by Rev. Mel Caraway, Interfaith Climate Coordinator for Texas Impact/Texas Interfaith Power and Light
Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege to lead the Service of Holy Communion at Grace Avenue United Methodist Church in Frisco, Texas where I worship weekly. We have just begun a sermon series titled “Tell Me a Story” in which our pastors share their personal stories. This week, Rev. Laura Byrd was preaching from the text of Jeremiah 29:5-9, 11-14. As I prepare to leave in a few days for the second week of COP27, the words of the Hebrew scripture spoke loudly to me about the work ahead of us as people of faith, as a part of the human race, and most importantly as observers at COP27.
In the midst of our climate crisis, oftentimes I feel as if I am one of the exiles in Babylon to whom Jeremiah is writing. The prophet writes: “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you … for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name. I did not send them, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:8-9 NRSV)
These words from God to the exiles in Babylon echo the words I hear from God about the climate deniers and those who place profit over the lives of God’s people and the future well-being of all of God’s creation. Jeremiah continues: For thus says the Lord … I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you … plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jer. 29:10-11)
As COP27 begins this week, I know that God has plans for planet Earth and all of God’s creation and creatures. The time has come for all of us to no longer listen to the voices of the false prophets of climate denial and forge a new path based on caring for God’s creation and all that is in it. We must also pledge ourselves to work for a just and equitable solution to the impending climate disaster we are facing if we continue on our current path. God’s promises to the Babylonian exiles are the same promise that God makes to us today. We will not be abandoned by God because God has plans for us and for future generations. It is up to us to listen to the voice of God who gives us hope for our future and the future of generations to come.
So, as I prepare to journey to Egypt later this week, I go with the assurance that I go with God’s blessing and the hope that those who are involved in the negotiations of the Parties will do so with an eye to the future of humankind and the planet, and not with an eye on profit and greed.
Rev. Mel Caraway
Rev. Mel Caraway is a retired United Methodist pastor living in McKinney, Texas. He serves as the Interfaith Climate Coordinator for Texas Impact/Texas Interfaith Power and Light. He also is co-chair of the Faith Working Group of the Southeast Climate and Energy Network, a Steering Committee member of the United Methodist Creation Justice Movement, and a Climate Reality Project Leader.