From Despair to Hope
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I am from one of the earths lowest lying island nations, the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It is made up of long, narrow strips of land and in some places, it is only as wide as the road. There are no mountains; no hills. The land rises, at its highest, to about 7 feet above sea level. In the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean it barely exists.
In my culture, land is everything. It is a deep part of our identity. It is sacred. Every year, I hear about how tides back home are rising higher and higher. And that storms are getting worse with bigger and bigger waves, washing up onto the land taking away roads, trees, crops, and homes. Scientists tell us that if sea levels continue to rise, we may lose large pieces of land to the ocean in the coming generations, if not all of it. I feel the despair of it deep in my bones.
Last year, the United Nations released a report that said the world will be at a strong risk of crisis as early as 2040 when there will be a mass dying off of coral reefs, worsening food shortages, and increased number of wildfires. Climate change is not just stripping small low- lying communities of abundant life, it is doing so all over the world and very much so here in Oregon, too.
As people of faith, integral to our identity is caring for God’s beloved earth and all that is on it so that all may have abundant life. God invites us daily to live with intention about the decisions we make that impact people and planet. For example, raising questions like why the US alone contributes 15% of the world’s carbon emissions while all the pacific island nations combined contribute just 0.03%. What decisions are we making about what we buy, how we get places, and even how we celebrate and how are they reflective of our faith and our commitment to God?
I’ll be honest that in some ways, I feel I’m doing okay in my everyday choices to reduce my impact on the earth, but in many more ways, I’m making poor decisions. Sustainable living is a part of our life-long journey of faith but it takes tremendous effort in our culture of convenience and consumption. I would love nothing more than for us to share this journey together. I want to learn from those of you that have spent decades reducing your footprint and I want to hear from those of you that feel that desire to make a change but don’t know where to start. This Sunday, February 3, join us at 9 am and 10:30 am after services in the main office, join me and Thiel Larson in sharing your current sustainable living practices, practices you would like to start, the hurdles of living sustainably, and your hopes for yourself and our community. Our hope is that we can then offer the entire congregation to join in adopting a few of your sustainable living practice ideas throughout 2019 so that we may travel this journey together.
Let us not give in to despair or complacency in this environmental crisis, but follow the God of life as faithfully as we know how toward hope and restoration.
With gratitude and love for each of you,