Rev Gordon Scantlebury, Uniting Church WA minister and member of the Social Justice Commission, has prepared this year’s Sustainable September resources. The Uniting Church WA, through the Social Justice Commission, resources the church for Sustainable September each year as part of the World Council of Churches’ Season of Creation.
Gordon invites you to reflect and take part.
As I write, 2020 feels like a type of ‘tipping-point’ for our world. We already have around a one degree celsius increase in temperatures around the world compared to the long-term average, with all our scientific modelling telling us this will only increase. Yet our human response in addressing climate change has, to date, been piecemeal at best – and at worst, combative or dismissive.
We have pumped more carbon into the atmosphere in the last 30 years we have been aware of global warming than we did in the previous 200.
There is no denying a disrupted climate will only add to the stresses on both our human and non-human world. An increase in the number and severity of bushfires, floods, cyclones, droughts, famines and diseases are now familiar and expected scenarios, all with their resultant impacts on international relations.
Throw in the COVID-19 pandemic with all its dislocations, and 2020 starts turning into a pivotal year. How we in our humanity respond to this time of challenge will have far-reaching impacts for our world’s future.
In light of this, Sustainable September has more of an edge to it this year compared to previous years. ‘The time to act is now!’
We are encouraged to a greater urgency, a stronger reflection of our attitudes, and an increased resolve in following the way of Christ. Using the Lectionary readings, I have focused particularly on the Exodus story and how the Hebrew people were called to respond in their time of crisis. There is great urgency in the Passover story, and a call to hope in God and a renewed future above self-seeking material security in the present. Theirs’ are some of the lessons we need to apply in our own faith, in our own time.
I have also reflected on some of our learnings from our response to COVID-19.
Throughout this year we have become aware of our need to take decisive actions in addressing the spread of the virus, even though significant costs are involved. We have also become more attuned to a renewed call to respond as a whole community. ‘We are all in this together’ became a catchcry during lockdown months, and we found creative new ways to reach out to one another in relationship. Such insights from the COVID-19 pandemic are ones we can apply not only to our human society, but also in our relationship to the Earth and its creatures.
The time for decisive action is now in front of us. All of humanity and all of creation are in this together. And yes, there will be costs in changing our destructive lifestyles, but those costs are needed for our present and future good.
My hope is that we would not simply rush back to ‘business as usual’ once the viral pandemic is past. Rather, let us learn from the challenges of 2020. Let us learn from the stories of our faith, and let us help bring in a more life-giving future.
The free Sustainable September 2020 pack – ‘The time to act is now’ – includes complete worship resources for each of the Sundays in September. Alongside prayers, hymn suggestions and sermon ideas there are also complete reflections based on the lectionary readings. The resources additionally include video clips and suggested actions that can be taken up by individuals or congregations around climate change, but also with our practice in turning back our reliance on single-use plastics.
Rev Gordon Scantlebury