Journey Toward Hope
Third Sunday of Lent: Exodus 17:1-7
As a Christian and an environmental justice activist, I am fighting to maintain my belief that hope is still alive and well in America. Keeping hope alive is challenging despite what we as believers know to be true, “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them” (Isaiah 61:8). When it comes to environmental justice, reasons for despair presently abound. As an article in the New York Times notes, over 95 environmental rules have been targeted for rollback under the current administration. Of the 95 rules, 25 were related to air pollution, relaxing tailpipe, methane, and many other toxic emissions produced by polluters.
Unfortunately, many of these environmental rollbacks impact marginalized communities—low income neighborhoods and communities of color—that are already suffering from environmental injustices. As a recent environmental justice report from the United Church of Christ on toxic air pollution makes clear, it is the children in these communities who especially suffer. Their small, developing bodies make them more vulnerable.
This is where God comes in, providing us with the hope that we need to go on and fight for what is right. In Exodus 17:1-7, God provided for the people despite their lack of faith and hope. In fact, when the people’s hope was gone, God came through with water as promised. We as believers are God’s hand, just as Moses was used by God in Exodus. In this way, we can actualize and embody hope. Hope is not simply about wishing God will rescue those in need. Hope requires action, especially from those who can stand up for those who don’t know or can’t fight for the right to breathe air without pollutants. Children especially need us to stand up for them.
During this Lenten season, look beyond yourself. Even if these rollbacks do not impact you directly, let’s be instruments of God to provide hope to those unfortunate communities suffering from polluted air, water, and other issues that impact their health. Help to provide hope to those people who could easily feel hopeless during this environmental crisis that is facing our country today.
Robin Lewis is the Minister of Social Justice and Community Outreach at Beloved Community Church UCC in Accokeek, Maryland.