~ Though the Earth Should Change ~
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea…
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.”
Dear Members and Friends,
Don’t you love the late spring and early summer? It’s a busy time for me at home. The vegetable garden needs to be put in. The lawns needs mowing constantly. The creatures of the world renew their annual assault on our drafty old farmhouse: bees, spiders, ants marching in their obedient rows, foraging through the cupboards. Everything seems to want a place inside the house—including a band of gray squirrels I had to banish from the attic last fall. The cat recently went outside for a walk and returned with a live mouse to deposit in our guest bathroom: catch and release.
As the broad, lazy days of this season open out before us, the cycle of church life gives me a little time to pause and catch my breath. It’s the growth and life of this season that we love, I think. Anthropologists say that we human beings are essentially tropical creatures—though our ability to harness fire and weave cloth means that we’ve colonized much of the planet. If it’s true that the tropics are our natural place, then summer must remind us somehow of Home, with a capital H, a place that some of us have never even seen, but that we recognize deep in our mysterious bodies.
And yet, even in the nearly eight years since our return to Pittsburgh, I’ve noticed a change in the seasons. Rains are more erratic. They’re short and torrential. Winters tend to be one long gray November, punctuated by brief bursts of outlandish cold. Spring is often so…what’s the word? Diffident? Unsure of itself? Last fall, there was almost no glorious foliage because of the hot nights. Anyone who says, “I don’t believe in climate change” ought to just be truthful and say instead, “I don’t want to change the way I’m living.” And who does want to change? With our cars, and air conditioners, and gadgetry, we’ve got the most luxurious lives known to history. But even just a glance at the anecdotal evidence shows us that the earth is changing rapidly.
I wonder what the psalmist had in mind when he or she penned the words, “We will not fear though the earth should change.” Was there some great troubling change afoot in ancient times that caused people to worry about the future of the natural order? I don’t know. But I’m drawn (as always) to the part about not fearing. It almost doesn’t matter what the day appointed to us brings; what matters is whether we were faithful in it. We do our part. In this day of real regress, we must contend for ecological justice. We must live responsibly in our own lives and encourage others to do the same. We must support responsible policies toward the environment. In fact, my wife Michelle has sworn off plastics, which is VERY hard to do. And as you may know, Pittsburgh Presbytery voted to ask the General Assembly of our denomination to divest from fossil fuels, which some churches have already done. I’m hoping to start an eco-justice group in our congregation to consider our carbon footprint as a church and ways to be better stewards. Let me know if you’d be interested in taking part.
These lovely summer days won’t last forever. And yet, we can hold them in the peace of this moment and sense the divine life pulsing through them. Happy summer to you. And remember, the church is open every Sunday of the year!
In Christ’s Peace,