As we journey through Lent towards Easter and Earth Day we hope that these words may enlighten or speak to you in some way. This column will be presented weekly.
In 2016 the United Methodist Women commissioned the publication of the book Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, an illuminating and wide-ranging look at an issue they had been studying for several years.
Chapter 2, “A Biblical Model of Climate Justice” was written by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany. In this chapter Wenner approaches the issue of climate justice through four verses of scripture. First, we look toward the creation story in Genesis which remind us that we are created as part of the whole. We are to balance the two tasks of tilling the earth and keeping the earth (Genesis 2:15) and copy the care and love of our Creator in doing so.
Secondly, Wenner refers to Psalm 104, a psalm of praise for creation. “If we see Christ in all that is created and if we understand ourselves as part of the family of nature, it will impact our worldview, our spiritual practice, the worship life of our congregations, and our lifestyle.” In 2009 the Council of Bishops wrote “God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action” as a pastoral letter to the churches in response to the creation crisis. “God’s creation is in crisis. We, the Bishops of The United Methodist Church, cannot remain silent while God’s people and God’s planet suffer. This beautiful natural world is a loving gift from God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen. God has entrusted its care to all of us, but we have turned our backs on God and on our responsibilities. Our neglect, selfishness, and pride have fostered pandemic poverty and disease, environmental degradation, and the proliferation of weapons and violence.”
Thirdly, Wenner looks at Revelation 21 and asks us to read this as a wake-up call to rethink our lifestyles. The aim of God is new life, not devastation. We are to be God’s coworkers by taking action with our lives towards peace, justice, and reconciliation. In the 2009 letter the council reminded us that as we respond to God’s call to action, the Holy Spirit will guide us.
Fourth, we are to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). We are not the owners of the world, but rather stewards. John Wesley, in Sermon 51, describes this stewardship – “… A steward is not at liberty to use what is lodged in his hand as he pleases but as his master pleases …” The lifestyle of humbleness is hard in today’s world where we constantly hear about economic growth and less about the practice of having enough.
So where do we go from here? How has the church universal responded to the pastoral letter from 10 years ago? Have we built coalitions for political and economic change? Change is not impossible and we must develop healthier and more sustainable options as we till and keep the earth.
“Many little people, in many little places, taking many little steps, can change the face of the world.” - African proverb
Please visit https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/ for more information about the work of the UMW throughout the world. If you are interested in reading this book, please let us know. Copies are available.
Lynn Speno, Glenn Environmental Committee