It's God's World: Christians, Care for Creation, and Global Warming


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It's God's World: Christians, Care for Creation, and Global Warming

  1. 1. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global Warming Contents 1 Session 1: “And God Saw That It Was Good” 2 Session 2: “The Whole Creation Groans” 4 Session 3: “Standing at the Crossroads” 7 Session 4: “Reconciling the World” 10 Session 5: “A New Heaven and a New Earth” 13 This resource, first published in 1997 by the National Council of the s The Global Warming Strategy and Churches of Christ in the USA, was Information Packet contains a written by Vera K. White, a Christian variety of materials you can use in Educator and revised in 2002 by your congregation. Order number members of the Eco-Justice Working EJ9900. Price $3.00. Group of the NCCC. s God’s Creation and Global The Eco-Justice working Group Warming is a 12 minute video consists of representatives of tape on the nature of the problem twenty-three participating Protestant and why people of faith care and Orthodox communions. For more about it. It is an excellent supple- information on the Eco-Justice Working ment to this study. Order number Group go to EJ 0017. Price $10.00. The phone numbers are 212-870-2385 These materials can be ordered or 2386. The address is 475 Riverside from Environmental Justice Resources, Drive, New York, NY 10115. National Council of Churches, PO Those who wish suggestions on Box 968, Elkhart, Indiana 46515, how to respond to climate change 800-762-0968. in their own homes, in congregations and by joining with others as well as updates on important federal Scripture quotations are from the legislation are urged to join the New Revised Standard Version of the Interfaith Climate Change Network. Bible copyrighted 1989 by the Division of Learn more by going on line at Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the Those using this resource are USA and are used with permission. also encouraged to order the following:
  2. 2. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingIntroduction We have been hearing a lot s As Psalm 24 tells us, “the One of the most challenging isabout threats to the environment. earth is the Lord’s and all that global warming: a rise in theIs this merely the opinion of envi- is in it.” We are called by God earth’s temperature because gasesronmental fanatics or is our world to treasure and care for the that trap heat are being added tofacing real crises? earth as a sacred trust. the atmosphere by human activity. Often people tune out the Global warming has beenwarnings. It’s so confusing. It s Jesus instructed us to “love hard to detect with certainty. Itscan’t be that bad. It’s a shame our neighbor as ourselves.” effects are delayed. It is irre-other people are trashing the Harm to the earth brings versible on a human time, but what does this have to harm to people, and we are Everything on earth will bedo with me. There are enough responsible for each other’s affected in ways that cannot bepressing social problems to keep well being. known until they happen. Theme busy for a lifetime. What s God requires that we deal only way to slow global warminggood does it do to worry about justly with one another. is to stop adding more heat-trap-the environment? The earth is a Environmental harm falls ping gases to the atmosphere.big place and one person can do most heavily on the poor, and This won’t happen unless we allvery little. will fall even more heavily on resolve to act together, in our per- It is understandable that peo- those yet to be born. sonal lives, in our local communi-ple react this way. But Christians ties, and in the global community.cannot ignore the prospect that We are only now coming tothe environment is being serious- recognize many of the ways ourly harmed by our industrial/con- industrial/consumer society issumer way of life. harming the earth and its people. Using This Resource This resource contains five sessions designed to help Christians make some sense of the issues relating to global warming from the perspective of their faith. For each session there is a suggested format for a one-hour study session. Leaders may want to adapt the study to fit another time frame. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation, and Global Warming can be used: s by an adult church school class s by a women’s group or men’s group s as part of a retreat s for personal study and devotions s by an adult Bible study group s for an environmental justice group s for a Lenten study s for an ecumenical study group s as the basis for a sermon series A chalkboard or newsprint pad will be useful for the leader, and each participant will need a Bible. Please photocopy the pages of this resource you will need for group study. It’s God’s World 1
  3. 3. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingSession 1: “And God saw that it was good.” include: Jesus (Matthew 4:1- 11), John the Baptist (Matthew Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2:3, Psalm 148 3:1-6), Moses (Exodus 3:1-6, Theme: The earth was lovingly created by God who called it 19:1-6), Hagar (Genesis 16:6- “good.” The creation exists in a delicate balance, suitable to the 13), Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-15), nurturing of all life. We experience the nature of God through etc. the creation. If people are not able to sug- gest examples themselves, ask Materials Needed: volunteers to look up some of the s Bibles Bible passages. s newsprint and marker or chalkboard and chalk 10 minutes Ask a volunteer to s copies of page 3 read aloud Genesis 1:1-2:3. Since this reading is long, you may choose to have two readers readSession Plan alternate verses. Lead a group discussion using the following20 minutes Open with prayer. Comment that nature is com- questions:Introduce yourself. Introduce the plex and at times seems unpre- 1. What parts of God’s creationtheme of the study, It’s God’s dictable to human beings. are “good” and what makesWorld: Christians, Care for Creation Destruction can be a part of the them good?and Global Warming, using some natural world. Then ask the fol- 2. What does this suggest aboutinformation from the Introduction lowing questions: how humans are to treat theon page 1. Describe the theme of 1. When have you experienced creation?session 1. the fearsome or destructive Ask participants to introduce 15 minutes Ask the following quality of nature and how didthemselves by telling their names questions: you feel?and describing an aspect of God’s 1. What qualities are needed for 2. What was your experience ofcreation that gives them particu- human life to flourish? God