An Ecological Dawning
I am an early riser, one who enjoys watching the sun spread across the sky. This morning I couldn’t help but consider it a metaphor for the new light I believe is on the horizon regarding our environment. One reason for this is the reading I have been doing of late on this topic. Yesterday, it was my honor to preach at Wesley United Methodist Church adjacent to the campus of the University of Illinois. It was called a “teach in” as part of a national focus on faith and the environment. I believe a new day is dawning in terms of public awareness and constructive action.
It is not my intent to offer a reprise the sermon here. Instead I have attached a link to a copy for those who are interested. Here is my take away. First, we face enormous challenges as a society, as a global community. The damage has been severe, it will be difficult to reverse. NASA now suggests that climate change is our nation’s most serious security risk. Note the changes in the Arctic as our early warning system. (The Petermann glacier in Greenland is receding more than twenty miles a year!) Increasingly we are seeing a link with floods, wild fires and drought. We will have more than fifty million environmental refugees by the year 2020. This doubles the number of the estimates just twenty years ago.
I know the dangers of climate change are very real — difficult (some say impossible) to reverse. On the other hand, there are signs of hope, a dawning of awareness among nations, corporations and the general public. It is my sincere hope that the U.S. Congress will one day soon catch up with the scientific evidence. As the research is overwhelming clear, the Paris agreements are tentatively in process, and corporate and technological leaders are investing billions of dollars toward constructive change, it is our duty as citizens to press the case with Congress. The cost of solar and wind energy continue to drop in price.
It was a joy to be with a university community and see the commitments made by that congregation. I spoke with several students who indicated a deep appreciation for the sermon — but more importantly a personal commitment as future engineers, chemists, business leaders and farmers to a different way of thinking about our economy and ecology. Hooray for the gifts of great universities! (Look for a post soon challenging the larger church to rethink our investments in and valuing of campus ministry.)
I know that change will be difficult. Actually, it calls for a conversion — an ecological conversion, on the part of individuals, the culture and the economy. The witness of people of faith is essential as part of any solution. All people of faith – especially the local church… these communities will need to find voice on these matters. As Pope Francis demonstrated with the issuance of the encyclical Laudato Si, Christians can bring a perspective, insight and inspiration for the future — for the dawning just ahead.
For the complete text of the sermon, see: WesleySermon – Feb 14, 2016