In February of 2012 the Anglican Church in the U.K. issued its Ash Wednesday Declaration as a theological response to climate change.  The title of document was “Climate Change and the Purposes of God.”  We used this document for the Ash Wednesday service here at Faith UCC this year.  This document was both biblically and scientifically based.  The opening line states:  “The likelihood of runaway global warming, which will diminish food security, accelerate the extinction of huge numbers of species and make human life itself impossible in some parts of the world, raises questions that go to the heart of our Christian faith.” 

What I like about this text is that it calls for a seven point  faith approach to human caused climate change.  The first is to Find Joy In Creation!   Explore, celebrate and give thanks for the amazing world that is around us.  It is a gift of God.  Second, “Listen!”  We need to listen to the best science that is out there from the majority of climate scientists remembering that “In ancient Israel, prophets were always shadowed by false prophets, representing the ruling powers.  We must listen to the scientists warning us of approaching dangers, exercise discernment, and be wary of ‘false prophets’ representing the vested interests of the powerful.”  Third, “Repent!”  In truth all of us have contributed to climate change.  Some impact is unavoidable, a byproduct of living but there are things we can do to mitigate our impact.  True repentances is not just feeling bad  but “…finding creative, constructive and immediate ways of addressing the danger.  It happens when God’s Spirit enables a change of mind and a change of heart, prompting a turn from past wrong and a decision to change direction.”  Fourth, “Take Responsibility!”  We must make these changes towards sustainability not just for our generation but for future generations and for the diversity of life on earth. Fifth, “Seek Justice!”  Poor communities and countries have done little to contribute climate change compared to the richer countries; yet they will bear the brunt of the negative effects of climate change.  We are called to question economic systems that lead to limitless consumption of the earth’s resources,  the idea of unlimited economic growth, of overconsumption, exploitative interest and debt, and destruction of the natural environment.  Sixth, “Love Our Neighbor!”  Love of neighbor calls us to consider not only our own neighbors and family in making decisions but also those not in our circle, even strangers, and yes, even future generations.  As we do unto the least of these, we do it unto Christ.  This will be needed more than ever as the stresses caused by climate change grow larger and larger.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, “Act With Hope!”  As people of faith despair is not an option.  “We are called to faith and action in trusting response to the God made known by the Holy Spirit in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Lord of all life.”

Rev. Scott B. Martin