Creation - Not for Sale: Climate Change Presents an Opportunity for Spiritual Renewal
We are in the middle of our commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation under the theme Liberated by God’s Grace. One of the sub-themes we are using is Creation—Not for Sale.
My connection to this theme is rooted in my faith and my belief that all that exists was created by God and is loved by God.
When I am home, in the appropriate seasons, I enjoy spending time in my garden every day. Looking at flowers, plants, soil and birds, I am reminded of the delicate balance of sun, rain, wind and earth that allows an amazing diversity of life to thrive in my backyard and in various lands around the world. I say a prayer of wonder and thanks for God’s gift of life.
I live on Treaty 1 territory in Winnipeg. From voices of Indigenous leaders who speak of a deep relationship with, and connection to, the land, I hear a call to more awareness of my connection to creation and to make choices that are kinder to the ecosystem.
As National Bishop, it is my privilege to travel across Canada and around the world as I represent the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. My connection to climate change comes from the stories I hear, stories of how people love their home and the land where they live. And stories of how people’s livelihood is being threatened by climate change.
In October 2015, I had the opportunity to be part of a meeting on Sami territory in Sweden entitled Future of Life in the Arctic—The Impact of Climate Change, Indigenous and Religious Perspectives. People of the North are witnessing the effects of climate change first-hand. We heard about the connection between the suffering of the land and its effects on traditional livelihoods, the mental health, identity and well-being of all who live there.
We learned that climate change constitutes the single most important threat to food security due to the changed and changing environment, disrupted migratory patterns and the high cost and limited availability of market foods. Climate justice for the Arctic is a spiritual issue and the power to change comes from spiritual sources. Climate justice is intergenerational, needs to include the peoples of the Arctic, and calls for common but differentiated responsibilities.
These are some of the reasons I signed onto the interfaith climate change letter to world leaders:
Climate change presents our global family with the opportunity to embark on a path of spiritual renewal defined by deeper awareness and greater ecological action. Every act to protect and care for all beings connects us to one another, deepening the spiritual dimension of our lives. We must reflect on the true nature of our interrelationship to the Earth. It is not a resource for us to exploit at our will. It is a sacred inheritance and a precious home which we must protect. United with the shared hope that arises from faith, we the undersigned believe that the means, desire, and will to care for Earth and all life can and will become action as our political leaders ratify the promises made in Paris—and thus safeguard the greater promises of this generation and of all those to come.
The choices we make have global consequences. It is an ethical matter to reduce carbon emissions in order to reduce the harm being done to other people. For me, the duty to reduce this harm is rooted in God’s call and command to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” To live out this calling, we will need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develop a low-carbon economy, and assist those most directly impacted by climate change.
Proclaiming Creation—Not for Sale is one thing. Living it out is much more challenging. What ways are you living out this challenge?
National Bishop Susan Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada