Reflection on the October 1st Lectionary Reading—Exodus 17: 1-17
It has been said that climate change is essentially a water issue, because it results in some places getting too much water, while other places get too little. On the one hand, you have hurricanes, floods, and rising sea levels, while on the other, you have droughts, famines, and wildfires. Some might argue that the climate movement would benefit from framing our climate crisis more in terms of water than in terms of warming temperatures. In our churches, we can also frame climate as a theological issue that takes us back to the flood waters surrounding Noah and the parched lands surrounding Moses.
This upcoming Sunday the lectionary reading places us amid the drought conditions faced by the Israelites in the wilderness. Fortunately, for them, Moses strikes the rock and the water comes out, but the point of this story is not so much about miracles as it is about God’s presence. Exodus sums up the key issue among the quarrelling Israelites in one question: "Is the Lord among us or not?"
Climate-related disasters such as hurricanes and droughts can raise theological questions borne of suffering and anguish. When faith communities seek to actively address climate issues, I believe this question becomes easier for people to readily answer in the affirmative. One can see God’s spirit moving among those educating and mobilizing God’s people for the good of others.
To learn more about the relationship between climate change and various phenomena related to water, visit Climate Signals.
To learn more about what your church can do, read about the UCCs Creation Justice Churches program.
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