Saturday, July 17, 2021

Wildfires and climate change

Wildfires and bushfires are becoming more regular, and earlier in the summer season, amplified by high temperatures, drought, lightning strikes and climate change. Climate and fire scientists have long anticipated that fires on the west coast of the U.S. (and other places) would grow larger, more intense, and more dangerous. 

A wildfire in southern Oregon is currently threatening transmission lines that carry imported power to California.

Temperatures have soared in the inland and desert areas of California as fires burned in the north. In California’s agricultural Central Valley, Fresno reached 111F (43.9C), one degree short of the all-time high for the date. Temperatures in Death Valley reached 130F, the highest high recorded since July 1913, when Furnace Creek desert hit 134F – largely considered the highest measured temperature on Earth.

The newly formed Justice Committee of DIAKONIA World Federation changed the title of the Committee from Social Justice, to Justice, to accommodate the pressing challenges in our world brought about by climate change, environmental matters and eco-justice. It would be great to know in what ways those in diaconal ministry are engaged in environmental matters - education, advocacy, recovery ministries etc. 

Remembering catastrophic bushfires
We remember…cinders and sadness. 
In agony, creation fought to survive, and communities were decimated.
We remember the loss of fauna, flora, farms and families.
O God, we heard the cries. We felt the heartache. We saw the tears.

We saw the courage, response and resourcefulness of communities.
We who have so much offered and assisted, but we could not prevent or postpone
the living pain, the terror and dying from the destructive roar.
We have lived with the ongoing loss and groaning
of all what was, and is, and will continue to be, grieving with this reality.
We remember….
A silence is kept

Creator God,
Today we call to you in one voice.
Together, we celebrate our Earth.
We delight in all its diverse ecosystems.
We are awed by the variety of fauna and flora.
We are inspired by its wisdom and capacity to regenerate.

Generous One,
We are sorry that as your people, part of this great creation,
that our greed and sense of power has wreaked havoc on this splendour.
Our shame is too often set aside in bluster or denial.
Our anger is too often expressed in blame.
We too often do not take responsibility,
not wishing to put effort into relationship with the earth and consideration of the ‘other’.
We are sorrier than we can say. Forgive us.

In trust, with love, you call us to you,
And encourage us to act and see in a new way.
For you forgive us, and re-direct us to take our place in the midst of this wondrous creation.
Restoration and renewal draw us forward
to seek the right way of living, being just and acting with humility.
We listen and learn together, calling on our strength as God’s people to collaborate,
with consideration of all of creation and our small part with in it.
May our footprint be the size that fits in this wondrous earth,
sustaining, supporting and sensitively responding,
together with the Earth. Amen

A prayer by Disaster and Recovery Ministries, an Ecumenical Ministry in South Australia, providing pastoral care for communities who are recovering from disaster, whether natural or those of human origin.

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