Presentation by Rev. Seth J. Thomas as a part of the Multi-Faith Network for Climate Justice’s “Celebrating Earth, Our Common Home” event at Lairmont Manor on September 24, 2019.
Prayer of Confession
O God, enlarge within us the sense of
fellowship with all living things,
our brothers the animals to whom thou
gavest the earth as their home in
common with us.
We remember with shame that in the past
we have exercised the high dominion
of humanity with ruthless cruelty
so that the voice of the earth,
which should have gone up to thee
in song, has been a groan of travail.
May we realize that they live not for
us alone but for themselves and for
thee, and that they love
the sweetness of life.
How do we enter into the most critical crisis humanity has faced in our recent history? How do we not shy away from the potential of collapse and the fear of breakdown that crackles in the air?
To enter is to embrace the tension of our complicity in the problem and the possibility of hope. We must tell the truth about where we have come from, that we have embraced a collective participation and denial for far too long. And, then, as we stand here today, we embrace the possibility, the hope that there may be a way, however complex and however much sacrifice it will require, ahead of us.
To enter this complex tension is to embrace the way of wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom is among the highest, holiest tasks of our shared traditions.
Jesus spoke to his listeners in parables, wisdom stories, which challenged the status quo and awoke his hearers to a new reality he was sharing with them, something he called the Kingdom of Heaven or the Reign of God.
For us to share our home in common, to accept the responsibility of protecting it, participating in its flourishing, embracing the call to sacrifice and reduce our rampant overconsumption — this will require us to move forward not with simple solutions to complex problems, but with carefully discerned steps on the wisdom path.
The problem is — the time is now. If we do not act today, we will continue to watch as things collapse around us. The time is now.
Within my Christian tradition, the way of Jesus is to live a life in a rhythm of contemplation and action, to seek wisdom and then turn outwards in response to revelation. Or, as the Psalmist teaches, to pursue God’s way is a long obedience in the same direction. People of this way are formed to hold the tension between what is and what is possible, between what is falling apart and what may yet be restored!
I believe the question before us is not whether we must act on behalf of the climate crisis, as a collective community, to save and restore our common home. We all know the answer to this. Yes, emphatically so.
I believe the question before us, which will always present itself in times of crisis as well as times of peace, is how to live in wisdom. How do live into the complex questions of our time with a stance of hope and possibility, not despair or retreat.
But are we trained in wisdom, or are we formed unto some other way? Are we practitioners of steady breath, focused minds, hearts that are fixed upon what is good and true and beautiful?
A gathering of this kind gives me hope. We will not be silent. We will be focused. We will embrace the urgency of the moment and act swiftly, truthfully, sacrificially, lovingly.
As a Minister of Jesus Christ — I claim this as my way. And among my fellow clergy and spiritual leaders, I call each of us to this way as it is manifested among each of our traditions — may we boldly call each of our communities to action and…together…may we love, act, and nurture the flourishing of our common home in all its glory, goodness, and beauty.
Amen. May it be so. Amen.