I’ve just given this butterfly, which I’ve made out of recycled hardboard in my garage, as a leaving present to thank the members of the congregation who supported me in the four years that I have worked there.
This year has been Climate Year there and butterflies have played a large part. Butterflies are beautiful but fragile creatures and vulenerable to many of the effects of climate change. They are also an ancient Christian symbol of resurrection. The caterpillar “dies” but it is transformed within the tomb of the chrysalis to be reborn as something new and beautiful.
This particular model is based on the Large White which I regard as a symbol of hope.
The species became extinct in the United Kingdom in 1979 largely due to intensive agriculture reducing the areas of unimproved grassland in which it thrived. Scientific studies revealed the exact nature of the problem and allowed conservationalists to plan for its reintroducition. Today the butterfly breeds at 33 sites across the South West of England. (The full story is actually more complex and wonderful and you can read about it at this link.) The hope in this story is clear, if we want to change things, are prepared to listen to what is required, and then act on that understanding, then we can.
Inspired by this I made a much larger model with a wingspan of nearly 4m to take up to the demonstration of public concern that was held on the middle Saturday of the recent CoP 26 meeting in Glasgow. Before that, it was suspended in the Church throughout our recent eco-festival as a symbol of the need for Christians to join with the rest of the world’s popualtion in holding our governments to account over what they are doing to our planet and its people and how they plan to change this.
Unfortunately I’d forgotten that it was likely to be windy in Glasgow in November and it was unsafe to unfurl our butterfly on the march in the midst of over 100,000 people. We did manage to give it a flutter at Glasgow Green at the end of the march where there was a little more space.
After we returned I preached a sermon about the Christian requirement to hold our government to account in this way and shared some pictures of the march. You can watch it on this video clip below if you’d like to. It’s based upon Micah 4:1-5:
1 In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
2 and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
5 For all the peoples walk,
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
for ever and ever.