Sunday, March 23, 2014


Lent 3: The Woman at the Well

At Church of the Resurrection in Omaha today, Fr. Jason Emerson based this morning’s children’s sermon on the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-42). After asking the children if anyone knew what a well was – “It’s like a big fish!” “No, that’s a whale. This was a well.” – Fr. Jason told them that in this story Jesus asks the woman at the well a lot of questions, but she also asks Jesus a lot of questions. He told the children that this was a good thing, and they should ask lots of questions, too.

I love watching the children interact with Fr. Jason and with one another, and when I can catch a little of the children’s sermon that takes place right before the beginning of the Sunday morning service, it gives me joy. But that joy was mixed with grave concern for these little ones this morning because of a question in something I had read about climate change before leaving for church, a new post on ClimateBites entitled Is it going to be bad or horrifically bad? That’s the scientific debate.

The post links to this video featuring an interview with climate scientist Justin Wood that encourages us to pay attention and become better educated about climate change:

Justin Wood: 97% of actual active climate scientists agree with that position that climate change is real, it's happening right now, and humans are the overwhelming cause in this century and have been for the last 100 years. 'Is it going to be bad or is it going to be horrifically bad' this is what the scientists debate around, not, you know, “it could be fine”. Nothing like that.

The way we are going, if we continue with business as usual if get these rises of temperature by the end of the century of 4, 6, 8, 10 degrees, then he (Professor Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate at University of Manchester, United Kingdom) believes that we would be lucky if 5, maybe 10% of the human pollution survives the century. The planet would essentially be uninhabitable for humans.

Is it going to be bad or horrifically bad? Will human life by the end of this century simply be much more difficult or impossible?

Here is a question for all of us: What are we going to do about it? (As the video suggests, learning more about it is a good first step.)

A major question for the church in this century is: What is the church’s response to climate change? If our response is to ignore it because it seems difficult to talk about it or think about it, or because preachers are afraid of saying anything their congregations might find offensive on a Sunday morning, then we will have failed to be the Body of Christ to a hurting world.

In this morning’s Gospel, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that the time is coming when “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth”. People who worship in truth are people who live in truth. If we are lying to ourselves to escape the hard truths of our world and to avoid the hardest moral issue of our time, how can we worship God in truth? If the church can’t find the moral courage rooted in faith to ask the hard questions, who can?

Questions are good. All of us, adults at least as much as children, need to ask lots of questions.

Nebraskans have a great opportunity to learn more about the intersection of faith, climate change, and environmental stewardship in general at a conference, Creation Care for Congregations, on April 26 at Nebraska Wesleyan University co-hosted by Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light and the Nebraska Energy Office. Rabbi Lawrence Troster will give the keynote address “All in the Same Boat: Confronting the Moral and Spiritual Challenge of Climate Change”.

The day’s schedule and more information is available at the Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light website.