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Climate Change –

Vulnerability, Lament
and Promise
LWF Sunday 2008

June 2008

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

God created a world of beauty and abundance for us to live in

and declared it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). In return the earth
and its inhabitants praise God in the very goodness of their
existence. Today that life is shadowed by threats to the envi-
ronment—air and water pollution, deforestation and wetland
destruction, soil erosion and desertification.
Yet, God’s promise of new life in Jesus Christ also holds prom-
ise for God’s creation. Jesus Christ embodies God’s love and
care for the world. Through the cross of Jesus, God reconciles
heaven and earth and holds them together in Christ. God’s Holy
Spirit, “the giver of life,” renews the face of the earth.
This year, as you gather for worship on LWF Sunday, I invite
you to join Lutherans from the 140 member churches of the
Lutheran World Federation in renewed repentance, commitment, Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
and hope. As we sing and pray, hear the Word and proclaim it in © ELCA

our lives, let us live to the praise of God’s glory and for the life
of God’s creation.

Bishop Mark S. Hanson

LWF President
II Gathering

Praise, Lament and Promise

“Bangladesh has In the beginning God created the heavens and Come, God, set the earth anew on its
observed some chang- the earth. foundations.
es in the climate pat- And God saw that it was good.
tern over the last few You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
decades. Disruption of In the beginning was the Word. they flow between the hills, giving drink to
the ecosystem is taking All things came into being through every wild animal; the wild asses quench
place, mostly affecting him. their thirst. By the streams the birds of the
cropping patterns and air have their habitation; they sing among the
agricultural production. In the beginning God breathed into our nos- branches. From your lofty abode you water
The livelihoods of the trils the breath of life. the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the
poor, wage laborers, And we became living beings. fruit of your work.
marginal farmers and God, the integrity of creation is endan-
other socio-economic gered. Clean water has become a com-
groups are becoming Words from Psalm 104 modity, the land is exploited, and the air
vulnerable to adverse and responses from our times is polluted. In the noise of big cities, the
effects of climate singing of the birds is silenced.
change.” Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you Come, God, let your earth see and
Mr Kamaluddin Akbar, are very great. You stretch out the heavens taste the fruit of your work anew.
RDRS Bangladesh like a tent, you set the beams of your cham-
bers on the waters, you make the clouds your You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
“Climate change or chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind, and plants for people to use, to bring forth
environmental crisis is a you make the winds your messengers, fire food from the earth, and wine to gladden the
sign of cultural failures. and flame your ministers. human heart, oil to make the face shine, and
It is a failure to submit God, in times of climate change the bread to strengthen the human heart.
human power to grace waters, clouds and winds have become God, we confess that we have turned
,and humanity to work frightening to us. We have lost our sense away from your life-giving energy. We
toward the habitation of direction, we have lost the attentive- use what we can get as if it was simply at
of the places in which ness to listen to your message. our disposal. We assume: “Let us eat and
we live on terms that Come, God, send your message anew drink for tomorrow we die.” (Isa 22:13; 1
respect both human to us. Cor 15:32). We do not know what it means
limits and the rest of to be human.
nature. This stretches You set the earth on its foundations, so that Come, God, renew our hearts with true
from being an environ- it shall never be shaken. You cover it with gladness and strength, let our face shine.
mental crisis to being the deep as with a garment; the waters stood
an immoral and unethi- above the mountains. At your rebuke they These all look to you to give them their food
cal injustice practiced flee; at the sound of your thunder they take in due season; when you give to them, they
on the land.” to flight. You set a boundary that they may gather it up; when you open your hand, they
Rev. Alfred Chana, not pass, so that they might not again cover are filled with good things. When you hide
Evangelical Lutheran the earth. your face, they are dismayed; when you take
Church in Zambia God, floods, thunderstorms and earth- away their breath, they die and return to their
quakes have shaken the earth. We lament dust. When you send forth your spirit, they
the lives of women, men and children who are created; and you renew the face of the
have died. The destruction and disorder ground. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the
make us tremble. Lord!

The LWF Department for Theology and Studies provided material for this year’s
publication. Background drawing of Mt Kilimanjaro: ©
Word III

