Lent 2011

It’s Not Too Late to Save Creation

Day 36

It’s Not Too Late to Save Creation
Lent and Easter 2011

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him. Zedekiah had said, "Why do you prophesy and say: Thus says the Lord: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; King Zedekiah of Judah shall not escape out of the hands of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye; and he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I attend to him, says the Lord; though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed?" Jeremiah said, "The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, 'Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.' Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, 'Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.' Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, 'It is being given into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence': See, I am going to gather them from all the lands to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation; I will bring them back to this place, and I will settle them in safety. They shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them, never to draw back from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, so that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul."

Jeremiah 32:1-9; 36-41

April 13, 2011

The Babylonian army has besieged Jerusalem and Jeremiah is in prison. But somehow, irrational as it sounds, Jeremiah gets word from God to buy a piece of property in his hometown of Anathoth. It is the very implausibility of this request that makes it possible for Jeremiah to discern that this is the word of God. Implausibility is a pattern between God and Jeremiah. God has told Jeremiah to buy other things: a loincloth—and hide it (Chapter 13), an earthenware jug—and break it (Chapter 19).

This instruction is just as implausible: buy a piece of land in his hometown while he’s in prison and about to be taken away by the Babylonians. As implausible, as irrational as it seems at this point in Israel’s story, Jeremiah trusts God and buys the land. And then comes God’s promise: though they will be dispersed, God will bring them back and settle them in safety.

People in the United States have been through one of the coldest and wettest winters in history. A February 10 Christian Science Monitor article about massive snowfall cited climatologists who say “an increased propensity for winter storms is exactly what you’d expect in a warming world.” The article quotes Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center: “There’s no inconsistency at all. If anything, this is what the models project: that we see more of these very large snowfalls.”

Author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, who has written about global climate change for more than 20 years, explained the record-snow phenomenon in a February article for CommonDreams.Org: “That carbon we’ve poured into the air traps more of the sun’s heat near the planet. And that extra energy expresses itself in a thousand ways, from melting ice to powering storms. Since warm air can hold more water vapor than cold, it’s not surprising that the atmosphere is four percent moister than it was 40 years ago.”

McKibben quotes Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the government’s National Center for Atmospheric Research: That “four percent extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms.”

The prophets of our times have been telling us for years to cut our use of fossil fuels because Earth cannot sustain human life with more than 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (We’re currently at 388.15 and climbing.) Like the early Israelites, we have not wanted to listen. Now, paralyzed by record snowfall, we are beginning to take note, but it seems too little too late: we are overwhelmed, frightened and paralyzed about what to do.

At Turtle Rock Farm: A Center for Sustainability, Spirituality and Healing HYPERLINK www.turtlerockfarmretreat.com, where I am appointed as a United Methodist deaconess to the ministry of ecospirituality and environmental justice, we offer people the opportunity to reconnect with the wonders of God’s good creation so that we will want to do whatever we can—no matter how implausible it may seem—to make a difference by learning to live more sustainably and helping return the planet to health.

Jeremiah teaches us that if we do what God calls us to do, through our modern-day environmental prophets, that we can trust God to do all that God can. But, it seems, we have to go out and “buy the land”: we have to cut our carbon emissions. Jeremiah teaches us we can trust God to do all that God can, and that God calls us to do all that we can.


Gracious God, when we feel hopeless, remind us that it is not too late to make this world as Good as it can be.

Posted or updated: 4/12/2011 11:00:00 PM
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