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In Communion with the Earth

Psalm 104

Rev. 21:1-6

Our sacred text begins with: In the Beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland and the darkness covered the abyss and a mighty wind swept over the waters.

And from this spirit breath of God, breathing over the chaos,  God created all life; life in abundance, and incredible richness… land and sea, moon and sun,  the fish of the sea, and the four legged creatures of the land, the birds of the air, the plants and trees, and the cycle of growth, and reproduction, the cycle of seasons, the water cycle, the balance of all living things with one another.  An unbelievably delicately balanced whole that we are only yet beginning to understand in all its complexity.  God breathed life into chaos. So says our story of beginnings.

And God saw everything God had made and behold, it was very good. Genesis 1: 31

Today as we gather with Christians around the world to break and share bread on this world wide communion Sunday, it is impossible for us to think only of Christian brothers and sisters around the globe.  

On our website we have a quote from Sally McFague, eco-feminist and theologian:

“We, all of us, are being called to do something unprecedented. We are being called to think about “everything that is,” for we now know that everything is interrelated and that the well-being of each is connected to the well-being of the whole. This suggests a “planetary agenda” for all the religions, all the various fields of expertise:

For such a time as this, we need as Christians, to be reflecting on our common communion with the earth.  There is a concept in our tradition that many feel uncomfortable with.  Repentance…. As Leonard Cohen says in one of his song poems. : “When they said Repent, repent repent, I wonder what they meant”   Well Leonard, one thing they meant was that we need to turn our lives around and head in a different direction that leads us in a God Way.   Surely in such a time as this, we need to repent for the desecration generations of humans have wrought on this sacred gift, the earth and turn our world around if we are going to survive.

We are truly at a turning point in the human species.  Warnings have been coming for decades, but many, including our present government, have chosen to ignore them, opting for short term economic gain, not recognizing that that path is putting the planet in peril.   Or rather, as ecologist Véronique Vendette reminded us Monday Night at the Living greener workshop…we are at a turning point for the human species..the planet will continue just fine without us- but we may not make it… rather a sobering thought.

Climate warning predictions of 3 or 4 years ago are already out of date.  New science suggests an even faster warming than had been thought possible.  In December in Copenhagen, there will be a global summit on climate change.   In preparation for that summit, the UN issued a summary report of 400 peer-reviewed scientific studies.  Among other things, it found that carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel burning had grown by 1.1% from 1990-1999, but the increase was 3.5 % from 2002-2007. This after we have begun recycling and awareness of climate change.   This growth means the obvious hastening and intensification  of the adverse affects of climate change.

Few places will be more affected than our arctic.  Canada and Russia are the 2 countries on earth in the northern regions that will affect change.  By 2100, the climate will warm an average of 3.5% Celsius, but in the arctic it will be double that.  As permafrost begins to melt, it will release methane gas which is far more devastating to climate change than carbon dioxide.   Sea ice and glaciers, one of the largest sources of clean drinkable water is disappearing at an alarming rate. As the land that has been watered and nurtured by glaciers becomes dry, all the people who lived and were sustained by those rivers and streams and the land they fed, will need to migrate.  And as the sea level rises, and our arctic ice mixes with salt water, many islands and low-lying areas will be flooded.  There are already signs that this is happening.  It’s not something only for the future.

We also know that global warming worsens extreme weather conditions like drought and storms. And all doubters must surely find it harder to ignor these signs of climate change.  All you have to do is watch the news to see the severity of typhoons in Asia, hurricanes in the Caribbean and southern US…wildfires in places like Australia, California, even BC.  Mexico has had its worst drought in 70 years, as have Chile, and parts of Argentina, Paraguay and Uraguay.  Climate change is happening NOW, and those who will be affected the worst are those in the south who are already poor.

It is time for the world to wake up….Indeed it is past time. On Monday, September 21, at events in more than 135 countries worldwide, at 2600 events people gathered to send a deafening wake-up call on climate change to world leaders,  They found creative ways to demand the governments of the world come  to a  binding agreement on green house gas emissions, and set enforceable targets.   Kairos, through which the United Church does a lot of its justice work, has called on churches and communities to sign petitions to demand that our own government be part of the solution rather than part of those blocking agreement as they have been in Bali and Kyoto.   

And so today at coffee hour, there will be a table with petitions that we invite you to sign.  Letters to the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment would also be helpful.

As we break bread this day we are in communion with people in Samoa, in the Philippines, in Indonesia, with brothers and sisters in drought areas of Africa, of Australia, of South America, we are in communion with our brothers and sisters in the arctic, but we are also in communion with the creatures of the land, the creatures of the sea and of the air, the plants and vegetation, the rivers and streams, the oceans and ponds.  We are in communion with the Creator who must be weeping at the abuse of this incredible creation, this sacred gift of life we have been given…..

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