The Guardian newspaper recently launched a series that attempts to find a new way to tell the story of climate change. It’s a tough story to tell. Although climate change is the most pressing challenge our our time, the story itself is unfolding too slowly to create the drama that punctuates modern news.
We struggle to tell the story of climate change in the church as well. We understand the crisis is urgent, but the solutions seem diffuse and beyond our reach. We fail to recognize the great importance of bearing witness to the changes happening to God’s creation, and we struggle to claim the moral authority that seems to come more easily when we’re talking about issues like hunger and poverty.
[pull_quote_right]We understand the crisis is urgent, but the solutions seem diffuse and beyond our reach.[/pull_quote_right]
The Christian narrative has the potential to be a transformative tool in the great work of solving the climate crisis. As Christians, we recognize the ebbs and flows of life through the Exodus and the Promised Land. Each year, we journey triumphantly into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, suffer the despair of Good Friday, and celebrate the resurrection of Easter. Now we must apply the wisdom of those stories to the challenges of this day.
The climate crisis isn’t just an environmental crisis or a political crisis or an economic crisis–it is also an existential crisis. We are deep in the wilderness as we grapple with the gravity of the challenges ahead and despair over whether or not we can come together to avert the greatest risks. Every day is Good Friday for God’s creation as we watch the death of species and forests, as we experience the global weirding that brings record temperature highs to the Northwest, and drops catastrophic snow on New England.
[pull_quote_left]The Christian narrative has the potential to be a transformative tool in the great work of solving the climate crisis.[/pull_quote_left]
But our stories give us hope that the promised land is there, even if it’s beyond our line of sight. We must bring our sorrow to the foot of the cross, trusting that our grief over our loss and sense of powerlessness can help us connect with a love for God’s creation that can motivate us to action.
Holy Week is an opportunity to to remember that this world matters so much to God that God came to live with us in it, drinking water, eating food, and breathing air. It’s a time to bear witness to the death happening all around us, and to trust that resurrection is possible, even if we don’t know when or how it will come.
In the weeks after Easter, churches around the United States will celebrate Earth Day. It’s an opportunity to live out what it means to be Easter people, and use the narratives of our faith to help address the most pressing challenge of our time. Here are some great resources for planning your Earth Day observance.
Great Earth Day Resources
Fossil Free UMC: Annual conferences nationwide will consider legislation to amend the denomination’s socially responsible investing guidelines to screen fossil fuels from church investments this year. If your church hasn’t yet learned about the issue, you still have time! Resources including Bible study materials, discussion exercises and an intergenerational activity are available here.
Green Faith Book Study and Webinar: Want to learn more about the ways in which faith can inform our response to the climate crisis? Looking to start or revive a green team at your church? Gather a group to participate in a conference-wide book study of Green Faith: Mobilizing God’s People to Save the Earth by Rev. Fletcher Harper. Group leaders will have the opportunity to participate in a weekly webinar with Rev. Jenny Phillips to prepare them for their group meetings. Then on May 17 at 6:30pm, we’ll have a “Meet the Author” webinar where group participants can ask Rev. Harper questions and share their thoughts. Register here.
Creation Justice Ministries Earth Day Resource: Creation Justice Ministries (formerly the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program) publishes a terrific Earth Day resource each year, with preaching helps, worship materials and discussion starters. This year’s theme is, “Have You Anything Here to Eat?: Sustainable Food in a Changing Climate.” Download it here.
Climate Justice Seminar: The PNW Conference Board of Church and Society and UMW invite you to attend a Climate Justice Seminar May 12-15 in Washington, DC. Participants will learn about local watershed issues and emerging legislative issues from leaders at the General Board of Church and Society. For more information, contact Joan Hackett at revkeithjoan(at)hotmail(dot)com or Ann Eachus at ann(at)eachus(dot)org.