Were you there last Friday during the protests downtown? Did you hear the crowd? Did you see masses of people descend from all over the province into downtown Vancouver to make their voices heard about climate change the state of emergency in our planet? I know of many people who came from Kelowna, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands to make their voices heard. A colleague of mine sent me a picture he took of the crowd from Cambie street. His caption read: “Our kids are screaming at us for change . . . When will we listen?”
The state of emergency with climate is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer. We only have one Island home. People are hungry and dying, plants and vegetation are wilting, politicians are arguing over who is going to build a pipeline or how many airplanes are reasonable for an election campaign. There seems to be a disconnect in the conversation. Did you hear the speech by Greta Thunberg as she addressed world leaders at the UN climate action summit in New York? Our children are screaming at us, when will we listen? Climate and the economy are always politically and emotionally charged topics especially in an election year.
Our news and talk shows are dominated these days with public debates as each candidate and party proudly proclaims that they and their party have the best interests of the climate and citizens at heart. Meanwhile, meanwhile our planet gets warmer and too many species become more threatened as they creep closer to extinction. Sometimes it does take the voice of children and the vulnerable for us to wake up and pay closer attention. As Isaiah says, “and a little child shall lead them” (Is 11: 6). There is a sense of urgency, now more than ever before, to make effective, meaningful and real change in our habits, life style and footprint on the environment. We need leaders who will be able to share more than words, but follow through with effective change.
“By the rivers of Babylon - there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion” (Ps. 137: 1). What I particularly love about the psalms is the raw, uncut and unfiltered emotion that resonates off the page. We get the privilege of reading and hearing the inner turmoil, joy, pain and grief of a lived experience. This is writing that is happening in the moment, not years after the fact when cool sober second thought can produce a more reasoned account. No, this is a cry of a people who are in the midst of great anxiety and turmoil and they are crying out to God for help and deliverance. Our children are weeping as we too live in the midst of turmoil and the lived reality of climate change. This past week has been where thousands have added their songs and stories of lament.
We too, as a church and people cry for better days and deliverance from overwhelming concern about the care of our world. We too remember when our climate and weather was different. Every year it seems we have conversations with friends and neighbors as we comment on the weather. “Oh we have been getting more snow over the last couple of years. This must be a new normal.” It wasn’t too long ago when we weren’t talking about new normals when it came to weather.
Our world is changing, crying out to us to pay attention to what is happening as we remember Zion and how things used to be.
This is an election year, maybe this is the year when we owe it to ourselves and to our children to pay more careful attention to our political leaders and what they have to say about our well being and the care of our world. We don’t have to be in captivity for ever. We can break free and work towards real, meaningful change. Our children are screaming at us, let this be the year when we listen to their voices. This is our chance to make our voices heard and to take a stand.
I do believe that when we listen to one another, when we are able to lay down political ideologies and work together as people, we can hasten in a new Jerusalem a new world where whales, trees and people are no longer political entities, but as people and a world where the best interests of all are given due consideration and care. This is possible and it begins with you and me. The need for fresh water, clean air and sustainable food sources is a concern and a human right that crosses all boundaries of culture, politics and religion.
Today we enter into a season of Thanksgiving. Today we give thanks and remember our pets and creation. We remember those who are with us and those who have gone before us. It is in the eyes of our pets and the created order where we are reminded of the unconditional love of God for us and our world. We are reminded that when God created the heavens and the earth, it was good. This is a love that is real and all encompassing.
In the ability of creation to reveal to us new ways of creating sustainable energy and renewable resources we are reminded again and again of God’s forgiveness and ability to walk with us, as imperfect as we can be on this fragile Earth. But it takes more than a wagging tale and God coming in behind us to pick up the pieces. It takes all of us to continue the work of being co-creators with God as we build and renew a better home for the generations who are to come after us. This is about all of us living into our baptismal covenant where we commit our lives to, “safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth.”