during this situation?lar joy. If your group is ecumeni- 2. What qualities are needed forcal or interfaith, you may ask 10 minutes Comment that the natural world (plants, ani-people to name their faith com- although we know that God is mals, land, etc.) to flourish?munity when giving their intro- with us always and in all places, there has been a tradition going Distribute copies of page 3.ductions. If the group is large, theintroductions can be done in back to biblical times of people Ask a volunteer to readsmall groups of 5 or 6 people having an experience of God in aloud, “What Is Climate and Howeach. Then ask these questions of the natural world. Remind the is it Shaped?” on page 3. Thenthe whole group: participants that as people of faith, lead a discussion using the we understand that the creation Questions for Discussion.1. How has the natural world made you more aware or helps us to experience God, but 5 minutes Close by reading appreciative of God? we do not worship the creation. Psalm 148 responsively by2. How does nature help you to Ask : dividing the group into halves understand the character of s What examples can you name and have the two groups read God? of biblical characters who have alternate verses. encountered God within the natural world? Examples may 2 It’s God’s World
  4. 4. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingWhat is Climate and How is it Shaped? Climate is the sum of all the that absorb some of the earth’s The carbon cycle is only one ofweather conditions in a certain heat that would otherwise escape many biological cycles that helpplace over a period of years. It into space. For thousands of years create stable conditions on theincludes all the variations in daily there has been just enough CO2 in earth so that living communitiesand seasonal weather, and unusu- the atmosphere to keep the earth can events such as tornadoes, about 60 degrees F warmer than When people hear about cli-floods or droughts. Climate is it would otherwise be. This heat- mate change, they often thinkshaped by complex interactions trapping feature of CO2 is called about what’s been happeningamong many factors. These the greenhouse effect, and it is with the weather. But weatherinclude the sun’s energy, the rota- necessary for life as we know it. and climate are two different con-tion of the earth, and conditions CO2 has another vital func- cepts. Weather changes constant-in the atmosphere, the oceans, tion. It provides carbon needed ly - by the hour, day, season andand on land surfaces. Climate by plants to make cells through year. Climate changes too. Untilseems to vary from year to year, photosynthesis. Because of pho- recently, any climate changes thatbut over a period of years it is tosynthesis, carbon circulates occurred were due to naturalusually quite stable. over time between the atmos- causes: shifts in the intensity of The earth’s climate system is phere and the biosphere, which is the sun’s rays, the position of thedriven by the light and heat of the made up of all living things and earth in relation to the sun, andsun. Warmed by the sun, the the organic matter they create. the shape and location of the con-earth sends heat back toward Plant growth helps regulate the tinents. As climates graduallyspace. The atmosphere contains amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. change, plant and animal speciesvery small quantities of carbon Plankton in the ocean and forests evolve new forms to adapt to newdioxide (CO2), and even smaller on land are particularly important conditions, and the wonders ofquantities of a few other gases in balancing the carbon cycle. God’s creation continue to unfold.Before Industrialization: The Greenhouse effect Questions for discussion 1. From your reading of Genesis 1:1-2:3 and “What Is Climate and How is it Shaped?”what can you gather about God’s intentions for the balance of nature? 2. What is the greenhouse effect? 3. How does God provide for the survival of all living species? 4. What do you think happens to the created world when thisThe atmosphere, containing carbon dioxide (CO2), and other gases, acts balance is disrupted?as a blanket trapping just enough of the sun’s heat so life can flourish andpermitting the extra heat to escape into space. It’s God’s World 3
  5. 5. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingSession 2 “The whole creation groans” Scripture: Genesis 1:27-31, Genesis 2:4-9, 15-25, Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 24, Leviticus 25:1-12, Romans 8:18-28, Genesis 8:22, Psalm 104:27-29, Psalm 74:16-17 Theme: Humans are called to be servant-stewards of creation. Because they have neglected this call, the earth is suffering from accelerated climate change that is having harmful effects on many parts of creation. Materials Needed: s Bibles s copies of pages 5 and 6Session Plan5 minutes Open with prayer. Bring the entire group back 3. How do you think humanReview session 1. Introduce the together, and ask the small beings have done in their roletheme of session 2. groups to report on their discus- as servant-stewards of God’s sions. Then ask the participants: creation?20 minutes Divide the partici-pants into five small groups. s What have you learned 18 minutes Read aloud “HumanAssign to each small group one of about the role that human Creatures as Part of the Whole ofthe following scripture passages: beings are called to play Creation” on page 6. Read aloud within the creation? Romans 8:18-25. Use Questions s Genesis 1:27-31 for Discussion No. 2 to lead a 17 minutes Distribute copies of s Genesis 2:4-9, 15-25 group discussion. Pray the uni- pages 5 and 6. Ask a volunteer son prayer on page 6. s Genesis 9:8-17 to read aloud the article, “Global Warming: the Human s Psalm 24 Factor” while others follow s Leviticus 25:1-12 along. Ask the group to look at the two drawings on page 5. Have each small group meet Then ask the following ques-for ten minutes, reading its pas- tions:sage aloud and discussing 1. What is climate change?Questions for Discussion No. 1. 2. How does human activity upset the balance of creation? 4 It’s God’s World
