A Faithful Response to Climate Change

A Faithful Response to Climate Change

I need to make a confession: I worry about the climate crisis daily but I am hesitant to talk about it. I don’t want to offend someone by making what may be categorized as a political statement. I certainly don’t want to argue with someone about climate data because the science is complex. And honestly, it is overwhelming, even terrifying, to consider the full effects of the change to our planet that has been set in motion.

But sometimes all it takes is someone you trust saying that a seemingly controversial issue is important and deserves our attention. I was encouraged earlier this week when the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the Anglican Communion, joined with Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church issued a joint statement on climate change. The leaders of the three largest Christian denominations, who have multiple theological disagreements with each other, agree that climate change requires urgent prayer and action globally from the Christian church. They warn, “Nature is resilient, yet delicate. We are already witnessing the consequences of our refusal to protect and preserve it. Now, in this moment, we have an opportunity to repent, to turn around in resolve, to head in the opposite direction.” You can read their full joint statement here. 

The leaders of over 1.5 billion Christians are jointly calling us to renew our commitment to the stewardship of creation, to care for those who are already experiencing poverty and displacement due to environmental degradation, and to repent of consuming more of the earth’s resources than the planet can endure. The challenge ahead of us can feel overwhelming but if the extreme weather conditions and magnified natural disasters we are now experiencing are any indication of what the future holds for us, we have to respond with urgency.

How can Christians change the conversation around climate change? We need to unite in prayer for the world and for the strength to make the necessary changes. And we need to talk about it! Texas Tech Atmospheric Scientist and Evangelical Christian Katharine Hayhoe said in her popular 2018 TED Talk, “The number one thing we can do to change the cycle we are in is to talk about.” We need to talk from the heart about why it matters to us in order to move others to action. 

For me, in know that my passive acceptance of practices that destroy the environment goes against my Christian convictions that we are called to steward the earth so that humanity flourishes. And yet, by silence and inaction, I accept a future with greater injustice for an ever-increasing number of people because it seems impossible to reverse our course.  I am waiting for someone else to say something — to do something — to save us. Occasionally, I allow myself to look at the predications of what will happen if we do nothing, where in my children’s lifetimes they may become climate refugees because the place where we have called home becomes uninhabitable. It’s unbearable to know that this is the inheritance that I would leave for them if I stay silent.

So friends, it is not too late! Even the most doom and gloom climate reports tell us it is not too late to avoid the worst to effects of climate change. We have to make personal sacrifices and, with generosity and conviction, call others to join us. We need to demand better of government and industry because 71% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by just 100 global companies and we will not be able to make substantial change by just changing our own habits of consumption. And we need to pray for changed hearts and minds, for boldness to speak and courage to reject our old ways, for injustice to be cast down, and for God to come to our defense and redeem what we have destroyed. 

I invite you pray the collect for the Stewardship of Creation from the Book of Common prayer and to use your voice and your influence to join other Christians in advocating for a faithful response to the threat of climate change. We need to raise our voices and use our influence, joining with other Christians for the sake of the world. 

O merciful Creator, your loving hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence, and give us grace to honor you with all that you have entrusted to us; that we, remembering the account we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.