Some Biblical Perspectives

“As we come to a clearer understanding of the ways the worship of Yahweh, they began to worship “Climate change is not
we contribute to the ecological crisis and discover the objects of material power which they had just about addressing
our resistances to change, the various understand- made from created things, and so idolized the environmental degra-
ings of the gospel in the New Testament will creature instead of the creator. […] As inequality dation; it is also about
empower us to address our human sinfulness. If and oppression grew in their society so domina- fighting poverty and
we seek to overcome our environmental problems tion and destruction came to characterize the providing for human
out of guilt or fear or anxiety about ourselves, we human relation to the land and other species.” security. […] The
will probably only make matters worse. Rather, Michael S. Northcott3 paradox of climate
transformation needs to come from the good news change—that those
of God’s redemption and liberation. We need to be who contributed least
fed by the grace and compassion and joy of God for Colossians 1:15-20 to the problem are suf-
the choices and changes that may be required of us fering most—means
in the future as we face the environmental crises.” “These verses sing out their triumphant and that adaptation fund-
David Rhoads1 alluring music between two huge and steady ing should be seen as
poles—‘Christ,’ and ‘all things.’ […] For it is here compensation rather
declared that the sweep of God’s restorative than aid.”
Genesis 1 / Job 38f. action in Christ is no smaller than the six-times Bishop Dr Wolfgang
repeated Ta panta. Redemption is the name for Huber, Germany;
“We need to challenge the popular belief that this will, this action, and this concrete Man who Archbishop Rowan
God’s primary reason for creating the earth was is God with us and God for us—and all things Williams, United
to provide humans with a home and a resource. are permeable to his cosmic redemption because Kingdom; and
Rather, earth exists as something good, in and all things subsist in him. He comes to all things Archbishop Anders
of itself. In the first chapter of Genesis, before not as a stranger, for he is the first-born of all Wejryd, Sweden
God created humans, God discovered that the creation, and in him all things were created.”
world was good and declared it so. God took Job Joseph A. Sittler4 “Over the last few
on a journey through the various realms of the years, hurricanes and
cosmos and challenged him to grasp the won- rainfall have increased
ders of creation operating quite independently Revelation 21:1-6 in Nicaragua, making
of human interests and beyond human ken.” people especially in the
Norman Habel and Cynthia Moe-Lobeda2 “Revelation 21 fulfills people’s longings for a rural areas more vulner-
dwelling with God not with a so-called ‘rap- able. Agricultural pro-
ture’ or snatching of Christians up into the air, duction is also directly
Jeremiah 5:22-28 as some modern-day apocalypticists claim, but affected, thereby
rather with God’s decent down to earth. God threatening basic food
“In this passage Jeremiah links ecological disas- will take up residence and ‘dwell’ (Greek: skene, security. Women of the
ter and exile with unfaithfulness to the laws skenoo) with people. This Greek word for ‘dwell- Nicaraguan Lutheran
and worship of Yahweh. When the Hebrews wor- ing,’ repeated twice as both noun and verb, is the Church of Faith and
shipped Yahweh they worshipped the spiritual same word as in the Gospel of John (‘The Word Hope (Iglesia Luterana
source of created and moral order. They honored became flesh and dwelt among us,’ Jn 1:14).” de Nicaragua ‘Fe y
this order when they followed the moral guide- Barbara Rossing5 Esperanza’—ILFE) have
lines in their revealed law for care of the land, begun to reflect seri-
respect for their fellow citizens and compassion 3 ously on the connec-
A Moral Climate. The Ethics of Global Warming
and justice for the poor. When they abandoned tion between climate
(Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2007), p. 13.
change, disasters and
1 4 food security.”
David Rhoads, “Reading the New Testament in the “Called to Unity”, in The Ecumenical Review 14/2
Ms Zelmira Gamboa,
Environmental Age” on: (1962), p. 177.
ILFE gender desk
2 5
For the Healing of the World. Assembly Study Book, For the Healing of the World. Assembly Study Book,
LWF Tenth Assembly, Winnipeg, 2003, pp. 234–235. LWF Tenth Assembly, Winnipeg, 2003, p. 123.
IV Communion

Intercessions We pray for those who are most to understand what it means to be
vulnerable. Extreme droughts and human. Accompany women, men and
God of life and love, heavy floods endanger the crops of children who care for their families
Out of your love you created the subsistence farmers. Cyclones and so there might be enough food, shel-
world, out of your love you continue earthquakes suddenly bring whole ter and care for everyone.
creating. Every creature is a sign of regions into a state of emergency.
your love, every being a symbol of your Enable us to act as one human family God of hope and healing,
grace. Yet the shadow of darkness and sharing the responsibility to provide The parables that Jesus told of
death makes your creation groan. food and shelter for all. Call us out of your kingdom enable us to see your
We pray for those who experi- our self-centered worries and queries purpose for this earth, the integrity of
ence the brokenness of creation, the and grant us this sense of belonging creation and humanity in your will.
disruption of life-giving relations. together, one human communion in We pray for all who feel helpless
Connect us again to your creative, justice and peace. and paralyzed in the face of the com-
loving power that we may live out of plex reality of climate change. Give
your love, that we may turn from false God of creativity and care, us a clear mind and a faithful heart
paths and walk in your ways. The coming of your spirit at to see what we need to do, and to
Pentecost brings into being a creative, know when to trust your promise that
God of justice and peace, caring Christian communion. you will not abandon your beloved
You came into this world to bring We pray for creativity and care creation but give hope and healing.
peace on earth and just relationships so that we constructively deal with We pray for all generations and the
among all peoples. Yet injustice cries the effects of climate change. Grant generations to come.
to the heavens, violence destroys us good ideas to find new solutions Your kingdom come, your will be
the earth. Climate change starkly for ecological problems, help us to done on earth as in heaven.
displays the inequities: Those who make courageous efforts to abandon
destroy least, are suffering most. life-destroying practices. Enable us

Great Thanksgiving enlivening the barrenness, breathing bread and wine, wheat and grapes. We
spirit across the dust. You created wait for Christ to come in glory.
It is indeed right and salutary that wholeness. Holy God, holy compas- Holy God, holy Spirit God, shape
we should at all times and in all sionate God, you saw our brokenness us together in this earth of …, in the
places offer thanks and praise to you, and planted once again in the center soil and rivers, in the sunshine and
holy God, source of healing and life. the tree of life, the cross from which wind, in animal and human faces.
You brought wholeness into creation Christ rose to save and heal us. You Send your Spirit that we may share
through the caress of your hands reclaimed wholeness. Holy Christ, your bounty with the whole creation.
and the breath of your mouth. In this holy healing Christ. Help us cry out with one voice for
intimate moment of creation we join re-creation.
the song of fish and birds, trees and [Words of Institution] To you, O God, Father, Son and
flowers, humans and angels: Holy God, holy generous God, we Holy Spirit be all honor and glory,
We sing the “Holy, Holy, Holy” remember Christ’s life and death, his now and forever!
resurrection and ascension which renew Adapted from:
Holy God, holy imaginative God, you the face of the earth. We give back to Koinonia. Services and Prayers
set your tree of life in the center, you what you have given us in creation, (Geneva: LWF, 2004), pp. 158ff
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