Saying yes to life is the book commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury for Lent 2020, and written by Tearfund’s Director of Advocacy and Influencing, Dr Ruth Valerio.
“Lent is a time for us to focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection, and our reconciliation and atonement with God through his sacrifice. This year, I hope you might spend some time thinking about our reconciliation with God’s creation as we explore the creation story of Genesis 1 together. Ruth Valerio’s book is perfect for individuals and groups to think, reflect, pray and be challenged together.” Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury
Caring for the Earth is a more vital issue than ever. Extreme weather events, failed harvests, mass species extinctions.
I always find it perplexing when people dismiss the Bible as irrelevant to current issues. The way we treat creation is one of the crucial topics of our time, and the Bible addresses it from its very first lines. This is the idea at the heart of Saying yes to life – the timely new book from Ruth Valerio. Drawing from the creation story in Genesis 1, the book brings together biblical principles with some of today’s most pressing issues. Each chapter reflects on one of the days of creation and the things – including people – that God created on that day, before finally looking at sabbath rest.
Inside the book you’ll find diverse contributions from places Tearfund works across the world, along with prayers and discussion points to help you reflect over Lent. The book could be a great resource for church small group discussion, or could help you put together a thought-provoking series of sermons. There are also accompanying resources online, such as how to set up a prayer room on the issues covered.
A creating God
We rightly focus a lot in the church on worshipping a saving God – a God of redemption. However, we miss out on an important aspect of God if we forget that he is also a creator. Salvation and creation go hand-in-hand.
The book highlights this by offering a fascinating comparison between the Genesis creation story and the creation story of the Babylonians, the Enuma Elish, which would have been one of the dominant narratives in the ancient Near-East. The picture that we get in our Bible, compared to this other story, is of one supreme God, who doesn’t have to battle demons, goddesses or other strange creatures. God simply speaks and the world comes into being, and he does this seemingly out of pure joy: ‘he saw that it was very good’. (Genesis 1:31)
And, of course, we are part of that goodness. We mustn’t forget that God’s beautiful creation includes us. We cannot tackle poverty without thinking about the air that people breathe, the seas they fish in, the lands they live and farm off. People and planet, wealthy and poor – we are all interconnected.
This is the message of Ruth’s new book, and it’s a message we all need to hear.