In the very midst of their destruction, the prophet Isaiah empowers the people of God. The people in exile feel abandoned by God because they have been severed from the land. Isaiah comforts them in their hopelessness, saying, Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem … Lift it up, do not fear. - Isaiah 40:9
We, as humans, are currently being severed from the land and the Earth by ecological devastation. Facing and stopping the dismal realities of human caused climate tragedy might seem hopeless, but we can be empowered by the call of the prophet. It’s in moments of dire consequence like ours, when so much is at stake, that we are invited to get ourselves up high so we can see better and so our good news can be heard.
This week, the United Church of Christ is responding to the prophetic call of international youth climate justice organizers to join in the Global Climate Strike taking place on Fri. Sept. 20th. Church offices throughout the Southern New England Conference will be closed including the Barrington (RI) Congregational Church. Here in Barrington, we will gather for a vigil on the front lawn of the church from 8-9 AM. A group of us will also be joining the demonstration demanding legislative action be taken to address the crises on the steps of the state house from 10 AM to noon. There are demonstrations happening throughout the nation and the world. The young people are leading us.
Last year’s landmark UN intergovernmental panel report on climate change indicated that humanity has 5-12 years to implement extensive policies to ensure the planet remains livable for our children. It’s time to go up the mountain! Time to get up high! It’s high time we rise above the fears and anxieties that keep too many of us silent and docile. It’s been three years since the water protectors rose up at Standing Rock to wake up the world. It’s high time to rise above the long-standing tradition of institutional white supremacy that brutalized them and continues to allow their voices and warnings to us all to be ignored or forgotten It’s time to rise above harmful theologies that cause us to ignore science and remain inactive. Let us go up high enough to see over the rising oceans and witness the fires devouring the Amazon, the lungs of our precious planet, and the ecosystems that sustain life.
Let us hold hands together to pause and truly witness what we are doing so our tears can water the soil of possibilities for a healed new Earth. Let us rise above polite piety so we can finally damn the greed of the death-dealing industries that invested millions into covering up the science about climate change since the 70s; industries that only serve money and crucify the God of Life and Love in the ravaging of our Mother Earth. We are being called to be realistic enough to rise above the staid talking points that dismiss the needed response to climate crises as being unrealistic. It’s time to rise onto higher ground so we can see our shared common destiny as one human family. We need to get up to that higher place ASAP, look each other in the eye again, and remind each other to not be afraid and rise together.
God has spoken to humanity saying, I have set before you the ways of life and good, or death and evil; choose life. - Deut. 31. Humanity currently faces a moral and spiritual choice between life and death in answering whether we will act to stop ecological breakdown or not. The good news is that, though it’s running out, we still have some time to choose life. The God who is the life of the lives of all creatures, the connective bond throughout the web of life, calls humanity up to a higher place in times like this.
We see that holy wisdom made flesh in clouds of witnesses and hear her voice crying out through so
many loving hearts calling on all to “Choose Life.” The Green New Deal arose out of indigenous resistance at Standing Rock in dialogue with global climate justice organizers! It asks us to choose life! The Green New Deal most fully represents the legislative changes that need to be implemented within the next 10 years if we are to ensure a peaceful transition to a sustainable way of life and a livable planet for this current generation of children. This past June, our United Church of Christ joined its voice with those crying out to, “Choose Life,” by becoming the first Christian body to endorse the Green New Deal. The strike on Sept. 20th will call for its implementation. We have a moral responsibility to choose life and to do everything in our power to stop the climate crises. On Friday Sept. 20, and in going forward, we must abandon fear and lift our voices with strength, together!
Now is the time! We still have each other! We can still choose life! We can still cry out for Life with all the Love and Justice that is God beating in our heart! Up to a high place! STRIKE! For a future to be possible. For the lives of our children. Even if you’re ignored or dismissed, even if you feel alone, strike because the world strikes with you! Strike for all the life with whom we share life. Strike to bring down empires and for a livable planet. For the Green New Deal. For an end to business as usual. Not just on Sept. 20th but every day, let your soul be on strike until we all wake up and choose life. Out of the pews and into the streets for a new Earth and for the Kin-dom of God.
Rev. Brendan Curran is Divisional Vice President for Justice and Witness for the Rhode Island Conference and Associate Minister of the Barrington Congregational Church UCC.
The Rev. Brendan Curran is Associate Minister at the Barrington Congregational Church UCC in Barrington, RI.