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BY REV. JESSICA ABELL

July 28, 2021
Republicans know human activity drives climate change even if they don't agree on solutions.
Photo credit: Chinatopix via AP
On climate change, Republicans are open to some policy approaches, even as they assign the issue low priority - via Pew Research
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. –Luke 23:50–53
Many years ago, I did a fair amount of lobbying for the environment. As a clergy person, the witness to and testimony of a faith-based argument for the preservation and renewal of Creation is always appropriate. Another aspect of clergy life is that virtually all political offices will agree to some level of meeting, regardless of party or affiliation. Over several years of this kind of meeting I learned that the staffs of every elected official I’ve ever met do know climate change is real and at least somewhat affected by human behavior. 
 
There is some variation about how much the human element plays a part and, of course, in policy solutions. However, it is only political posturing and gamesmanship that has fed the partisan divide around whether or not we are facing a climate crisis. Everyone knows it is real.
 
I chose this scripture because Joseph of Arimathea is the only character present in all four Gospels who is NOT either a known disciple of Jesus or related to him. And yet all four Gospels also agree that this man, a member of the Jewish governing council that eventually condemns Jesus, facilitated the honorable and respectful burial of Jesus as an observant Jew. This was not an insignificant act, and trust within Jesus’ own community would have had to exist for this action to be possible.
 
My takeaway from this is simple: Even Jesus and Jesus’ own community had relationships and connections with those who could and would be seen as the enemy from the outside. Yet no one then nor no one now can tell what those relationships can yield.
 
In order for us to work toward solutions for our future survival and to forge new systems and communities, we will all have to work together. We must all avoid the extreme partisanship of the current political atmosphere around many things, but most importantly regarding climate and the care of Creation.
Learn
The film “The Human Element” is a gorgeous documentary film that delineates the human impact on the natural world by examining each four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water. There are readily available resources to explore the film more deeply and it has been my experience that hosting a screening is easy to arrange.

Speak Out
It can no longer be acceptable that any elected official’s public face regarding climate change be one of denial. Period. They can each come up with different solutions, and can form coalitions, and can at the very least greenwash their statements to acknowledge that climate change is happening. We, their constituents, have an obligation to require these positions and declarations and to inform them of what we expect.        

Listen
One reason we end up in political silos and echo chambers is that we do not meet with, educate, or lobby those we assume will not listen. Start with your own most local elected official. Ask for a meeting with the staff of your a city councilperson, statehouse Representative or Senator, regional Board of Education Director – anyone for whom you can directly vote. Ask them what their climate change stances and policies are.
Gracious Spirit,
You move and breathe across Creation, binding us all as beloved of God. 
We are one, bound together in common cause and shared lives.
Guide us to the ways and means we need to empower and build a new world, a mosaic of pieces and parts in patterns that heal.
This we ask in all the names we call Holy. Amen.
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