  6. 6. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingGlobal Warming: The Human Factor In 2001, 2500 scientists of the be able to adapt to changes that will increase, creating more fre-International Panel on Climate occur so quickly. Human activi- quent and severe heat waves andChange (IPCC) officially con- ties are also adding other green- heavier storms and floods.firmed what many expected was house gases to the atmosphere, Extreme events will damagehappening: humans are contribut- like methane, nitrogen dioxide, crops and limit the ability of nat-ing to rapid climate change due to and synthetic chemicals. Though ural systems to adapt. The distri-our expanding numbers and tech- the amount of these other gases is bution of vegetation and wildlifenologies. When automobiles, much less than CO2, they absorb is already beginning to shift.power plants and industries burn more heat than CO2, thus adding With rising temperatures, insectsfossil fuels, carbon is added to the significantly to the size and com- and rodents that carry diseasesatmosphere. Since the middle of plexity of the problem. move into new areas. Recent USthe last century, the concentration Scientists are certain that the outbreaks of dengue fever, malar-of CO2 in the atmosphere has earth is warming, but there is no ia, and encephalitis have beenbeen increasing steadily, and the way to be certain about the rateearth has warmed about 1 degree or effects of future warming. The linked to climate change.F. There has also been a rise in sea IPCC projects that there will be an Scientists have estimated thatlevel of about 7 inches, and global increase in global temperature of greenhouse gas emissions mustprecipitation has been increasing. 3 - 10 degrees F and a rise in sea be reduced by at least 60% to sta- The climate change that is level of 10 - 30 inches by 2100. bilize their concentrations in thenow occurring is different from Over land and at higher latitudes, atmosphere, and that globalearlier episodes of climate change temperatures are apt to increase warming and its effects willdue to the speed of global warm- more than the global average. become increasingly severe untiling. Plants and animals may not Evaporation and precipitation emissions are reduced.Before Industrialization TodayThe atmosphere, containing carbon dioxide, (CO2) and A thicker atmospheric blanket has been created as weother gases, acts as a blanket trapping much of the add carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions fromneeded warmth provided by the sun and permitting automobiles, power plants and industries which burnonly some of the sun’s ray’s to escape back to outer fossil fuels. More heat from the sun is being This is warming the earth and causing climate changes. It’s God’s World 5
  7. 7. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingHuman Creatures as Part of the Whole of Creation Climate change reminds us Humans are creatures whosethat we are frail creatures in a life flourishes only as they respect Questions for Discussion # 1world of precarious balance their connection with the whole.ordained and sustained by the Eating and even breathing remind 1. How are human beings calledCreator. According to the biblical us of our dependence on the to treat creation?witness, God’s creation is both cycles of nature.... With our 2. How have human beingsreliable and fragile. “As long as unique freedom, however, we violated creation?the earth endures, seedtime and tend to forget or deny our contin-harvest, cold and heat, summer uing dependence on the rest of 3. According to this reading,and winter, day and night, shall creation. The patterns of behavior what is the hope fornot cease” (Gen. 8:22). But God’s and industry that we establish for humankind and for creation?creation is reliable only for the ourselves are often at odds withreason that God guarantees its the ecological cycles into which Questions for Discussion # 2order. Everything on earth owes they need to fit. These cycles haveits life to God and depends on their own time scales that we can- 1. What does this scriptureGod’s faithfulness. “These all not change; particularly important passage suggest about thelook to you to give them their are the times required for nature’s relationship of God to thefood in due season....When regenerative processes. entire creation?you...take away their breath, they Accelerated climate change 2. What does it suggest aboutdie and return to their dust” (Ps. demonstrates dramatically the the relationship of human104:27-29). disruption that comes when beings to the rest of the Many biblical passages praise human agency violates natural creation?God for maintaining and con- processes. We human beings havestantly renewing the order of cre- transgressed the cycles of nature 3. What examples from contem-ation. “Yours is the day, yours that provide the framework for all porary life can you give thatalso the night; you established created life. show a proper relationshipthe luminaries and the sun, you between human beings and (From, “Human Creatures as Part the creation? What exampleshave fixed all the bounds of the of the Whole of Creation,” Sign of can you give that showearth; you made summer and Peril, Test of Faith: Accelerated human abuse of the creation?winter” (Ps. 74:16-17). As human Climate Change, WCC, 1993, p. 32.)beings, we have to respect thisorder if we are to live on earth.When the limits set by God aretransgressed, the fragile balancecan easily be broken. Climate Unison Prayerchange drives this lesson home. Itmakes the vulnerability of human Creator of the Universe, your creation is too wonderfulexistence plain and suggests that and great for our small and finite human minds to compre-when humans think of them- hend. We find that the only response to the magnificence ofselves as masters of creation they creation we can muster is a humble awe. O God help us tohave taken the course of self- realize our smallness in the face of a vast universe. Help usdestruction. to join in the rest of your creation in singing your praises to eternity. Amen. 6 It’s God’s World
  8. 8. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingSession 3 “Standing at the Crossroads” 20 minutes Read responsively Biblical background: Hosea 4:1-3, Jeremiah 4, 6:13-16 the litany on page 9 that is based on Jeremiah 4. Suggest that one of Theme: Theme: Human greed and misuse of resources are the lessons we can learn from the among the causes of global warming. Christians in the US have book of Jeremiah is that there is a special responsibilities. People of faith confess their sins against time to complain. Such complain- the Creator and seek the shalom and healing of God’s creation. ing is called lamentation in Materials Needed: Jeremiah and elsewhere in the Bible, and it consists of crying out s Bibles against injustice. Create your own s newsprint and marker or chalkboard and chalk lamentation in a responsive read- s copies of pages 8 and 9 ing format using the following process: 1. Ask participants to tell aboutSession Plan their biggest fears or sadnesses concerning the abuse of cre-5 minutes Begin with prayer. 1. How do the values of our cul- ation? Make a list of the ideasReview sessions 1 and 2. ture get in the way of caring offered on newsprint.Introduce the theme of session 3. for creation? 