At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of
interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being.
Book of Common Prayer, Eucharistic Prayer C
Each spring, Washingtonians and people from around the world alike pay close attention to the timing of the peak bloom of the Japanese flowering cherry trees by the Tidal Basin. The many unseasonably warm days this winter accelerated the biological process that the trees go through each year. Now a cold snap threatens the blossoms, which, having advanced in the biological process, are no longer protected by the buds. We hope for the best that we will have another beautiful peak bloom, but many people are unsure whether colder temperatures will harm the blooms of certain trees. My favorite term for the recent weather events of an unusual winter in D.C. is “global weirding”, which is another way to think about the impact of climate change.
Remember Eucharistic Prayer C, “At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.” Humans are living at a time where we are conducting a science experiment with our own atmosphere. The results of greenhouse gas emissions being added to the atmosphere are causing alarming consequences that will affect our brothers and sisters around the world.
What does climate change mean for our city? Washingtonians are at greater risk for flooding and heat. According to a November 2016 report by the D.C. government, Climate Ready DC, “[b]y 2080, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts up to 3.4 feet of additional sea level rise in DC.” The same report also says that the average summer high temperature is expected to go from 87°F “to between 93°F and 97°F by the 2080.”
I have found that taking environmentally sustainable actions can take on a spiritual component. Actions such as eating vegetarian for a night, telecommuting, or shopping locally are a way to share Christian love. Our neighbors in areas that are vulnerable to flooding or that lack air conditioning to alleviate the sweltering summer heat benefit in incremental ways from our collective actions to help prevent the worst of climate change from occurring. Future generations that get to enjoy a white Christmas, build a snowman or create snow angels will benefit too.
We are, in fact, living on an “island home,” but fortunately God has provided everything we’ll ever need on this island. Sustainable technology is available for our use and making smart choices is a way to show our devotion and love of our neighbor, near and far, now and in the future.
Appointed readings for today: Exodus 3:1-15, Psalm 63:1-8, Luke 13:1-9