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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Advent thought 6: the environment and advent

I must be going nuts. Today my Advent reading was Psalm 85. What struck me were the following verses.
1. LORD, you poured out blessings on your land! You restored the fortunes of Israel...
9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory...
12 Yes, the LORD pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest... (NLT)

What struck me were the references to 'the land'. I had never thought of Advent and 'land' before. But the Psalmists hope is not just for salvation for a people but for a people-in-a-land. This is a very earthy hope. An 'eschatology' (if we can use that term broadly) with an environmental dimension. Not a hope for land per se but for land-as-habitation; for land-as-environment. This is not 'Deep Ecology'.

The hope is also not just for any people but for this people (Israel). It is not just for any land but for this land (the Promised Land). However, the symbolic connections between Israel and humanity as a whole, and between the Promised Land and the earth as a whole, allow for the Psalm's implications to ripple out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

Indeed the prophet who uttered the oracle in Isaiah 65:17ff saw the restoration of Israel in his land as indisolvably tied to the new creation and the salvation of the nations.

Christian hope grows from the hope of Israel-as-fulfilled-in-Jesus. His first coming and his second coming were tied to 'the redenption of Jerusalem' (Lk 2:25-32) and to the the salvation of the nations and the resurrection of the created order itself (Rom 8). Christian hope (realized in Christ) is about the rescue of both Jew and Gentile but not apart from their earthy environments. We are saved along with the whole creation. Ours is a gritty, earthy hope - a hope with soil and grass and grain.