Retreating to the basement when big storms come through is just part of life in Minnesota. So when my phone blared “TORNADO WARNING! SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!” I knew just what to do. Grabbed the family, a backup source of light, and a bit of entertainment (weather radar on the laptop) and headed downstairs. Just like usual.
Except that it’s the middle of December. And the thermometer reported that it was 64 degrees outside. The routine was familiar; the circumstances were anything but. I found it frightening and unsettling. Not because of possible storm damage (always a concern), but because this shouldn’t be happening. It shouldn’t be warm and thunderstormy with a chance of tornadoes in December. This is the time for shoveling and making snowmen, not short sleeves and storm shelters.
I’ve been freaked out about climate change all week. The storms this week and last served as ominous warnings of what’s to come, reminders that climate change isn’t some distant possibility but is unfolding all around us.
In all honesty, when it comes to climate change, I vacillate between despair and hope. One moment I’m anguishing over the strange and dangerous weather. In the next I’m feeling buoyant, reminded of all sharp minds and tenacious organizers working to counter the threat and mobilize people. In the end, I don’t know what will happen or how this will shake out, but I trust that God is active and moving here and now, just as God has always been.
Whatever comes our way, whatever troubles we must navigate, our response begins from the foundation we have in Christ. We move into the world in love and humility, with compassion and generosity, trusting that what we offer, through the mercies of God, will be enough. In this instance, that means that we seek to reduce our carbon footprint as we support policies and initiatives to reign in carbon emissions. And when disaster strikes, we reach out to our neighbors who have been hurt, loving them as we love ourselves.
You can help right now by donating to Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). ERD does good work, both around the world and at home. It gets a top rating from charitywatch.org. A gift to ERD’s US Disaster Response fund will help victims of the recent storms; gifts to other funds will help others in a variety of ways. I encourage you to join me in donating to ERD. If you prefer, send a donation to St. Luke’s or drop it in the offering plate, marked for ERD, and we’ll send it in on your behalf.
While there is much we can do, I’m not at peace about climate change. I find it frightening and destabilizing. I am, however, profoundly grateful to be surrounded by this community who cares deeply about God’s creation, the impact human beings have on it, and is working actively to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In Christ and through you, I find hope.
Yours in Christ, Justin