2. Choose one line from Jeremiah 2. How faithful has the church 4 to repeat as a response.10 minutes Distribute copies of been in caring for creation? Consider using one of the fol-pages 8 and 9. Read aloud Hosea4:1-3 as participants follow along. 3. What is the connection lowing: “The earth shallThen read verse 3 only and pause between care for creation and mourn” (4:28) or “I looked onto ask “Why?” Tell the group personal or congregational the earth, and lo, it was wastethat verse two gives an answer. spiritual growth? and void” (4:23) or “I cannot Read verse two. Ask “Why?” keep silent” (4:19).Explain that verse one contains an 10 minutes Ask volunteers to 3. Alternate a statement createdanswer. Read aloud verse one. read aloud “Global Warming and from the list of concerns men- the Community of Nations” on tioned by the group with the Read the responsive reading page 9. Ask these questions: response line. Write theon page 8 as a group. Use theQuestions for Discussion to lead a 1. What is the responsibility of responsive reading on a chalk-group discussion. wealthy, highly-developed board or newsprint. Suggest nations such as the United that the lament be used as part10 minutes Ask a volunteer to States in responding to climate of a worship service at yourread aloud the article “Christian issues? church.Care for Creation” On page 8.Lead a group discussion using 2. What responsibility do you 5 minutes Read responsively thethe following questions: think the church has regarding lament that the group has written. global warming and the com- Then read aloud “Declaration of munity of nations? Hope” on page 8. It’s God’s World 7
  9. 9. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global Warming Responsive reading Leader: “The land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals Questions for Discussion and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing.” (Hosea 4:3) Why do the 1. According to this passage, what land and its creatures suffer? are some results of turning our backs on God? People: “Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed 2. What is the relationship between follows bloodshed.” (Hosea 4:2) faithfulness to God and the pros- perity of the creation? Leader: But why should such terrible things occur? People: “There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land.” (Hosea 4:1b) Declaration of Hope Christian Care for Creation We have been guilty of greed and materialism. We have abused The Christian church of Church Facilities, con- and abandoned the creation that has been criticized for being cludes that “prayer must God called good. Jeremiah con- slow to show concern for pave the way for any last- demned the people of ancient the ecological problems fac- ing ecological changes. We Judah with these words: “From ing our world. Yet people cannot grow in any sub- the least to the greatest of them of faith have a unique rea- stantial caring for creation everyone is greedy for unjust son to care about the natur- without a corresponding gain.... They have treated the increase in our caring for wound of my people carelessly, al world and Christians saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there have taken the lead in help- the Creator.” is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:13-14) ing our society to deal with Those of us who live in many forms of injustice. the US constitute about 4% Yet God’s promises are true Because of our faith, we of the world population. and eternal. God responds to understand that healing the Our nation produces 21% unfaithfulness with these words: earth is a spiritual issue. of the annual global emis- “Stand at the crossroads, and The selfishness and greed sions, more than any other look, and ask for the ancient that have contributed to country. As Christians we paths, where the good way lies; damaging the earth also have a special responsibili- and walk in it, and find rest for separate us from God and ty. Let us begin to remove your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16) from each other. Frederick the beam from our own eye We are standing at a cross- W. Kreuger, in his book The so we can see more clearly roads. Let us seek the good way Lord’s House: A Guide to how to help our neighbors and find healing for all God’s cre- Creation Careful Management with the speck in theirs. ation.8 It’s God’s World
  10. 10. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global Warming Global Warming and the Community of Nations A Framework Convention on Climate the Protocol was "fatally flawed," and the Change was adopted by 160 nations at the US did not participate in the negotiations. Rio, Brazil, Earth Summit in 1992. Its sets a Agreements on rules were completed in goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions Marrakech, Morocco, in November, 2001. until their concentrations in the atmosphere The Protocol is now ready for ratification. are stabilized, and provides for annual con- To take effect, the Protocol must be rati- ferences to achieve this goal. The fied by more half the industrialized nations Framework Convention was signed by for- that are responsible for more than 55% of mer President Bush, and ratified by the the world’s greenhouse pollution. This can Senate in 1993. happen without US participation. The U.S. The first major agreement under the is the only industrialized country not sup- Frame-work Convention, called the Kyoto porting the Protocol that ratified the Protocol, was negotiated in 1997 in Kyoto, Framework Convention. Japan. In it each industrialized country The agreements in Bonn and Marrakech agreed to meet a specific reduction target sent a strong signal to the global corporate by 2012, for a global reduction of 5% below community to begin reducing its green- 1990 levels. The rules to implement this house pollution. Some US states and cor- agreement were to be negotiated at later porations are setting voluntary reduction conferences. targets. But it will not be possible to reach In July 2001, in Bonn, Germany, 178 the global target of 5% reductions below nations agreed on rules to implement the 1990 levels without full US cooperation, Kyoto Protocol. This agreement was since the US is responsible for about 25% of reached even though President Bush said all greenhouse pollution. Litany (from Jeremiah 4) Leader: A destroyer of nations has set out; Leader: I looked on the earth, and lo, it was he has gone out from his place to make your waste and void; and to the heavens, and they land a waste. had no light. People: Because of this put on sackcloth, People: I looked on the mountains, and lo, lament and wail. they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and lo, there was no one at Leader: A hot wind comes from the desert all, and all the birds of the air had fled. I toward my poor people, not to winnow or looked and lo, the fruitful land was a desert. cleanse—a wind too strong for that. Leader: For thus says the Lord: The whole People: Woe to us, for we are ruined! land shall be a desolation. Leader: Your ways and your doings have People: Because of this the earth shall brought this upon you. This is your doom; mourn. how bitter it is! People: Disaster overtakes disaster, the whole land is laid waste. It’s God’s World 9
