Excerpts from the sermon “Shaped by Hope – In a Climate Crisis World” preached by the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal on March 15, 2015
We need to take to heart Jesus’ most common instruction: “Fear not!” When it comes to the climate crisis – following Jesus’ admonition – we need to fearlessly move forward:
- Unafraid to face the facts.
- Unafraid to speak with candor.
- Unafraid to name and go after what may seem to be impossible accomplishments because
that is what is required to preserve God’s creation.
To address the climate crisis, we need:
- a hope that goes beyond the personal concerns we each have;
- a hope big enough to embrace the world around us;
- a hope not limited to people but a hope that embraces all life;
- and not only all things alive today, but a hope so large that all generations to come are included. That’s the hope that God gave Noah after the flood when God declared an everlasting covenant. God is not only concerned about us! In addition to us, God covenants with all future generations and with every living creature. (Genesis 9:12)
Some of you know that on July 1, 2013 the UCC became the first denomination to vote to divest from fossil fuel companies. This began when your Mass Conference Board voted to bring the resolution I had written to Synod. In doing so, we were on the front line of what is becoming a larger movement that now includes close to 1,000 universities, cities, philanthropic foundations and faith communities whose investments together represent more than fifty billion dollars.
Why divest from fossil fuel companies? Well – because the carbon they own – or have the right to tap – is five times what it will take to alter life as we know it. If fossil fuel companies simply continue to carry out their mission, they will wreck the earth.
And as people of faith, not only do we believe that wrecking God’s creation is morally wrong, we believe it’s morally wrong to profit from wrecking creation.
Climate change is already testing our coastal cities, our farms, our national parks, our rivers. It’s also already testing the poor, the marginalized, the elderly, the hungry and homeless. Now it’s time for us to test our politicians. Now it’s time to test any who would profit by wrecking God’s creation.
And most importantly – now it’s time to test our faith. I urge you to allow a great hope to enter your heart as you receive Jesus’ most frequent admonition – “Fear Not!” Face this challenge, follow where God is calling you, and recognize that however impossible, however unlikely, however unreachable, nothing is too hard for God. Amen.
Click here to read the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal’s entire sermon.