Today is January 6, 2017, Epiphany on the Christian calendar. I hope you’re having one. In the ancient tale, Epiphany marks the arrival of three Wise Ones who follow the starlight, seeking a birthplace of hope in a really dark time. While the crazed King is out murdering all the neighborhood boy-children, the Magi dream a dream. It tells them they’ll find their way home only by an alternative route to the dangerous one they’d planned.
On this Epiphany 2017 I hope and pray the wise men, women and children among us, help us find alternatives to the dangerous pathways we seem bent to follow in the next 100 days and beyond. Having just taken my 67th journey through Advent, I’m more captivated than ever with that prophetic dream so many have dreamed: of a world of shalom, an economy of equity and healed earth imagined as wolves dwelling with lambs and the young of the bear and cow lying down together.
North of Yellowstone Park, in October, we watched orphaned twin grizzly cubs for several hours one day, rooting around in a pasture while Angus mothers kept nervous vigil across a fence the cubs could easily slip under in a flash. As impossible a possibility as it seems and dangerous as it truly is, bears feeding on domestic steak is exceedingly rare. They’d much rather feast on lily roots, pine nuts and moths. That’s who they are.
As White House Cabinet nominations include an Exxon Mobil CEO who will get a $900,000 severance package in order to serve as Secretary of State and an Attorney General nominee who has fought against environmental protection for a living, this is perhaps a darker Epiphany than most. But let’s keep our attention on the images of our prophetic dream. Today I think of the mother grizzly we watched, foraging with her cub in Glacier National Park. I imagine her now, sleeping in her den, wrapped around that furry 2-year-old beneath 7 feet of snow.
But in September they were on the mountainside together. She constantly raised her nostrils to sniff the wind coming down from soon-to-be-extinct glaciers, searching for the scent of human presence and our infatuation with fossil-fueled madness. He never wandered far. For our protection, the Ranger was close-by reminding us we were not at the zoo, but in a wild place. There is no more ferocious a love than that of a sow grizzly for her cub and God help those who come between Mother and child.
This is our hope, maybe our only hope. We must quickly find our wild place and harness that maternal/paternal instinct. If we have our nostrils to the wind, we know the dangerous forces that have strayed between us and our children’s well-being and future and we have no choice but to act decisively.
Because of this, I want to offer you one decisive avenue of action for the New Year in the movement known Our Children’s Trust. As you know, against the odds we now face, the role of the judicial system is more important than ever. And if we are to protect and defend our children, it will be by defending their moral and legal rights under the Constitution of the United States.
In 2015, Our Children’s Trust brought a lawsuit against the Federal Government on behalf of 20 U.S. children and youth and climate scientist James Hansen. Legal scholars from across the country call this the BIGGEST TRIAL OF THE CENTURY!!! To date, several circuit court rulings have upheld OCT’s contention that:
Our children have a fundamental and constitutional right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life. This contention and now this ruling is based on the truth that all of Earth and her living systems, including the climate are held in sacred and moral trust by current generations for future generations. The latest hearing was held in Eugene, Oregon in September and the affirmative ruling couldn’t have been announced at a more critical time, two days after Donald Trump was elected. The suit isn’t for money. OCT and lead attorney Julia Olsen alledge that 1) the government has known for decades of the cataclysmic consequences of its ongoing fossil fuel policies, 2) that the government recklessly, knowingly and with disregard for the sustainability of human life, subsidized and advanced the fossil fuel industry, while poisoning our atmosphere and destabilizing our climate system and, therefore 3) our federal government has constitutional responsibility to implement a plan, verifiable by science, that will ensure a climate system capable of sustaining human life from this point forward.
The ancient text reads, as it describes the new regime of justice and sustainability that “a little child shall lead them.” The picture below shows the proud, strong, irrepressible spirit in the faces of the children and youth from all over our country as they stood on the steps of the federal courthouse after the hearing last September.
They are leading us. I encourage you, whether or not my particular faith story is the one that compels you, to join them. Go to the website, ourchildrenstrust.org see the video stories of these kids, share them with your congregations and other organizations and help raise the funding that will sustain this fight on behalf of the bear cubs of all Creation. The poem of theologian Howard Thurman will always be my favorite on Epiphany:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
Let’s do the work of Christmas together. There has never been more to lose and maybe humanity’s best chance to get it right. Blessings and good work in the New Year!!!