We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers. We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity. Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen. 1979 Book of Common Prayer
Another Earth Day (April 22) has come and gone. It is now May, the flowers are blooming and the trees are thickening each day with shades of green foliage. Robins hop around my front lawn in search of fresh worms after the recent spring shower and the finches are rebuilding their annual nest in the straw wreath that hangs by my front door. I can easily sit back and watch Mother Nature unfold. But I also realize that the seasons during this past year have been unusual. In 2011, Connecticut had over 4 feet of snow, in 2012 we had a few dustings. We had a week of 80-degree weather in March and the forsythia, magnolias, tulips and daffodils all blossomed 6 weeks earlier than usual.
Our environment is changing. Whether this is all God’s plan or not, we humans have responsibility for the care of the Earth, our garden home. We are currently facing extreme climate variability – the earth’s warming is occurring 10 times faster than had previously been estimated and the polar ice sheets are dropping at 10 meters per year. One of the qualities of leaders of the future will be to have “bio-empathy” – the ability to see things from nature’s point of view; to understand, respect and learn from nature’s patterns. Nature has its own clarity, if only we humans can understand and engage with it.
I believe it is the responsibility of our faith community to lead the way in teaching how to be good stewards of our environment. And it can start in our own churches, modeling good practices: recycling all bottles, cans and paper; not using Styrofoam coffee cups (better yet – use real dishes); using electronic means for communication; not relying on print paper for Sunday bulletins. Add your own ideas here.
The climate challenge is about respect for God’s creation. How could the wisdom of our Christian tradition help people engage with the dilemmas of extreme climate change? What is the carbon footprint (the contribution you are making to global warming) of your church? How can churches prepare to react with vision, understanding, clarity and agility in facing the challenge before us and future generations?
There aren’t easy answers and it’s not something we can each do on our own. But individual working together can make a difference. Check out these places to start:
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.
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Sharon Ely Pearson is the Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing and author of The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education, 3rd edition and Call on Me: A Prayer Book for Young People. You can follow her on Rows of Sharonwww.rowsofsharon.com
and Building Faith www.buildfaith.org
and Twitter @rowsofsharonp