being considerate of the natural world around us.

Turning to our understanding of Scripture, Janzen encouraged us to not just cherry-pick the “green passages” from the Bible when thinking about biblical environmentalism, but rather to be aware that “the meta-narrative of the Bible assumes that humans live in mutuality with the natural world.”

Jesus frequently used the natural world in his parables. Biblical poetry is lush with greenery. We have many examples of how nature and faithful living intertwine. And, as people of the book, Janzen encouraged us to do what we can to help God’s world flourish.

A group shot of Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal congregants at their fall retreat. (Photo by Yeabsra Agonfer)

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