As human beings, particularly when things are plentiful and prosperous, we are often guilty of the sins of materialism and over-consumption, sins which have directly resulted in the degradation of God’s good creation, structural inequality, and the inequitable sharing of natural resources.
Perhaps an obvious place to observe such inequity is in food security and nutrition. The United Nation’s World Food Programme estimates that one in nine human beings live with food insecurity and malnutrition – that’s over eight hundred million fellow human beings. The Programme also observes that there is a direct link between food insecurity and climate change, with climate change being one of the biggest drivers of food insecurity in the world today. Here in Australia, we are blessed with a food security that is driven, in part, by our prosperity and by a climate that allows for fresh, Australian-grown fruits and vegetables the year round. Ninety percent of the fruit and vegetables sold in our grocery stores and markets are domestically grown (compare this to less than twenty percent in my home country of Canada). Thus, in places like Australia, it is easy for us to forget God’s goodness and to take our own food security for granted.
Thus, in our gratitude, in our thankfulness for the bounty we enjoy, we need to take care and to remember those eight hundred million humans who are experiencing hunger and famine through food insecurity and our moral obligation as Christians to do something about it.
And of course, one of the ways that we can combat food insecurity is by caring for God’s good creation by working to reverse the impact of climate change. So, on this harvest festival Sunday, we recommit ourselves to a posture and practice of gratitude where we take care and we remember, we remember that God’s good creation is meant to be shared equitably, ethically, and sustainably.
The Revd Canon Dr Bob Derrenbacker is Frank Woods Associate Professor in New Testament & Dean of Trinitty Theological School, the University of Divinity, in Melbourne.