Reflections from Pastor Steve

Love the World You Live In

You are stealing our future” Greta Thunberg is saying to anyone who will listen to her. She is the 16 year old Swedish environmentalist whose career began when her grade school teacher showed pictures of islands of plastic and garbage in the ocean. The image remained in her mind and at age 15 last summer she skipped school and sat outside the Swedish Parliament demanding it take immediate action to reduce carbon emissions.

Pity and bemusement met her by most who saw her sitting alone with her hand painted sign. Eight months later she had caught the world’s attention and sparked a youth movement.

This past week she was in Washington (she traveled from Sweden to the US in a sailboat) speaking to the Senate Climate Task force counseling: “Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it.”  She inspired a student walk out on Friday (September 20) calling attention to the dire need to address climate change before it is too late.

A poll by the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation found “solid majority of American teenagers are convinced that humans are causing the Earth’s climate to change and believe that it will cause harm to them personally and to other members of their generation.”  One in four high school youth have participated in a walk out, attended a rally or written a public official to express views on global warming, according to the poll.

The church is complicit when it fraudulently uses its faith to ignore or deny the scourge brought on by global warming, Christians don’t have the luxury of burying their head in the sand. We sing this hymn we love:

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears,

All nature sings, and round me rings,

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—

His hand the wonders wrought.”  (words by Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901)

The “music of the spheres” is in disarray because of climate change.  Scientists tell us the ecosystem’s interconnections are essential to the earth’s stability.  The “music of the spheres” is gagged when we foul the air, defile the rivers, lakes and oceans and despoil the soil. Ecological threats are becoming the norm: rising sea levels, floods, wildfires, extreme weather and crop failures.

We must act. Pray and act.  We must insist our government be honest about climate change and the ecological emergency we face. Carbon emissions must be reduced, excessive greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must be removed.  The poor and vulnerable can no longer be expected to pay the lion’s share of our negligence and failure to care for God’s good creation.

Humankind has squandered God’s gifts in days past, Speaking on God’s behalf,  Jeremiah proclaims “I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.”  (2:7)

The Psalmist gives us hope with a promise “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.”  (121:7-8)

Greta Thunberg and her many followers do inspire; but we must heed her words when she says of us “You are stealing our future,”  We must do our part caring for the creation described by God as “good.” (Genesis 1)  eschewing the evil of neglect, indifference and abuse. We can change habits: there is “no away”, so recycle; give the car a rest and walk; don’t waste water; replace standard light bulbs; compost, reduce consumption of meat and dairy and fix what can be repaired.

Verse 2: This is my Father’s world:

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,

He speaks to me everywhere.

Verse 3:  This is my Father’s world:

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the Ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let earth be glad!