Is It Too Late to File for a Change of Venue?
Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with [God’s] people, and will contend with Israel. – Micah 6:1-2 (NRSV)
Sometimes I imagine God as a judge robed in authority, tasked with rendering justice. While human judges may be cruel, God will balance mercy with stricture. God is a judge who is ever more ready to forgive than I am to even ask for forgiveness. A defendant’s dream!
Yet, in the prophet Micah we see God hand off the judge’s gavel entirely. And who takes up the role of judge instead? The mountains and the hills and the very foundations of the earth. God prosecutes a case against the people, with creation itself as the judge.
Uh oh. Is it too late to file a motion for change of venue?
God’s good creation spirals into chaos with human-caused climate change standing accused. And in the case of environmental devastation, the judge has us dead to rights. We’re guilty. We’ve moved on to the penalty phase.
Creation has no sense of mercy. CO2 concentrations don’t take extenuating circumstances into account. We’ve got—perhaps—10 years to get our act together before sentencing, before the worst effects of climate change are locked in for life.
Thank God we cannot fall back on God’s good graces here. Thank God for a stern judge who only deals in facts. Because the path forward is clear: our resolve will need to be as enduring as the mountains, as deep as the very foundations of the earth.
God, help us get our act together.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.