This sermon was given by The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, LSW, at The Church of the Nativity and St. Stephen’s, Newport, PA, on January 21, 2018, the third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B (lectionary page) and is part of the 1000 Teachings #EachGeneration movement, and we’re delighted that she has shared it with all of us.
And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:18
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that 2017 was one of the warmest years on record since weather records have been kept, which began in 1880. Kay Cramer also sent the Environmental Stewardship Committee a link to a carbon calculator and I once again calculated my carbon footprint.
I have been trying to reduce my personal carbon footprint over the past few years. I drive a pretty fuel efficient vehicle and often walk to the church rather than drive. I love to hang my clothes out to dry when the weather is conducive to do so. I choose sustainable electricity through PA PowerSwitch. If offered, I choose carbon offsets when I fly or take the train. And last summer, I installed a heating/cooling system similar to what we have here in the church. The new system runs on electricity, which in my case is using a sustainable electricity source. My fuel oil furnace is a backup when it’s especially cold.
So, while I’ve personally reduced my carbon footprint, it turns out it’s still 17.30 metric tons. What’s known as our secondary carbon footprint is the highest part of my footprint at 6.07 metric tons. This is carbon created when I use banks for credit card payments or buy clothing and shoes, use my cell phone or buy electronic equipment.
Next comes my car at 5.56 metric tons for nearly 21,000 miles during the year. Finally, comes my home at 5.51 metric tons, mostly from my oil furnace. My 17.30 metric tons of carbon is nearly one ton more than the average for a person in the United States and it is over 14 metric tons greater than the average for a person in the world! The amount I should try to be at is 2 metric tons per year in order to combat climate change!
I do have urgency around addressing climate change and doing my part.
In our Gospel today we hear more about how Jesus called his disciples. What struck me as I read this passage is that when Jesus asked a person to follow him, according to Mark, they IMMEDIATELY followed him. They dropped whatever they were doing and followed him.
They didn’t run a background check on Jesus, first. They didn’t gather their advisers together and discuss whether they should follow Jesus or not. They didn’t find their job replacement. They didn’t check it out with the government or religious authorities of their time… they just stopped their lives and followed him.
Somehow they knew that being in the presence of this man from Nazareth was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Somehow they knew that following Jesus was necessary for life, not only for themselves, but also for those around them. Maybe they didn’t fully understand all of this, but they knew that following Jesus was the most important action they could take in their lives.
There was an urgency about being with Jesus…about being in his presence. God had come into the world and the most important thing was to follow him…to be near him.
This past week, I learned about some young people who live in that same urgency of those long ago disciples. They live in urgency about continued human life on this planet that God has created for us; this earth that has everything we need for our lives.
In 2015, these 21 young people who are now ages 10-21, filed a lawsuit against the government of the United States. They charged that the government’s failure to address climate change robbed them of their future. The lawsuit states that this group of young people:
…represent the youngest living generation, beneficiaries of the public trust. Youth Plaintiffs have a substantial, direct, and immediate interest in protecting the atmosphere, other vital natural resources, their quality of life, their property interests, and their liberties. They also have an interest in ensuring that the climate system remains stable enough to secure their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, rights that depend on a livable future. A livable future includes the opportunity to drink clean water, to grow food, to be free from direct and imminent property damage caused by extreme weather events, to benefit from the use of property, and to enjoy the abundant and rich biodiversity of our nation. Pg 40 No. 96
By 2100, these Youth Plaintiffs (many of whom should still be alive), and future generations, would live with a climate system that is no longer conducive to their survival. No. 97
These young people are urgently trying to save our home. They are not waiting around to see what happens next. They are taking action immediately.
And lest you think that only the young are fearful of losing their future, another article I read recently reported on a study that showed that day-to-day increases in air pollution, even at what are considered acceptable levels, cause the deaths of approximately 20,000 people who are elderly each year…that is more deaths than caused by HIV/AIDS.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we understand urgency. We understand immediacy. Let us join these young people in protecting and preserving the wonderful world God has created for us.
Rev. Rebecca includes the following links with her sermon on the Church of the Nativity and St. Stephens website
- New York Times Article on 2017 weather
- Carbon footprint calculator (click on calculate)
- Read more about the 21 young people in the lawsuit
- Read the lawsuit itself.
- Article on pollution and death