Sing a new song, for God has done wonderful things! Sing to God all the earth, sing praise and songs of joy! Let the oceans roar and all the creatures that live within it give praise! (Psalm 98 adapted)
The purpose of World Oceans Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.
The oceans are the lungs of our planet and a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere. The ocean connects, sustains and supports us all. Yet its health is at a tipping point and so is the well-being of all that depends on it. As the past years have shown us, we need to work together to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and bring it new life.
The ocean covers over 70% of the planet. It is our life source, supporting humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on earth. The ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. Not to mention, the ocean is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.
Even though all its benefits, the ocean is now in need of support. With 90% of big fish populations depleted, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished. To protect and preserve the ocean and all it sustains, we must create a new balance, rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity relates to it. We must build a connection to the ocean that is inclusive, innovative, and informed by lessons from the past.
What are the issues for us in our land ‘girt by sea’. How do we reflect on our divine role as caretakers of God’s Creation? How might we advocate on behalf of the well-being of the oceans? What might we learn from Aboriginal people about the way they care for the ocean?
In news this week, there is a report about the decision by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema) giving Santos approval to drill up to eight wells off the northern beaches of the Tiwi Islands. Munupi senior lawman Dennis Tipakalippa is challenging that decision in the federal court saying he and his community were never consulted about the drilling. ‘We spend a lot of time out in the water – hunting, fishing. We only ever take what we can eat in a day, no more. We respect our homelands, our sea country and it looks after us. Santos should have respected us and consulted in the proper way’. Read more here.
Rev. James Bhagwan, General Secretary for the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), says “the Pacific is on a journey of self-determination, reclaiming itself as a large “liquid continent” and people connected by the ocean. The impact of climate change in the Pacific is profound. Land and sea are bound to culture and a sense of belonging”.
“We understand the ocean does not separate us. It’s what connects us. So we recognise that the ocean is our home and part of who we are. And we have seen terms now develop that are about the Liquid Continent, about the Blue Pacific, or the Blue Continent, recognising that the Ocean is part of who we are. It’s part of our identity”.
“In most traditional Pacific Island cultures, the self does not exist. We exist in community. We exist as part of the natural environment, which is the land, the sea, the sky, and all creation. Our traditional spirituality is a creation-centred spirituality”. (Read more here)
Pacific Council of Churches Facebook page
Swirling God, who at the dawn of creation swept over the face of the waters, hover over our oceans and all waterways with your blessed presence.
May each droplet of mist and sea be clean and fresh for all life who come in contact with these holy streams.
Bless each cell and molecule of life below the surface of the waters who trust in you and us to create a prosperous world.
Continually nudge us to nurture creation, joining together with humans all over this planet to covenant with one another and celebrate the gifts of water, air, fire, and land that you have given us. Amen.
(Source: Michelle L. Torigian, God goes pop)