Oakland church

Archive for climate

The Fierce Urgency of Now with the Climate Crisis; We are in Kairos Time

“The Fierce Urgency of Now” is a phrase that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deployed in his address at New York’s Riverside Church when he articulated his opposition to the Vietnam War:

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.”

 

Kairos:  Jesus’s Understanding of Time

Jesus’ ministry begins in a time of turmoil following the arrest of John the Baptist. In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus declares, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Theologians such as Paul Tillich have unpacked the nuance and significance of the Greek word for “time” in these opening words of Jesus.

Unlike English, Greek has two distinctly different words for “time”: chronos and kairos. Chronos is time that is measured and definite, as of a ticking clock. Kairos, by contrast, signifies the fulfillment of the right action at the right moment. In the New Testament, the coming of Jesus is what the apostle Paul describes as the fullness of time.
 
Tillich elaborated an understanding of kairos by situating it within moments of profound catastrophe which are paradoxically also moments of unique opportunity. For Tillich, such moments are charged with God as “the eternal breaks into the temporal, shaking and transforming it.”
 
I recently recalled a quote from the Russian author, Dostoyevsky, that moves me deeply about our climate crisis, “in the end perhaps it is the beauty of nature that will compel us to save it.” I also came across a poem that I fell in love with in my early 20’s, written by English poet and Jesuit Priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, entitled Pied Beauty, which speaks of this sense of wonder about the glorious diversity of the earth: 
Pied Beauty
Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-color as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscapes plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
    With gratitude for the beauty and the preciousness of this Earth! Love, Pastor Laurie 
 

Gratitude for the Earth

With The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal , guest preacher  in worship            

Special Advisor on Climate Justice to UCC General Minister and President

Author: Climate Church, Climate World  

  -Discussion after the service with Jim

Climate Change  is the greatest existential threat of our time. The Rev Dr Jim Antal is a denominational leader, climate activist, author and public theologian. He serves as Special Advisor on Climate Justice to the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Antal’s book, CLIMATE CHURCH, CLIMATE WORLD, was featured on Earth Day in the Chicago Tribune (2018), in Christian Century Magazine (2019) and by the AAR (2020). From 2006-2018, Antal led the 350 UCC churches in Massachusetts as their Conference Minister and President. Antal is a graduate of Princeton University, Andover Newton Theological School, and Yale Divinity School, which recently honored him with the William Sloane Coffin Award for Peace and Justice. In 2019 Antal was honored as recipient of the UCC’s social justice prophet award. An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, Antal wrote and championed three groundbreaking national UCC resolutions: in 2013 the UCC became the first national body to vote to divest from fossil fuel companies; in 2017 the national UCC Synod voted to declare a new moral era in opposition to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord; in 2019, the UCC national Synod became the first Christian denomination to endorse the Green New Deal

Orange Sky in the Morning is a Call to Support the Green New Deal

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On Wednesday morning, here in the Bay Area, we awoke to the strangest shared experience.  Even our cats were wondering… what’s going on? Why is the sky as orange as a pumpkin? Why is it getting darker rather than lighter? Why can’t I smell smoke? Will it get worse?   When will the locusts come?   As Marvin Gaye once sung it, “What’s going on?”
 
By now, many of you have read about what’s going on.
 
What’s really going on? Human induced climate change. Let’s do what we can in this upcoming election to support the Green New Deal! Thank you to our denomination, the UCC for being the first Christian body to endorse the Green New Deal!  Thank you to Skyline Church for initiating the resolution at our 2019 NCNC Annual Meeting, as it made it’s way up to the National UCC body.
 
Here are excerpts from my presentation at last year’s NCNCUCC Annual Meeting. I’d be happy to share more from my presentation, or from my climate change talk at Annual meeting.
 
What is it:

The Green New Deal (GND) marks the 1st time that Congress has been presented with an opportunity  to act on climate change by taking a vote that recognizes the scope of the challenge , the urgency of the crisis,  the intersectionality of the numerous justice issues that are amplified by climate change; the opportunity to act on climate in a way that also addresses racial injustice, economic injustice,  and the need to create clean, healthful, and family supporting jobs that our planet needs; and the opportunity to deploy solutions that address all of these moral challenges.

Here’s why it’s important: 

1. The GND addresses the most important justice issues that the UCC has been committed to for decades. It demands that the federal govt. address injustice of climate change in a way that also tackles the systemic injustices that disproportionately affect vulnerable and front-line communities, including racial injustice, economic injustice and the need to create clean, healthful, and family supporting jobs that our planet needs. 

2. The GND acknowledges the necessity of assuming moral responsibility for intergenerational harm caused by the failure to act on climate change and the urgency of acting on a comprehensive scale to reduce the catastrophic future generations will inherit.

3. The GND offers tangible hope in the face of threats that are becoming more and more real – in the US & world-wide- or to put it another way it’s up to us to transform these threats into opportunities. To create fair paying secure jobs,  secure clean air and water, redress manifestations of environmental racism, and pursue a just transition to clean and renewable energy.  

Here’s what we can do locally: 
 
1. standup for science & continuing to learn from new science

2. discuss climate change more often – at church, home & in social encounters

3. tell others that we already have all the tech. we need to achieve the goals of the GND

4. incorporate into our worship  & community leadership an awareness of climate change, its conseq. esp. for vulnerable & front-line communities, & make the changes science says we must & technology says we can

5.  help our communities prepare for extreme weather events & to become a resource

6. lift up this reality of millions of people, regardless of their political affiliation or resolve to support the GND

7. engaging federal state & local agencies as advocates for policies & legislation that advance the goals of GND including its commitment to address systemic injustice, that disproportionately affects front-line invulnerable communities.

8.  advocate for a just transition for all those workers & communities most dependent on fossil fuel energy so that they also have opportunities for clean healthful &: family supporting jobs that heal our planet. 

And here’s a resource from UCC – 10 Ways to Mobilize.