  11. 11. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingSession 4 “Reconciling the world” dip, juice, water, etc. Although there should be choices of food, Scripture: Micah 6:8, Colossians 1:15-20, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 you do not need large quantities. Theme: There is injustice in the use and distribution of the If you want to simplify the buffet, world’s natural resources. God’s plan of redemption is for the only the crackers (like Saltines) entire creation. People of faith are called to be part of God’s and water are essential plus one ministry of reconciliation and justice. more desirable treat, such as cookies. You may wish to have Materials Needed: the food covered with a tablecloth s Bibles to conceal it as people enter the s newsprint and marker or chalkboard and chalk room. s small slips of blue, pink, green, yellow, and red paper Remove the tablecloth and ask the person with the slip of red s snack items such as fresh fruit, cookies, cheese, crackers, paper to come to the buffet table fresh vegetables with dip, juice, water, etc. (see activity below) and fill a plate or napkin with s small plates or napkins snacks. Encourage that person to s tablecloth (optional) try some of everything even if he/she is not hungry. Then invite s Copies of page 12 that person to take the most com- fortable seat in the room right next to the snack table even if youSession Plan have to ask someone else to move.5 minutes As people enter the 10 minutes Ask the following When that person has fin-gathering space, give each one a question, listing the responses on ished making selections, removesmall slip of colored paper. Use newsprint: one item from the table and invitethe following colors in this ratio s What are the natural those with yellow papers to come(numbers are based on there resources upon which you up and help themselves and thenbeing 20 people in your group. depend during your daily go to their seats. (If you have cho-Adjust the numbers proportion- sen to provide a simplified snack life?ately depending on the expected table, do not remove an item atsize of the group): Choose two resources from this time.) the list, and ask: s blue: 12 slips Next, remove everything s How would your life be dif- s pink: 2 except the crackers and water, ferent if your supply of this s red: 1 and invite those with green resource were: papers to come forward and help s green: 2 • temporarily unavailable, themselves and return to their s yellow: 3 • permanently depleted, seats. Do not explain the reason for • more expensive? Finally, remove all except athe paper slips at this time. Begin few broken bits of crackers and awith prayer. Review the first three 20 minutes Prepare in advance small amount of water and invitesessions. Introduce the theme of a buffet table of snack foods such the rest of the group to come up.session 4. as fresh fruit, cookies, cheese, While they are up, remove their crackers, fresh vegetables with chairs from the room so that they will have to sit on the floor. 10 It’s God’s World
  12. 12. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global Warming Explain that the distribution If this kind of a discussion s How are Christians called toof food at your snack table rough- should occur, it can be an important respond to the needs of thosely represented the distribution of learning activity, and you probably who are suffering?material resources including food, will not want to discourage it.water, housing, fuel, and technol- However, you may find that your 10 minutes Explain that Godogy in the world. The person with time will be limited for the rest of the has a plan for the redemption ofthe red paper represented the res- session activities. all of the creation in Christ Jesus.idents of the United States and People of faith have a calling toCanada; the yellow-Europe; 10 minutes Distribute copies of be a part of that ministry of rec-green-Latin America; blue-Asia; page 12. Ask a volunteer to read onciliation. Have two volunteerspink-Africa. Write the colors and aloud the article “Global Warm- read aloud Colossians 1:15-20 andplace names on the chalkboard or ing and the Earth’s Bounty” on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Ask the fol-newsprint. page 12. lowing questions: Ask the following questions: s What is the good news for Ask these questions: s What issues of injustice are creation?1. How did you feel about the apt to be caused by global s What is the human role in the distribution of food and warming? redemption process? chairs? s What national or international2. What changes do you think conflicts might result from 5 minutes Close by reading the should have been made in the these issues? unison prayer on page 12. distribution? Read aloud the article,“Distribution of Resources” on Distribution of Resourcesthis page. Ask:s What does this inequality of Food is only one of the resources that is unequally distributed resources have to do with the in the world. abuses to the environment Plumbing is a luxury in parts of Mexico City. Human wastes which have led to global have contaminated much of the drinking water supplies, spread- warming? ing diseases.Note: During the simulation game, Many people in Africa have to gather scarce firewood eachthere may be requests or even day in order to cook their family meals on outdoor stoves ordemands that the food be shared more campfires. The deforestation is causing land erosion.equally. Allow the participants to There are people in Calcutta who have spent their entire livesdiscuss the issue without any inter- out of doors, never living in a house.ference from the leader until a resolu-tion is reached. Then ask: Technology is slow to catch on in many parts of the world. The country of Malawi has no television stations. TVs are expen-1. How did you resolve your dis- sive and hard to come by. agreement? Medical care is unavailable in many places. When available,2. Were you satisfied with the reso- it may be lacking in sterile equipment and standard medicines lution? Why or why not? we take for granted. Bicycles are luxuries in parts of China. People walk wherever they have to go or, occasionally, use public transportation. Many have never ridden in a car. It’s God’s World 11
