Sick of the environment?

A sermon preached by the Rector Rev Chris Williams on Sunday 2 June 2019 at the 8.30am Communion Service

When I mentioned in my weekly email this week that we would be looking again at the environment and the climate crisis today, I received a message from someone which began:

‘I think people are sick of hearing about the environment. They don’t care.’ Then, after making some very strong and valid points the person ended: ‘The environment crisis needs a change of mind and, more importantly, a change of heart, not more info about what a dire state the environment is in.’

I think this person is both right and wrong. I mean, what is the catalyst for that change of heart they speak of – unless it’s a realisation of the dire state the environment is in – and is becoming?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you will be aware of the crisis facing us and the extremely sobering challenge that we have just 10 years to sort ourselves out.

So where is that ‘change of mind and heart’ that leads to action? To date, we haven’t really seen it – although, for reasons mentioned by Annie last week, there are signs we are beginning to wake up.

As Christians who believe God created this amazing world and everything in it and gave it to us as the most unique and generous gift imaginable – why are we not at the forefront of the battle to protect it? And why, if the changes we make now will create a better world for our children and their children are we not doing more?

Well, I partly answered that question in my magazine introduction last month, I believe this is primarily down to human greed and selfishness. Many of us have already done the easy things: the recycling, turning the heat down, maybe brought a more economical car, but few of us have made real sacrifices.

The person who wrote to me said ‘follow the money’. They then went on to ask how many of us are willing to make changes that will affect our income – in particular they asked how many of us have pensions or investments invested in environmentally-destructive companies? How many of us have even bothered to look at the options?

This person (who you can see has effectively written my sermon for me today) also makes the point that we are obsessed with meat and some of us are not prepared to change what we eat for the sake of the planet – and we’re back to my comments about greed and selfishness. Do you know that greenhouse gasses produced by meat production accounts for more than all the world’s cars, ships, trains and planes put together.

I’m still learning here – and struggling. Flying is an enormous contribution to greenhouse gasses. This summer, we want to go back to Florence, Italy. We were highly-motivated to go by train, but it costs more than we could afford, so we’re going by plane!. So, I realise that, when I point the finger at you, there are three pointing back at me! I have, however, given up beef and milk – I’m still working on cheese and milk chocolate!

I wasn’t around in the last war, but I know enough to know that, faced with the threat of Hitler, people made extraordinary sacrifices for the cause. They lived in ways that contributed to the war effort because by doing so they believed they might be saved from the danger facing them – although I realise many of the changes were imposed on them. Unfortunately, we live in times when our leaders are more concerned by remaining in power and maintaining those systems of power and money rather than facing up to the reality of what confronts us. That said, on 1 May, our government did declare a state of climate emergency – the first in the world to do so. Let’s hope it means something in practice.

The threat posed by Hitler didn’t materialise overnight. People watched the signs and speculated but eventually it got to the point of no return and war was declared. I think we are at that point. We face a threat – one with greater implications even than the 2nd World War. We need to wake up and realise we need to fight back – now.

The letter writer referred to above said: The environment crisis needs a change of mind and, more importantly, a change of heart,

In the next service, the following words are included in our confession:

Give us the will and the courage

to simplify the way we live,

 

Give us the will and the courage

to reduce the energy we use,

Give us the will and the courage

to share the resources you provide,

 

Give us the will and the courage

to bear the cost of change.

Notice each statement of this confession begins with the words ‘Give us the will and the courage’. That’s exactly what we need – the will and the courage. The courage to face up to the realities facing us and the will to make the necessary changes.

At the moment many of us are making changes because of the threat we face. But most of the changes are simply how we should be living anyway – they are better – for the planet, the wildlife and plants and for ourselves. We need a radical re-think of what it means to live as human beings on this planet: ensuring our actions create a caring, sharing, loving sustainable world for our children and theirs and theirs.

In the next service we will be hearing a song written and performed by two of our young people. I want to finish by reading it:

End with Change the story

Change the Story

This is an SOS from the kids

All the grown ups take note of this.

We’re finding our voice, calling you out

You can’t leave the world in fire and drought.

This is an SOS from the kids..

Please change the story

Re-write the plot

This beautiful earth cannot be lost

Stop hurting our planet like you don’t care

There’s only one world for us to share

This is an SOS from the kids

All the grown ups take note of this.

Wake up and see that you must make a change

The riches you seek will all be washed away

This is an SOS from the kids..

Don’t listen to the fat cats,

they only want their cream

Always needing oil for feeding their machines

We should care about the animals;

we should care about the trees,

We’ve got to make this world a better place for you and me!

This is an SOS from the kids

Please change the story

Re-write the plot

This beautiful earth cannot be lost

Stop hurting our planet like you don’t care

There’s only one world for us to share