The Glasgow Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is off and running. There are speakers who are experts in climate change science with data on how we are doing as a world community in controlling climate change. National leaders are present as the goals and action plan continue to be addressed and decisions made. Youth of the world remind us of the urgency of halting climate change and even reversing it in situations where it is not too late
The whole issue of climate change seems overwhelming. Since the Industrial Revolution, we have been travelling on this path of opting for living conditions that are not good for the planet and all of creation. Now we face the effects on people’s health, water, land, and all life that shares this planet with us. We see the effects of stronger storms, more wildfires, the increased frequency and devastation of hurricanes, and continued land erosion.
God gives us the most beautiful cathedral in which to live and worship. In Isaiah 66:1 we hear the worship God demands, “Thus says the Lord: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is my resting place?” The earth belongs to God who has entrusted humanity to care for its creatures, land, and water.
Some would say, “There is nothing we can do, it is all in God’s hands. God is in control,” and use this as a blanket excuse to dismiss the issue. I am not sure how this became the ticket to ignore the issue, but for some it has. God is in control, but God has also entrusted an enormous amount of control to people though free will. God has given us the ability to choose how we act and to live with the blessings or the consequences. God has also given us wisdom to make wise decisions or foolish decisions, and that includes how we live with one another and all creation on this planet.
There are some basic values that we live by at Holy Trinity. They speak to our role in creating a future for our children, grandchildren, and all people. One of our values is Radical Hospitality. Living this value includes a hearty, genuine extension of welcome to guests and reaching out to one another as siblings in Christ, children of the same God. So, we connect with the community and the world with the love of Christ. What does that look like as we care for the planet and its inhabitants for the next generations? We are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. We may think that when it comes to climate change, we are clumsily making our way, not sure what to do, how to do it, and wondering what my little portion of recycling, changing lightbulbs, and changing diet can do for the future of the world. They are all steps, important steps. Once we have those behaviors as part of our lives, we can add more. It all makes a difference.
Our efforts, no matter how small we think they are, also can be described as actions of Intentional Compassion, another value of Holy Trinity. As we try to reduce our carbon footprint, we are also indirectly helping reduce the footprint in the world. India and other countries have had clean water shortages. Some parts of the world have seen climate change cause people to move or flee the only home they have known because the land is no longer useful to make a living or produce food. The number of climate refugees continues to increase.
Some of you may remember when cigarettes were a leading product and tobacco companies were influential, denying that there were any health consequences to smoking. Over many years of research and data to prove smoking is harmful, change happened. We are seeing a similar pathway with coal and other forms of dirty energy.
God continues to call us as God called the first humans in the garden to be stewards of the planet, to be creation caregivers so that our children and grandchildren can live quality lives. We are all connected to each other and need people all around the world to work together in sharing God’s love in the effort to have life for all.
We thank God for the skills of scientists who see the climate issues now and alert the world to the changes needed or the consequences we will experience. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe commented that the planet will always be around. The uncertainly is if people will be. That is up to us. Our Holy God gives us the choice of what this planet will be like for the next generations. We pray for God’s guidance in leading all of us to faithful living.
Pastor Pam Schroeder