  13. 13. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global Warming Global Warming and the Earth’s Bounty Since 1850, when CO2 levels began to rise and more severe storms are already having increase, the human population has grown from disastrous results for thousands of people each about 1 billion to 6 billion. During this time, year, especially in densely populated coastal automobiles, airplanes, refrigerators, vaccines, regions and small island states. A new kind of antibiotics , televisions and computers have refugee is emerging - the environmental become part of everyday life in the US. refugee. Many of these displaced people will gather in squatter settlements in large cities, plac- During most of the past century, food pro- ing huge strains on urban infrastructure, and duction has increased faster than population due even on international relations as nations seek to to irrigation and new technologies, but this is no protect their borders. longer happening. Yields from ocean fisheries are now declining. There are water shortages in Deaths due to heat waves compounded by many places, and the pollution of water by agri- urban air pollution are increasing. As tempera- culture and industry continues. Each year more tures rise, tropical diseases such as malaria, car- forests are cut and more garbage and trash is put ried by mosquitoes, and cholera, spread by cont- in dumps and landfills. These are the circum- aminated water, are occurring at higher latitudes stances in which global warming is beginning to among populations with little natural resistance. disrupt climate. Everyone and everything will be affected by Higher temperatures cause increased evapo- global warming, but the first victims already are ration and changing rainfall patterns. Heavier poorer nations and impoverished people who rains contribute to flooding. Inland regions are lack the technical, financial and social resources subject to more frequent and prolonged drought to adapt. In the US, those who are economically which affects farming and reduces the water disadvantaged, especially the elderly and the flow in streams and rivers. As water supplies children, will be disproportionately affected by diminish and are used more heavily, they heat waves, storms, floods, and disease. The become more susceptible to contamination. issue of global warming is not just a scientific study of temperature charts and chemical con- The sea level will continue to rise because centrations. It’s also a story of God’s children ocean water expands as it warms and because facing homelessness, disease, and starvation. glaciers are melting. Flooding due to sea level Unison Prayer O God of heaven and earth, you desire a reconciliation of the whole creation. We confess that we too often make choices that separate and destroy. Forgive us our selfish ways. Help us to seek justice, O God, and to walk humbly beside you as we seek a life that is more simple and more centered on You. Help us to join joyfully in your work of bringing new life to a broken world. Amen.12 It’s God’s World
  14. 14. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingSession 5 “A new heaven and a new earth” on page 16. Ask each group to discuss the following question Scripture: Jeremiah 6:16, Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Isaiah which should be written on the 65:17-25, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Rev. 21:1-4 chalkboard or newsprint: Theme: God is creating a new heaven and a new earth and calls s What does this story teach us to joyful participation in the ministry of redemption and rec- about how congregations or onciliation. Christian groups can work to Materials needed: restore God’s creation, slow global warming, and promote s Bibles justice? s newsprint and marker or chalkboard and chalk Then have each group report s copies of pages 14, 15, 16, 17 what they have learned to the s pencils whole group. 12 minutes Distribute pencils. Ask participants to read silently the article “What Can We DoSession Plan about Global Warming?” on page 17. After considering prayerfully8 minutes Open with prayer. aloud the articles “What Does the the commitments they feel led toReview the previous sessions. LordRequire?” and“Rediscovering make, have each person writeIntroduce the theme of session 5. Christian Teaching.” their ideas in the first section ofRead aloud Isaiah 65:17-25 and “Making a Commitment.” If vol- Then divide the group into unteers would like to tell the restRevelation 21:1-4. five small groups. Read aloud the of the group what they intend to Comment that God is introduction of “Be Glad and do, encourage them to do so.redeeming and transforming the Rejoice” on page 14. Ask each ofentire creation. Christians are the groups to read one of the sec- Then discuss actions that youblessed to be witnesses and par- tions of the article, “Be Glad and could take as a congregation orticipants in the plan for the trans- Rejoice” on pages 14 and 15. Use community group in working toforming all of creation. the discussion questions provided. heal or restore the creation, and write your ideas on the second20 minutes Explain that people When the entire group recon- part of “Making a Commitment.”of faith who become aware of the venes, ask each small group to Close by reading aloud Ezekielabuses of God’s creation feel tell something about their small 37:1-14 and praying the unisoncalled to join in the process of group discussion. prayer on page 17.restoration and rebuilding. Ask the question:Sometimes, however, Christians s What benefits can you see income to this decision reluctantly, making lifestyle changes forfearing that they are being asked the sake of God’s creation?to sacrifice the comforts and luxu-ries that the society values. 20 minutes Divide the group into four small groups. Assign to Distribute copies of pages 14 each group one of the stories toldto 17. Ask a volunteer to read in “Stories: Making a Difference” It’s God’s World 13
  15. 15. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global Warming What Does the Lord Require? “And what does the Lord require of you but s to inform ourselves about public policy relat- to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk ing to global warming at all levels - local, humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) Those regional, national and international. who love and serve God cannot help feeling con- Some may ask “why should I be making cern that the effects of global warming will be most harmful to the most vulnerable of the sacrifices? I worked hard to buy my car and my world’s people. We cannot help feeling concern house. I take pleasure in new clothes and shoes. that human activities may destroy much of the I like steak and having strawberries in February. exquisite unfolding of God’s creation on earth. Why should I change my lifestyle?” Global warming calls us all to these tasks in Our society tells us to seek fulfillment our personal lives and as US citizens: through material goods. We are urged to find community in shopping malls and happiness in s to take responsibility in our own choices and our possessions. But if we examine our experi- actions before expecting or demanding this ences carefully, they give us a different message of others; entirely. Lasting fulfillment and joy seldom s to reduce our use of energy and of things we comes from acquiring new possessions, but from don’t really need that require energy to make pursuing a vision, serving others, sharing time and to use; and experiences with those we love, and discov- s to help those in need improve their quality of ering God’s presence through the creation. This life without using more energy from damag- understanding is the basis for the suggestions ing energy sources; and questions in this session. Rediscovering Christian Teaching “The ecological crisis calls into question the the abundance of his possessions.’ (Luke 12:15) values of acquisition and material accumulation A simple lifestyle of sufficiency encourages coop- that pervade modern technological civilization. eration and friendship in community, enjoyment Harmony with the created order depends upon of nature, and worship of God. The ascetic tradi- an attitude of restraint toward wealth and con- tion has been a self-evident part of Christian sumption. As we seek to respond to this chal- teaching for centuries. We may rediscover its lenge, we realize that the gospels provide meaning for today. . . . ” resources which Christians in recent times have “Technology will be a blessing if it meets the largely neglected. most important needs, serves God’s created Jesus invites the disciples to a lifestyle of order, and respects the cycles of nature. simplicity sufficient for their needs. The beauty Technological development must not be regarded and the gifts of creation are for all to enjoy, but as an end in itself but as an instrument in the ser- Jesus warns against becoming slaves of the mate- vice of life. Climate change confronts us with the rial world. This leads to an illusion of security task of rediscovering technology’s servant role.” and inevitably causes injustice. ‘Take heed and guard yourselves from all (From, “Sign of Peril, Test of Faith: Accelerated covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in Climate Change,” WCC, 1993, p. 33-34.)14 It’s God’s World
  16. 16. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global Warming “Be Glad and Rejoice” Living a simpler, more God-centered lifestyle 1. In what ways has technology improved or should not be viewed as a sacrifice. Those who enhanced your life? make such changes discover rich rewards. Here 2. In what ways has technology complicated are five ways, with related questions, that living your life or made you feel you have become a more in harmony with the Creator and the cre- servant of technology? ation can enrich life: 3. What “conveniences” could you give up at 1. Living in community. Something is lacking home, work, or church to reduce energy con- in our technology-driven consumer culture. We sumption so as to care for the creation? How are rich in material possessions but we pay a big could this be done so as to enhance your price: in stress, isolation, busyness and missed experiences and relationships? opportunities to experience and celebrate the 4. Showing our faith to the world. creation. Living in community with humankind Christians are called to live joyfully in a way and otherkind and with God is essential for God intends, and to show that way to others. physical and spiritual health. Making needed lifestyle changes can be a way of 1. What recent experience have you had of witnessing to the joy of our redemption in Jesus enjoying the presence of family, of friends, of Christ. natural surroundings? 1. How might you initiate or support activities 2. Where do you find the sense of community in your church, neighborhood, or workplace that is so necessary to nurture faith? to live more in harmony with God’s creation? 3. What lifestyle changes would help you put 2. What witness can Christians make to our larg- less emphasis on things and more on experi- er society by taking on more simple and faith- ences and relationships? ful lifestyles? How might such changes set you apart from others in your neighborhood 2. Envisioning a future. Vision is one of God’s or workplace? gifts. With vision, we receive the inspiration and guidance to learn and grow, and the confidence 3. How will what you have learned about global of having something to offer others. “Without warming as a religious issue affect your atten- vision the people perish.” tion to and involvement with public policy? 1. Where to you turn to seek a vision of God’s 5. Honoring the Sabbath. Honoring the plan for the earth and your offering to fulfill Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments. The it? Bible emphasizes its importance as a gift from 2. How does your vision of God’s plan influence God for all creation, not just humans. Animals as your actions? well as humans are to rest on the seventh day. Crops are not cultivated, allowing the land to 3. How do you share your vision with others— rest, during the Sabbath year. in your family, church, community? 1. Why is the Sabbath essential for all of cre- 3. Creating a better world. Technology ation? has provided innumerable benefits to 2. How do you honor the Sabbath in your own humankind. Few of us would want to live life? without modern medicine, transportation, or communication. However, technology has 3. What happens when individuals and societies made inordinate demands upon both nature neglect to honor the Sabbath? and human nature. Read aloud Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 20:8-11. It’s God’s World 15
