Who is listening today?
by Rev Jacky Quarmby 19 November 2021
Reading: Genesis 6: 1 – 22
What a sad passage this is. As generation succeeded generation, we are told that humanity became steadily more corrupt and wicked, so that every inclination and every thought in their hearts was evil. And God looked upon the earth and the human beings he had created and he grieved and his heart was filled with pain. And God thought, “It’s no good. I must wipe out every member of the human race that I have created, for there is no hope for them.”
But God saw that there was one man who was blameless, one man who prayed to God, was faithful to his wife and loved his children - and that man was Noah. And so God decided that Noah and his family should be saved, together with two of every living creature, whose lives had been put in jeopardy by the actions of the human race. And God told Noah to build an ark, a huge great ship with room for his whole family and a male and a female of every living creature. And Noah, who was a good man, did as he was told.
I wonder what Noah’s neighbours must have thought, as they watched him hammering and sawing day after day after day. Did they ever stop to question the wickedness of their lives and to heed Noah’s warnings about the flood that was on its way? Did they ever think about turning back to God and building a boat of their own? It seems not.
Noah was just a figure of fun. One day, Jesus would look back on this story and remark, “It is as in the days of Noah: before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and they noticed nothing. Until the flood came.”
As I read these words of Jesus, I can’t help thinking about Climate Change. It was as far back as 1989 that then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said in a speech to the UN "We are seeing a vast increase in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere. The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto."
At that time, more than thirty years ago, Margaret Thatcher called for a global treaty on climate change. And yet here we are, still carrying on as we have always done, “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and choosing to notice nothing.” Until the floods come.
I wonder who the “Noahs” are today, whose warnings we need to heed and whose example we need to follow? Perhaps the remarkable Greta Thunberg, who at the UN climate event in 2019 in New York, at the age of 16, made these impassioned comments: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
As another climate change conference ends and leaders return home, let us pray that the promises they have made may not be empty ones. Let us pray too that where government commitments fall short, we as individuals may all be willing to make the changes to our lifestyles that reduce carbon emissions and make a real difference.
And then maybe, just maybe, the floods will not come.
Song: Dear Lord and Father of mankind
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Loving God, we thank you for the beautiful creation that you have entrusted us with. We’re sorry we have not cared for your world in the way you intended us to. We pray that as we learn more about the climate crisis, we will not be overwhelmed, but commit to play our part in caring for your planet and the creatures that share it with us.
Loving God, we pray that the decisions made during COP26 won’t be empty words. We ask that those in positions of power will be held accountable to the targets that have been set and that they will work with conviction to not only achieve these but go beyond them. We ask that the momentum is not lost after the talks have finished.
Finally, loving God, we ask you to stir our hearts into action. Inspire us with ways we can make a difference in our homes, communities and the world around us. We pray for your prompting where we can do more to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Amen.