Lection Connection

September 20, 2020: Wilderness/Outback Sunday

From Ray McGinnis

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began people in large metropolitan areas have noticed an increase in birdsong. A report out of the United Kingdom cited decreased traffic levels equal to those in 1955. A full 42% of Londoners noticed hearing birdsong for the first time in their respective neighbourhoods. 

In Canada, major cities such as Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, have seen air pollution levels drop by 40%. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air is predicting that in Europe there will be 11,000 fewer deaths due to these reduce pollution levels. And in China it is expected that between 50,000 and 75,000 people will live that would typically die in pre-pandemic air pollution norms. World Health Organization estimates that over 900,000 people have died this year from the COVID-19 pandemic. While in 2018 around 8,800,000 people died from dangerous air pollution levels. 

More people are walking in many countries during the pandemic. Closure of businesses and factories, and fewer vehicles on the road are all contributing to a cleaner, more breathable planet. 

Meanwhile, during the pandemic, citizens in many countries are encouraged to spend more time outdoors and to socially distance. One of the recommended activities in many nations is hiking. Participants can go with a friend or two and walk six feet apart or more as they plan a beginner, moderate, medium, or advanced hiking route. Unlike camping, which usually involves getting into a tent – which presents social distancing challenges – hiking is easy to negotiate. When you are outdoors and hiking, the air is fresh and constantly moving. There are often breezes and the environment greatly reduces the likelihood of catching COVID-19 from other hikers. 
For many people with fewer social options, and less possibilities for travel, sticking closer to home and going for a hike is a wonderful way to get close to nature.   

Explore… Romans 8:18–27

  • What is happening to creation in this scripture passage?
  • What signs indicate the decay of creation in our world today?
  • What signs indicate that creation is being liberated and renewed?
  • How have you, or might you, get closer to nature?
  • What aspects God’s creation have you been paying closer attention to lately?

God of creation, our earth is in a constant state of renewal. We hear news stories of wildfires, endangered species, and rising sea levels. In the midst of this frightening pandemic, air pollution levels are decreasing, which in turn has resulted in fewer deaths due to toxic levels of air pollution. Help us reflect on what we are discovering about living in creation as the world turns another year older. In Christ we pray. Amen. 

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