  17. 17. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingStories: Making a DifferenceI. The Augustana Lutheran II. Dr. Wes Jackson and the in caring for God’s creation. AtChurch Energy Conservation Land Institute meals children are urged to help themselves to only the amount ofStory Dr. Wes Jackson traded in a food that they think they can eat. At Members of Augustana promising career in botany at the the end of each meal, the foodLutheran Church in Hyde Park, University of California at scraps are weighed and the totalIllinois, decided that they needed to Sacramento to return to his 28-acre amount is announced to the wholedo more than just discuss their envi- family farm near Salina and his group. A cheer can be heard echoingronmental concerns. They took on a deep roots in the United Methodist through the dining hall at a particu-major project to reduce unnecessary Church. He and his wife Dana larly low number. The weight of dis-energy consumption within their turned the small farm into a cards is posted on a chart each building. The congregation research center for sustainable agri- culture and land stewardship. The collected food scraps arebegan with a thorough energy audit then carried to the compost centerof the church facilities to The institute looks to nature as where they are mixed with leavesmeasure the results in energy and a model for an agriculture that will and soil. In eight weeks food scrapsmoney savings. save the soil, support a diversity of have turned to soil which is then When the audit showed that life, and rebuild the endangered used for the next summer’s veg-work was needed in the areas of rural community. Dr. Jackson etable garden, illustrating to theheating, lighting, and water con- believes that modern farming with campers the cycle of food to com-sumption, the committee proposed its accent on monocropping, fossil post to soil to food again.replacing inefficient incandescent fuels and chemicals is ‘unnatural.’bulbs in the sanctuary, outdoors, and In the process both soil and human IV. Ecumenical Ministries ofin the exit signs with lower wattage community are destroyed. He Oregonhalogen and florescent bulbs. Timers claims that for every bushel of grain Rapid population growthwould also save energy on nighttime produced in America today, two threatens the quality of life thatillumination. Although some mem- bushels of soil are lost. In fact three attracts many to Portland Metrobers are skeptical when proposed billion tons of topsoil are washed Area of Oregon. Fortunately, thechanges were estimated to cost and blown away each year in the region has the means to plan for a$3,000, the congregation agreed to U.S. just and sustainable future throughauthorize the alterations. Because of the loss of topsoil its regional government, Metro, the and the high cost of agriculture, the only elected regional government in Church members provided as small family farm has all but disap- the nation.much of the labor as possible, build-ing community and deep friend- peared putting at risk the entire The Interfaith Network forships in the process. Following the rural way of life that is so much a Earth Concerns and other religiousupgrades, energy consumption had part of the American tradition. groups are giving voice to the criti-been reduced by 40 percent which III. Fowler Camp and cal moral issues involved in urbantranslation into a savings of $1,200 planning. Six religious leaders gave Conference Centeras compared with expenditures. The testimony in support of a plan to The Fowler Camp andreduction in carbon dioxide help reverse sprawl and urban Conference Center of the Reformedreleased into the atmosphere was decay which included a proposed Church in America in New York’sthe equivalent of removing ten cars light rail system designed to pro- Adirondack Mountains models afrom the streets of Chicago. vide an alternative to heavy vehicu- lifestyle “that is built upon God’s lar traffic and reduce carbon diox- Dr. Job Ebenezer, the director of command that we care and keep ide emissions. The leaders’ concernsenvironmental stewardship for the God’s earth. It is also a lifestyle that is centered on watershed protection,Evangelical Lutheran Church said, joyful and liberating and creative. It street designs promoting a sense of“If 2,000 congregations made simi- is a lifestyle of wonder!” according to community, and provision oflar renovations, it would be like tak- camp program director Ken Busman. affordable housing in all areas ofing 20,000 cars off the road, and it The camp helps children gain a the region.would save $2.4 million annually.” greater understanding of their role 16 It’s God’s World
  18. 18. It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global WarmingWhat Can We Do About Global Warming?As congregations we can...s Become an Environmental Justice Covenant efficiency of your building and equipment, and Congregation - promising to engage in environ- by curtailing unnecessary energy use. The NCC mental ministries through worship; teaching offers an Energy Stewardship Guide for and learning; congregational lifestyle; and com- Congregations that suggests steps you can take munity, national and global involvement. and resources for guidance to use less energy. Covenant Congregations receive periodic mail- s For the Energy Stewardship Guide for ings from the NCC about caring for creation. Congregations, see the Web of Creations Make a commitment to good energy stewardship ( or call 800-762-0968 in your congregation’s facilities by improving the and ask for Form EJ 9960. The price is $2.00. As individuals and families we can...s Use electricity and water, especially hot water, walk more. only when needed. s Buy the most efficient appliances, lightings Use thermostat settings and insulation to con- equipent, and cars available. serve energy with heating, air conditioning, and s Discover new ways, and rediscover old ways, to hot water heating. have fun and enjoy God’s creation without usings Use a car less and a bike, bus, train or the side- electricity or fuel.As US citizens we can...s Inform ourselves about public policy issues s Vote. relating to global warming, which may include s Write letters to industry and government officials. agriculture, defense, economics, energy, taxation, s Volunteer time with faith-based and secular citi- trade, and transportation. zens’ groups.s Attend candidate forums and ask questions.As global citizens we can...s Remember that God is the God of all creation; s Work with people of faith throughout the world there are no boundaries in the atmosphere. toward strong international agreements and sus-s Inform ourselves about negotiations and agree- tainable life-styles for all. ments to reduce greenhouse emissions.Making a Commitment Unison Prayer1. As a follower of Jesus Christ 2. As members of congregation Healing God, forgive us that we within a broken world, I can see dry bones in the places , we can where you see the full vitality of life. Help us to remember that life comes from you alone. You alone are the Creator of the universe; you alone are the Savior of the whole world. Help us to celebrate the vision of life and to tend to the needs of your world. Amen. It’s God’s World 17