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Rembrandt Storm on Sea of Galilee

A story of Jesus and the disciples tells how the fishermen were in a boat probably looking for supper when a storm comes up. Jesus is asleep (long work day maybe) and the boat is pitching back and forth in a sudden storm. Mark 4:35-41: “Don’t you care if we drown?” (NIV).

In Houston people have drowned. We all are in jeopardy. Of the people who suffer, more will die in the poorer, ‘bad’ sections of this metropolis.Some neighborhoods will be discarded. People near the Houston oil fields have many serious health problems. It’s a tragedy. These life-death moments motivate us to change. It’s easy to send bandages and diapers and supplies to the Red Cross for the Houston families. But the crisis is still rampant. None of us are to blame for the deaths from Hurricane Harvey, and all of us are responsible. The outrageous weather patterns are because of my oil/gas consumption. The roots of climate catastrophe are in my lifestyle. The storm is still raging.

Backhuysen Christ in the Storm

In Galilee, the boat is about to capsize and Jesus’ friends are about to die. Remember these are not some dilettante sea goers. These are experienced sailors who ask, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (NRSV). This translation puts the dilemma out from the urgent and into the immediate crisis. So Jesus wakes up, he calmly calms the engulfing waters, and turns to his friends and asks, “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?”

Since we are now living daily in the time of climate catastrophe, what are we led to do? I can’t just keep burning up the earth with my cars and my plastic packaging from REI. Yes, I can lower my carbon footprint, and I can strengthen my heart-print. How can my handprint in creating a new life needs widen? I want to strengthen my kindness muscle. I want to join in resilient communities. So since Hurricane Harvey and the churning of the flood waves, I have joined 30 days of prayer for love in the face of hate I’ve started a voluntary carbon tax. I’m going to the Statehouse to demand a living wage of $15 for fast-food workers, and to listen to them about their concerns. In talking with Friends, I am turning ideas.

Rescue Boats in Houston

What about a plant library — local greenhouses of free plants and seeds?
What if we took the predicted coastline in 20 years with storm surges on the New England coast. Maybe every church should post a map of the rising tide shorelines, just like we have charts of how financial campaigns are going. This might guide our prayers. What if we planted a line of pine trees along the coastline marking what neighborhoods will be above the flood plain?

What if we joined in with a group that prays with those currently suffering from climate change. I would then know the people struggling today, those who heat their houses in winter with cooking ovens or whose children are sick living near factories with bad emissions?

First of all, I need to ask with my loved ones daily what are my most loving and generous options? How do I steer the boat in the rough water? Maybe Jesus and friends were in a temporary squall in the Sea of Galilee. Humans have created a huge climate upheaval and the storms will affect us for the rest of our lives. Will I act out of faith and hope? Jesus’ question echoes across the centuries to today. “Why are you so afraid??

Alexendre Jorge evacuates Ethan Photo/Charlie Riedel)

With our hearts and handprints, let us calm the storms.