Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Fire and Rain

“Fire and rain” was the topic of a post here on June 12 concerned with bidding prayers for people affected by wildfires in the western United States, people affected by flooding in Florida and Alabama, and for wisdom as a new study suggested we were reaching an important tipping point that would result in a very different planet biologically than the one on which we live and on which humankind has developed.

In recent days, new instances of fire and rain have added to these concerns.

High heat and “epic dryness” are feeding ten separate fires in Colorado, along with fires in New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, California, and Nevada. USA Today quotes Ron Roth of the Rocky Mountain Area Coordinating Center saying, “The whole Central Rocky Mountain range is a tinderbox.” We have felt the heat in Nebraska. The town of Benkelman hit a monthly record high temperature of 114 degrees on Wednesday; the previous high temperature there for June --111 degrees -- was set in 1936.

This graphic shows the temperature records broken so far this month in the continental United States.

Since that June 12 post, Minnesotans experienced record flooding in Duluth, and tropical storm Debby dumped incredible amounts of rain on Florida and southern Georgia.

All of the destruction has been covered by news sources, and some have even connected the dots among the heat, the fires, the floods, and climate change caused by global warming. What most news sources can’t cover is the question of how people of faith can best respond to these events. We respond in a variety of ways; here are four ways we can move beyond a feeling of being overwhelmed or helpless to a place of faith and service:

1. Pray. (See A MajorTipping Point; Fire and Rain.) Pray for the victims of fires and floods and those in the path of destruction; pray for firefighters and rescue workers working in extremely difficult conditions; pray for communities that will never again be the same. Pray that we can find a way to live that gives the next generation and the one after that a decent shot at living good lives. Pray for forgiveness “for our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 268), for we are responsible corporately – all of us together – for climate change to have been allowed to progress to this point.

2. Give to relief efforts such as Episcopal Relief and Development to help the people most directly affected by these disasters.

3. Advocate for stronger policies to mitigate global warming. Speak up as citizens, consumers, workers, and church members. Let our leaders know you are concerned about climate change and its effects on people today and in the future. This video – a TEDx talk by Dave Roberts – explains climate change so that people who want to speak up about it feel prepared to do so:

4. Live in hope. This morning’s Daily Office lesson from Romans (Romans 5:1-11) reminds us that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character,  and character produces hope, and hope does not disappointment us…”  Christians live in hope, not only hope of eternal life, but hope in the coming of the Kingdom of God. This is hope that calls us to live into the kingdom every day of our lives, serving as the Body of Christ in the world, encouraging one another, and living in expectant hope.