Water, water, everywhere...or not - Reflection - 10-10-18

Texts for Sunday October 14, 2018
21st Sunday after Pentecost

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31

Another hurricane in the SE United States! Michael came ashore as a category 4. Now it is moving up to the Carolinas who are attempting to recover from Hurricane Florence who hung around and dumped tons of water not even a month ago. My home state of Iowa is also soggy after record rains in September. From the October 10 edition of the Iowa City Press-Citizen: "The Iowa City area — much like other areas of the currently waterlogged state — absorbed a dramatic increase in rainfall this autumn, leading to multiple flood events on multiple rivers and forcing people to confront the question of whether this is Iowa's new normal."

You may be aware that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report this week that will serve as the primary scientific input into the Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments gather to review the Paris Accord on climate change. It was commissioned by the UN to investigate what would happen if nations could manage to hold the global average temperature a half a degree lower than the agreed upon limit made in Paris. It got a lot of press because, well, it isn’t good news. “Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.” In other words, even if we dramatically change direction and manage to keep the temperature rise a half of a degree lower, things will still be grim…but less grim. Plus, the year that severe impacts will appear was moved up by several decades.

The readings from both Amos and Mark this week talk about economic justice. Amos is clear and descriptive about disregarding the poor and needy to instead pay attention to enhancing our own well-being. Imagine for a moment that it is the earth that is the poor and needy. How many ways have we – and do we daily – disregard the needs of the earth? We “trample” the land and the seas, the animals and the plants, the atmosphere and the weather. What if we took Amos’ call to establish justice in terms of our care for the earth?

Or, leave it at poor and needy people. One thing is crystal clear from the IPCC report. The people who are dis-proportionally at higher risk of adverse consequences of global warming are those who are vulnerable, without resources, as well as those dependent on agricultural or coastal livelihoods, and indigenous people. Urban areas act as heat islands amplifying the effects of increasing and lengthening heatwaves. People who live in poor neighborhoods without air conditioning in cities are at risk for heat-related illness and death.

Injustice is fundamental to climate change. It is precisely the people who contribute least to the problem and benefit least from its causes are the people who will suffer the most.

Of course, they are.

What did Amos say? Establish justice.

Mark points us toward the “how to”. The man is told to sell everything and give to the poor. What shape does that take in the climate change equation? 

Some of it still has to do with how much stuff we want to have. What kind of stuff you want impacts the manufacturing and shipping of it which can contribute to carbon emissions. What kind of stuff impacts the use of it which can contribute to carbon emissions? Maybe it isn’t so much we need to get rid of stuff as it is we need to stop needing more and more stuff?

Jesus also talks about the difficultly of those who have more to see the kingdom of God. They need to see life differently which means change. What shape does change take in the climate warming equation? 

The IPCC was very blunt in the need for rather quick and dramatic change. “Limiting warming to 1.5ÂșC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

Jesus and Amos have called and challenged you. 
And then,from Hebrews 4:12: the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.

So, there you go. Some things to think about and pray about and act on. 

Here’s my reflection on these scriptures three years ago; still a pretty good read. 

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245