Author Robert Fulghum tells the story about firefighters who rescued a man from a bed that was engulfed in flames. Later one of them asked the man how the bed had caught on fire. The man responded: “I don’t know. It was on fire when I lay down on it.”
This story leaves one scratching the head, but there are probably countless ways that all of us do things that really just are not that smart. Sometimes we just miss or ignore the warning signs. We become desensitized. The car alarm goes off but no one goes to their window to see if a car is being stolen. We get used to hearing and ignoring the alarms. The fire alarm goes off in the hotel but some of the occupants are tired and decide it isn’t worth evacuating. Things will probably turn out okay. The sign says do not drive into the flooded street but sure enough, someone does and then makes a frantic call for help as their car washes downstream.
The Bible suggests that we should pay attention to God’s warning signs. Our Scripture reading from Joel 1 urgently cries out for us to pay attention to the warning signs that God has put in place. These warning signs are there to keep us from destruction. They instruct us to take action so that we can sustain lives that are healthy and in God’s grace.
I believe that God’s warning signs are blinking and blaring all around our globe right now. From the melting glaciers to the dying coral reefs to the increasingly powerful storms and fires, nature is trying to get our attention. I think the earth is crying out and telling us that we cannot keep going on as we are now. The earth cannot sustain life and health the ways that we are using it. We must read the signs. If we do not pay attention to these God created warning signs, really bad consequences lie ahead. Many are saying that we are leaving behind a world for our children and grandchildren that will be much worse than the environment we have enjoyed. Some even wonder if our species (and many others we impact) can survive.
And yet we are not responding with a sense of urgency.
For those who have a magical belief that God will swoop in and save us from the consequences of our actions, I would encourage a closer reading of both the Bible and human history.
This week we will talk about what it means to be God’s stewards of planet earth and the life that inhabits it.
We will have a special guest. Dr. Catherine O’Reilly is a professor at ISU in the Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment. With tons of experience in studying the environment (not to mention recognition and awards for her work) Dr. O’Reilly can help us better understand the situation with our environment. It does get confusing, doesn’t it?
We will think about how we can be faithful to God, as we are part of the solution.
I look forward to discussing this important topic with you this weekend.
We are very grateful to welcome to our worship this weekend Dr. Catherine M. O’Reilly. Dr. O’Reilly is Associate Professor of Geology at Illinois State University and a specialist on the impacts of climate change, especially dealing with lake environments and water issues in general. Trained at the University of Arizona, Dr. O’Reilly has published over 40 scientific articles in leading scientific journals and edited volumes. Most recently, she serves as part of an interdisciplinary team investigating the impacts of climate change on both the ecology and human utilization of Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. Since coming to ISU in 2011, Dr. O’Reilly has received almost $7 million in external grants from such agencies as the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Environmental Protection Agency. She is a nationally and internationally known leader in the quest to understand and predict the impact of local and global climate change.
Hurricane Relief – UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is on the ground in the Carolina’s providing support and supplies. If you’d like to donate, please mark “hurricane” on your gift.