“Then YHWH formed a human creature from the dust of the ground, and breathed into nostrils the breath of life, and the human creature became a living being. And YHWH planted a garden in the East: Eden, ‘Land of Pleasure.'” – Genesis 2:7-8
Sometimes my kids ask me: Mom, if you could live in any age, what age would you live in? Totally this one, I say. Hello: vaccinations! antibiotics! The likelihood is too great, in some former age, that I would be pulling beets out of the earth twelve hours a day and then die of dysentery in some Godforsaken backwater at the age of 37 after burying ten of my children. I love to pull beets out of the earth, but I want to do it as a hobby. When I’m 82.
I could choose to live at a time after this, but who knows? Maybe we will wreck the planet. Our best modeling regarding climate change can’t predict exactly what’s going to happen and when. But all the same, it is very likely that by pure coincidence—or God working anonymously—that you and I get to live in this razor-thin slice of human civilization that is the most comfortable, the most sane, the most peaceful, the most free. Not to mention: Tempurpedic mattresses! Kale chips! Nonstop flights to Cancun!
It could be that our kids and grandkids will not get to experience the earthly comfort and blessings we do. We are sucking all the best juices out of the earth, and leaving it bone-dry for everyone coming after us.
When we make baptism promises to the children in our churches, we promise to care for them and provide a community for them where they can grow healthy and strong. But are we really making those promises with integrity if we keep on living the way we are on the earth?
Will our children ask us someday, how could you sit by and do nothing?
Will our children ask us someday, how could you not know the world was ending?
We don’t want to be the ones to turn the light out on the earth. It’s just not fair.
God, once upon a time you breathed into Earth, and we began to breathe, too. Make us co-conspirators—literally, “co-breathers” with you in the healing of ourselves and the Earth for all generations. Amen. [To act in addition to praying, read up on this resolution for General Synod 2015, on moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy.]
Molly Baskette is senior minister of First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA. She is the author of Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too, and the just-published Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession.