Today’s entry is part of a periodic series of observations about changes in the world’s climate that will affect all of us, old and young alike. The series bends toward a key question: As God’s people, what can we think or do about these matters? Today’s entry goes to the heart of the matter: This has to do with our faith lives!
It can be comforting to worship during Advent….
If you’re at all familiar with this season’s themes, you’re probably wondering if this statement proves that I’ve lost my Advent marbles. Coming straight at my emotions, Advent memes range from the mildly frightening to the downright despairing—the end of time, the Last Judgement, calamities, wars, pestilence and warnings about wrong-headed lifestyle choices. Not the stuff of calm and comfort.
But when I rummage around in the texts for Advent Sundays—looking for reasons to be hopeful—I can find other, smaller bits and pieces of thought that help put this season into perspective. Here’s an important one that came my way the First Sunday of Advent: The themes of this season of the church year connect with the idea of climate change.
That Sunday I was thinking about the *Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) that was released to the public recently. My mind wandered into positive territory when I heard the following texts read. Good News words….
Some of the places where my meandering stopped for awhile:
• “I promise that the time will come when I will appoint a king from the family of David, a king who will be honest and rule with justice.” (Jeremiah 33:15 CEV) When it comes to reversing the effects of climate change, the world could use all the honesty and justice we can get. There’s hope in God’s promise.
• “Now when these things [horrific events, some of them related to climate] begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28 NRSV) Rescue is still possible—God’s all about saving us, somehow!
• “Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.” (Luke 21:33 The Message). The comfort? Some really, really important things will outlast the world itself. When I get down about environmental decay, that assurance feels good.
Where I’m going with this train of thought: The Scriptures—in this case, those associated with Advent—have a lot to say about what we’re facing because of climate change. Saying that another way: It feels to me that spiritual matters lie at the heart of what happens to the environment. I’m not going to preach a long sermon here, but I think I’m right about this: If sin(s) like greed and selfishness help poison or ruin the environment, then God-given attitudes and traits can be part of the solutions we’re looking for. Ideas and behaviors like confession, repentance, love for others, care for Creation, respect for all life, ministry and courage.
Later in these conversations I want to explore some of other spiritual matters that live inside of me, but for now I just want to insert this small thought into your own mind—just in case you’ve been brooding about the NCA: Those of us blessed with the wisdom of the Word of God and surrounded in our gatherings by other saints—we may understand climate change in profound ways that could be helpful to others.
That feels comforting, too….
(Coming next: Climate Conversation 4: Anyone listening?)
*You can find the 4th National Climate Assessment at www.nca2018.globalchange.gov. I started my exploration with the Introduction for Volume II.