After last summer, you can’t deny it. It’s here. It was the driest year in France and it’s been like that for several years. So you can see people are becoming more aware of climate change. Now it is beginning to affect them.
And yet there is still so much more to talk about.
This should be a top of the list issue. It really affects every aspect of our lives and it’s not just about creation; it’s about we who live in this creation. It’s about our neighbours beside us and those who live around the world.
Right now, we are making choices that have the potential to shift things one way or another.
In my work with LightclubberZ, an arts ministry of Joie et Vie, we don’t just talk about climate change, we make art about it.
Association des Eglises Evangéliques Mennonite de France collaborates with other churches in France on this mission agency. My work is with young people – teenagers and young adults. Using dance, music, livepainting, theatre and stomp, we make art that shares the good news.
Although our creations can be quite complex, I have recently become very influenced by the concept of simplicity. I encountered it through reading La sobrieté heureuse (happy simplicity) by secular environmentalist Pierre Rabhi. But then, of course, I also found it as a central message from Jesus: do not accumulate wealth; look at the birds, look at nature; look how God provides; stay limited to what you need, not have more superficial things (Matthew 6:19-34). This is a big theme in the gospel and the Bible.
As a Mennonite, I connect a lot with that topic. Unfortunately, although it’s rooted in the Bible and Anabaptist theology, we don’t really have it as part of our daily practice.
So with the young people in LightclubberZ, we wrote a song together about simplicity.
French engineer Jean Marc Jancovici points out the technical problems of climate change are not the difficult part. It is the cultural aspects that are challenging: changing people’s hearts and minds, or simply changing their habits.
Through songs, dances, and artwork, the young people in Lightcluberz are learning to change the way they see. One of the strengths of art is that it helps us to receive information through other doors. Instead of receiving through our minds, we learn through our bodies, our hearts, our feelings.
Shaping values in community
Following our Mennonite convictions, we bring people together in a small community where values can be shaped. Bringing people together to make art is a way to see God’s kingdom come in our midst.
God doesn’t need us but God invites us to participate in God’s work in the world. When I do my work with LightclubberZ, I feel like I am helping participate in God’s work at all levels.
We are social animals, we need the influence of others around us. We really see changes in people’s lives when we have an experience of living together, not just we meet we do a show and go back home. Through our summer camps or our tours, when we live as a community for days or weeks together. After the confinement experiences with COVID, it was so obvious how much we need real relationships in order to be influenced in a right way. We need the church and real community of real people to move closer to what Jesus asks from us.
The Bible was really ahead of our time. Anabaptist theology interprets the whole story as one of seeking shalom. The gospel is not just at the level of individuals, not even just at the level of community but also at the level of all God’s creation. That theme of shalom is there from the very beginning of creation – and it includes the natural world as well as humans.
That’s a prophetic message we have to bring to a world where everything is about the individual.
Our motto at LightclubberZ is “Faire du beau pour faire du bien”: make beauty, in order to do good. God set the example for us in creation and Jesus continued to show us how to live that out. Let us work at this together.
—Ephraïm Goldschmidt is a member of the Mennonite church in Altkirch and director of LightclubberZ with Joie et Vie. He lives in Mulhouse, France.