“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
At a time when God’s chosen people had been conquered and their community broken, the prophet Isaiah holds out the promise that God will restore his wayward and chastened people. Yahweh will once again rescue them and bring them to himself as in days of old when they were rescued from slavery in Egypt to become God’s covenant people.
In the 11th chapter of Isaiah, the prophet paints an idyllic picture of a Utopian age when a righteous ruler brings consummate justice along with perfect peace. This king rules the world in such a way that the poor are treated with respect, the meek are given a fair hearing, and the wicked are vanquished. Inter-species violence effectively comes to an end and harmony ensues.
Christianity has interpreted this Old Testament text as a powerful prophetic vision of the just and peaceable Kingdom that has emerged in part and will fully come to fruition at the return of Christ. This vision is reminiscent of the Creation narrative in Genesis when all things were right with the world and God pronounced everything to be “good.” It was Paradise, Heaven on Earth in that lush Garden of Eden before sin and death entered into the world.
Further evidence of the harmony and peace to be found in this Kingdom is that a child will be able to lead creatures who were once violent mortal enemies, predators and prey. This not only speaks to the peace and security of this heavenly Kingdom, but also to the original design of humanity in God’s image and having “dominion” over every creature and all of creation.
Now here we are today in the year of our Lord 2023. The Utopian vision of complete justice and perfect peace is clouded with cataracts and mired in myopia (shortsightedness and selfishness). Homo sapiens (“Man the wise”) has so dominated the planet and all life upon it, that we are now living in an Anthropocene Epoch (the new age of man). Today’s world is a far, far cry from the Utopian vision of a restored Paradise, an idyllic Kingdom where justice, righteousness, peace and harmony rule the day. Indeed, the myriad existential crises that now plague the planet are so prevalent that one is left to wonder if we’ve broken the world so badly that it is beyond restoration.
We live today in a ‘Humpty Dumpty’ world teetering upon an unsteady brick wall of political divisiveness, tribal allegiance, social intolerance, ethnic bigotry, greed and avarice (and the list goes on…). Add to that the scorched earth of global warming that is the frying pan upon which Humpty lands, and you have a scrambled planet unlike anything that humanity has even experienced.
On Thursday of this week, May 18, the oft forgotten holy day marking Jesus’ ascension takes place. On Sunday the scripture reading from the 1st chapter of the Acts of the Apostles will recount that final parting of the risen Christ with his disciples and this finite planet. At that moment their world must have felt very scrambled. Some things don’t change over time. Like his disciples of old, his current batch of followers (a motley crew to be sure) are also left gawking into space with necks craned, waiting and wondering, hoping and praying that God’s Kingdom will yet come on earth as it is in Heaven.
In such a Humpty Dumpty world with the hope of averting a catastrophic climate meltdown teetering on the edge of the abyss, I was encouraged and uplifted to stumble upon the You Tube channel of a rather remarkable child living in Canada. His name is Robert, and you can visit his channel by clicking HERE.
It was after viewing a few of Robert’s videos that Isaiah’s vision of a little child leading all the creatures of a restored Creation came to mind. If we are to be faithful to the mission of Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice, we will do well to follow the lead of the Robert’s and Greta’s and other children/youth around the planet who are wise and bold beyond their years, true Children’s Climate Champions.
But not to leave my generation off the hook, before planting the final period on this post I direct you to a 2010 article from our friend and mentor, Nancy Corson Carter, who has been a true Eco-Warrior for decades. In it she reflects on her involvement with the 1990 PC(USA) Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice initiative; click HERE.