Dear CalStG Family,
I am currently in chilly Uppsala, Sweden sending Calvary-St. George’s greetings from E. F. S., the mission and evangelism arm of the Church of Sweden. I was invited to preach and teach this week at their national conference. During the conference, I was invited onto a discussion panel with other pastors and theologians to discuss the church’s mission and climate change. If you thought Greta Thunberg was a big deal in New York, she is on par with the second coming in secular Sweden.
However, amongst their children, Sweden is seeing a rise in what psychologists are calling, “eco-anxiety”: a condition of crippling fear that is being induced by the apocalyptic language that is framing the current debate on climate change.
Next week, the church officially remembers and celebrates the life and witness of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of environmentalist. In the famous prayer attributed to Francis, he asks God to make him an instrument of his peace. “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.” The approach of the world to climate change will not work.
I think we can all agree that collectively the human race needs to be better stewards of the Earth; it is our vocation.
However, yelling at people, shaming governments, and frightening children in the end will not work. These are all means to be consoled, understood, and loved. These are all means which focus first upon the self. It means nothing to a person in India to tell them to stop with pollution because it will be unbearably hot in 2037, when their children are starving right now.
This is where the church can lead the way differently.
From the Gospel, a place of forgiveness, we might seek the way of Francis and console, understand, and love. The church is absolutely everywhere from New York City, Stockholm, and especially in the developing world.
To help developing countries, on a local level, because governments won’t do it, through the church help educate and develop environmentally-friendly jobs and industries, which seek to honor the dignity of people, instead of shaming them into it.
Also with a clear understanding that while this is the only earth we have, it shouldn’t be worshiped, for behold he makes all things new.
If you have any thoughts on this, I would love to hear what you think, please comment right below on this blog.
Finally, I want to tell you about two very important things happening this week:
First, this Sunday, at the 10 A.M. and 11 A.M. services, we will have The Right Reverend Mary D. Glasspool, the Assistant Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. She is an engaging preacher and we are thrilled to have her in our midst.
Second, we are just more than a week out from beginning our season of stewardship. By now most of you have received stewardship information in mail, if not call us or you can go online. This year we are giving out tote bags that read, “Enjoy Your Forgiveness,” to the first 200 pledgers. We need your pledge as our mission continues to grow. So begin to consider your generous commitment today.
Mel and I fly back tomorrow so we will see you all this Sunday.