Rev. Margaret Bullit-Jonas, Missioner of Creation Care for Episcopal Diocese of Western MA and Mass Conference United Church of Christ
“How does our heart change, when we begin to care not only
for our children and grandchildren but for future generations? ”
A while back, I attended a Conservation Committee Meeting as sponsored by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). Held after work hours in a business office in downtown Boston, I was the last one to arrive (having taken the T from the “burbs”). I was also the oldest person there. And not just by a few years either. 🙂
After sitting down, I was asked to introduce myself. Smiling, the chair asked, “Tell us not only your name and your work experience but why you’re here.” So taking a deep breath, I told them my name and work experience. In other words, I am an Ordained Minister with the United Church of Christ.
You couldn’t have heard a pin drop. So after a long pause, the chair then ventured to ask, “So why are you here?”
Mind you, from the moment I joined the meeting that night; everyone was friendly. So it wasn’t like I was unwelcome. And clearly, everyone around that table was not only young and quite talented, but wholly committed to conservation and combatting climate change. But generally speaking and in particular, since the outcome of the 2016 election – there is this assumption that those who profess to be Christians may be concerned about other-worldly matters – but the environment and thereby the fate of future generations is not our concern
…which is not only scripturally and theologically inaccurate but morally indefensible. So what did I say that night? It is difficult but admitting the chasm that exists between fundamentalist and progressive Christians in terms of acknowledging AND combatting the effects of climate change – without self-justification – is an essential first step. Why? Because the biblical directive to “love thy neighbor” isn’t just about caring for those close to us. Or even in this generation.
Instead, could “loving thy neighbor,” mean a radical change of the heart? A systemic change that alters our perception and shifts our priorities. A way of living that embraces God’s world as sacred, and our neighbor as encompassing today, tomorrow and the future; and thereby becoming an advocating love for future generations.