You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. – Psalm 65:9-11 (NIV)
Today is St. Nicholas Day, when we remember and revere the saint who righted social wrongs in 4th century Turkey and became the beloved Santa Claus of immortal memory. He is most famous for throwing bags of gold through the windows of poor dowryless girls by night, so that they could marry instead of being forced into prostitution. A simple solution to a vexing problem.
The movement to avert climate catastrophe due to human activity is often framed in dire world-ending terms, as a vexing problem with no simple solutions. Some Christians even advocate hastening the earth’s destruction to bring on what they believe will be God’s new order, as if God were a Santa handing out new toys to spoiled children who have broken theirs in a fit of pique.
Other theologians say that heaven is earth, continued. What we do now, we will keep doing for eternity. Any earth-healing activity lays a red carpet for Christ’s joyful return.
But what can one person do to heal the earth? A lot, it turns out. Simple habits and commitments can have wide-ranging impact.
Like: committing to cooking at home (or batch cooking in the church kitchen!), using mostly plants, and not throwing food away.
Like: doing errands on your bike, and making your next car electric.
Or here’s an epiphany: you can change literally every light bulb in your home to LEDs, then offering to do the same for your elderly or low-income neighbor. Maybe it’s a little like throwing a bag of gold through their window, the spirit of Saint Nicholas alive in you.
Maker of heaven and earth, do not let this world pass away until we get one more chance to do right by it. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church UCC in Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church, Standing Naked Before God, and her newest baby, Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World.