December has proven to be a hot one, and while this warming is largely attributed to El Nino, climate change is heightening the severity of its impact. This Christmas may not offer the usual snowfall and sweater weather we are accustomed to, with future Decembers only getting worse as a result of climate change. And yet, there are other reasons to act on climate this holiday season.
Christmas, at its core, for churches across America, is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as noted in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke (Matthew 1:18-25/Luke 2:1-21). And while I would never deride the focus of a story so imperative to the Christian tradition, I do implore you to remember some other aspects of the Synoptic Gospels as you gather with family.
In Luke 6:31, when Jesus was asked about the treatment of others, he responded with, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." While this guidance regarded the specific treatment of enemies, it's safe to assume that Jesus would ascribe a similar approach to all humans.
As climate change increasingly threatens the most vulnerable on earth, Christians have a moral responsibility to ensure harmonious treatment of those that inhabit the land, and perhaps not exclusively humans. In Luke 12:24, Christians are taught, "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!"
This verse has traditionally been interpreted to mean that God favors humans over animals by demonstrating resource abundance for mankind, ergo validating their uniqueness. I agree, humans are unique. But if we step back from our legacy model exegesis, we can think of this verse differently and perhaps, glean something new.
There are many ways to interpret this scripture (albeit cherry picked), but have we considered the notion that human 'value' is dependent on our ecosystem's robust ability to maintain itself i.e. feed the birds? Namely, a bird's ability to survive on nothing more than God's gift, deeming an interruption of that provision, a devalue of the human condition.
Just a thought for you to mull over with some eggnog next to the fire (so long as it's a sanctioned burn day).
What scriptures are motivating you to care for God's creation this holiday season? If you need a little help, check out our partners Greenfaith.
Jesus Christ Redeems All Creation | Greenfaith
(Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son …
What does Jesus have to do with Creation?