Good news is emerging from Paris, even as the City of Light continues to clear away wreckage from recent deadly terror attacks. In a Parisian suburb, top leaders from around the globe—faith-based and heads of state, poor and rich, small and large, developing and industrialized—gathered for 13 days to hammer out a climate accord hopeful enough for heaven and nature to sing. And for churches to celebrate.
The Paris Accord represents what many thought impossible. In an unprecedented show of collaboration, 195 countries came together to take shared responsibility to slow global temperature rise and the havoc that results from it. As you probably know, global warming has already begun disrupting the delicate balances of Creation. Weather patterns are shifting dramatically, sea levels are rising forcing some communities to move to higher ground, and people are being displaced. In fact, the horrifying civil war in Syria has been linked to drought spurred by climate change.
Why is this good news for churches?
We who take to heart the Gospel message to assist the poor and dispossessed finally have some help. Even as we make flood buckets, organize work trips to clean up after natural disasters, send money and love and prayers to those in need, cook endless meals for the hungry, and, pray for the needs of the world, our efforts now have some muscular international assistance. Instead of just reacting to the consequences of climate change the world has come together to deal with its causes. This shift from reaction to action is a welcome one for the Creation.
In addition, religious voices from Pope Francis to Episcopal Priest Sally Bingham of Interfaith Power and Light to Peter Sawtell of Eco-Justice Ministries have long been calling climate change what it is: a humanitarian disaster and moral imperative.
There’s more to do.
Our voices are needed in the process of staying the course. The Paris Accords are an impressive beginning. However, they don’t actually go far enough to stop the devastation.
What can your church do?
Continue to comfort the afflicted. At the same time, don’t be afraid to afflict the comfortable. That means calling on local, national and international leaders to make good on their commitments, for the sake of all Creation.
Pray for the ongoing health of Creation and her creatures.
Open your hearts and doors to assist people who lose their jobs as fossil fuel production is phased out. Also be prepared to assist people displaced by natural disasters, war and conflicts over diminishing natural resources—including international refugees.
Cultivate wonder for the Creation. Host camps, weekend retreats in nature, and outdoor Vacation Bible School experiences.
Preach on the care of Creation, sustainability, compassion and justice—for all God’s Creation.
Green your buildings, ministries, and worship services.
Educate yourselves. It is now documented that the “debate” on climate science has been manufactured by fossil fuel industries to cast doubt on legitimate climate science.
Continue to call on ourselves, God, and the powers that be to place the common good before all else.
Resilience is the name of the game in a changing climate. Empowering the poor, welcoming the stranger, and loving our enemies builds emotional and spiritual resilience. Planting community gardens, partnering with community organizations, and befriending our neighbors builds communal resilience.
Don’t give in to the kind of fear-mongering and isolationism that divides us. We will rise or fall together. Instead, let love be our highest ideal, and the common good of all Creation, our goal. That’s cause for all heaven and nature to sing.