Episcopal Climate News is edited by the Rev. Nathan Empsall, an Episcopal deacon and current seminarian. In my preaching course at Yale Divinity School, we were required this week to write and deliver a brief “prophetic oracle” — a short passage (or oracle) focused on judgement, lamentation, and/or hope, in the style of the Old Testament prophets. It will come as no surprise to ECN readers that I chose to preach about climate change. Here is the text of that short sermon.
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these [disciples] were silent, the stones would cry out.'”
Today, the stones are crying out.
Scientists tell us that throughout history, whenever glaciers have melted, the volcanoes beneath them – relieved of pressure – have erupted, spewing forth their lava and gas.
We humans also spew forth gases, sustaining our oh-so comfy lifestyles by tearing carbon out of the ground and putting it into the sky, where God never intended for it to go. This warms the earth. The glaciers are melting, and this time, it’s our fault. Soon, the molten rocks beneath them may erupt.
I tell you, if we disciples stay silent about climate change, even the stones will cry out.
Tend the garden, God told us, and you may use it. But instead, we have wreaked havoc, and are using it up. Scientists are now putting a timeline on this crisis, and say we have just 12 years to change our ways –
Or already-enormous wildfires and hurricanes will grow even larger and deadlier.
50% of species may go extinct.
And food prices will skyrocket.
These things have already begun. And all of us will suffer – but none more so than the vulnerable poor, those who already struggle to pay for food at current prices, and oppressed communities of color, neglected time and time again. We as a nation have put our toxic waste sites in predominantly minority neighborhoods, and we leave them to fend for themselves when climate disasters strike:
Katrina in New Orleans. Maria in Puerto Rico. Rising seas in the Pacific islands.
Perhaps this consumption has made the nation comfortable and rich. But Jesus says, “Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your consolation. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.”
Yet there is hope. We only have 12 years, but that means we still have 12 years. And that is a gift.
We do not have to stay silent. The stones are crying out, but we can cry out with them. Let us repent, reduce our consumption, and speak out. Let us pray, and let us act – in our homes, in our workplaces and businesses, in our schools and alma maters, and in our churches. Let us act, guided by our faith in God’s proven power to renew and resurrect.