Climate Crisis + Church = ?
Yesterday over 15,000 people joined a mass lobby in Parliament, organised by The Climate Coalition and Greener UK called, 'The Time is Now'. It was quite something seeing MPs being transported to their constituents in decorated rickshaws.
This morning, Britain became the first major world economy to legislate an end to carbon emissions and its contribution to the climate crisis when it passed the ‘Net Zero’ legislation into law.
So, with environmental issues hitting the news and public concern and engagement reaching record highs I feel compelled to ask - what is the role of the church?
I want to make the argument that it is to live out a holistic and authentic gospel - to be the 'good news' of the climate crisis we find ourselves in.
Such a gospel will bear the hallmarks of repentance, redemption and renewal.
In the first instance then, the church can repent.
Repenting means acknowledging the brokenness of the way we relate to creation and affirming that Jesus is Lord and King over all the earth. Confessing our greed and over-consumption as well as mourning the injustice that those least responsible for the environmental crisis are suffering most from its impacts.
Even now there are millions of people in Chennai, India, without water because the monsoon rains are late.
Secondly, the church can model redemption.
Repentance leads us to turn from our old ways and find something new, something better. We should willingly surrender our wasteful lifestyles as part of our worship and love our global neighbours as ourselves. In a time where we need to radically reduce emissions, what would be the impact if Christians stopped flying, or became known for reducing our meat consumption because we love this earth and its people? What about a church which has divested from fossil fuels, praying for the natural world and all those whose livelihoods are being threatened? Or a church which reflects the creative, communal character of God in the way that it stands in solidarity with those in Chennai who are thirsting right now?
Finally, the church can offer the hope of renewal.
Many people are grieving as they grasp the implications of climate forecasts, and rightly so. For many, this grief leads to despair and fear and, while the church grieves alongside others, it can also mark out a path from despair and towards hope.
A hope for the end of brokenness, the reconciliation of all life to and with God.
The hope of the new creation where all of us will be renewed.