Lorenz a climate scientist was working on his computer in the 1960’s. He wasworking on a weather simulation. He changed one variable by .000127 and went to make a cup of coffee. When he came back he discovered this miniscule change had created a weather storm. A very small change like a butterfly flapping its wings could completely transform the weather and create a tornado. Small events have long term consequences.
“It used to be thought that the events that changed the world, were things like big bombs, maniac politicians, huge earthquakes, or vast population movements, but it has now been realized that this is very old fashioned view, held by people who are out of touch with modern thought. The things that change the world according to chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle and subsequently a storm rages half of Europe.” Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman in Good Omens
Today in this church I’m proposing that we during Lent introduce a small event,as those under God and commit to changing ourselves our families and the world. We know that if we change our direction by just one degree we will end up in a different place. This is what repentance means. Changing direction. One little step at a time. One degree at a time.
Living lent is about recognising that changing our climate is not just an activity, but a lifestyle. We can buy a reusable coffee cup, but not ask who grew our coffee and how much they were paid, or we can refuse a plastic bag whilst buying fast fashion from a child sweatshop. This Lent, we want to explore as a community, what it means to open ourselves up to whole-life change for the climate.
Living Lent is about hungering and thirsting for righteousness, in our relationship with God and with the world.
Lent is a time of self-discipline in order to grow in our discipleship. Our environmental damage is making more of our earth barren wilderness and creating climate chaos.
But the call on us as Christians is to love the God who created our incredible world and to be custodians of the earth. Climate change impacts the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world- already and its beginning to impact us. Our Christian call to bear the burdens of our weakest members means that those of us in the affluent west need to recognise our own abuse of the earth’s resources.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. Ps 24v1. God created this planet and declared it very good.
Lent is only 40 days, but we can have an impact-forever. We are invited to make a commitment to changing our lifestyle for the world during Lent. To choose something that will stretch us. What would be something that would change our daily habits? We will journey through Lent by making these commitments together. It is a call to repent, and to seek contentment, justice and a life in balance with the natural world. It is a call to freedom from the endless want-creation of consumerism. We will make tiny changes that will have a big impact together.
1.Could you give up single use plastics for Lent?
Plastic packaging is the biggest producer of plastic waste globally. Incinerating plastic releases CO2, and other toxic chemicals, into the environment, so is not a suitable alternative to get rid of our mass plastic waste. Instead, our plastic ends up in landfills, where on average a plastic bottle takes 450 years to biodegrade.
2. Could you go meat-free for Lent?
Beef, dairy and sheep in particular – have a significantly larger environmental impact than those of plant based substitutes. Both UK and UN planners indicate that to achieve our greenhouse gas commitments we must reduce the amount of meat in our diets.
3. Could you commit to finding alternative modes of transport this Lent?
Road transport today accounts for 26% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the biggest pollutants in the UK
4. Could you reduce your electricity use by 10% during Lent?
Electricity use in the UK is around 20% higher than the global average. UK Home energy use makes up approximately a quarter of the country’s total CO2 emissions.
5. Could you commit to local living? This involves buying food produced as locally as possible. The Campaign to Protect Rural England defines ‘local’ as within 30 miles of where you live. This may mean cutting some of your usual favourite foods out of your diet, and focusing on fresh local produce.
6. Could you buy nothing new for the whole of Lent?
Imagine buying nothing new. Excluding food, medicines and basic toiletries, could you spend Lent mending, borrowing, buying second-hand, or going without? A new T shirt is the equivalent to 2-3 days of home energy use.
The situation is so urgent that we need to raise the alarm. We are destroying Gods world. We have forgotten who we are and who we are answerable to. We need to humble ourselves before God and begin to change. We are the repairers of the breach.
We are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. With Gods help we can be a catalyst of change. We are the butterfly wings, the one degree shift. Amen