Randall gave this glorious intro to Sky Sunday, part of our three-week Creation Justice Season at the DUCC. Enjoy:
Good morning. I’m Randall Braaksma, and I’m part of the Creation Justice group at Douglas UCC, and I’m here to talk to you about the sky. Perhaps you’ve worn one of these [face mask respirator] when you were doing some dirty, dusty work around the house or on job site. But many people wear these every day just to breathe a little easier.
I lived for several years in Beijing, China, and this was not a fashion accessory, it was often a necessity. I remember the day Beijing’s normally smoggy skies went clear blue on a crisp December day. We were all amazed until we remembered that the Olympic Committee was visiting to review Beijing’s bid to host the Games.
The city government of Beijing had the power and control to make its citizens stop polluting in order to make a good impression. But just for a while. The smog began descending almost as soon as the Olympic Committee’s plane took off.
Air pollution continues to be a big problem in places like Beijing, Dehli, and Manilla. And it’s causing damaging health effects for millions around the world. Today, about 235 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. And more than 80 percent of asthma deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries. Overall, the World Health Organization estimates that 3.7 million people die each year due to air pollution.
Statistics like that certainly make this a justice issue. So, what can we do about it?
Pastor Sal has often exhorted us to speak truth to power. And Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us to do that. Just a few weeks ago, the E.P.A. announced it’s looking at letting coal plants that are nearing retirement keep on working, or should I say polluting, with a refurbishment that DOES NOT include adding pollution controls. And just this week, the administration said it plans to roll back rules covering methane leaks and the “flaring,” or burning, of potent greenhouse gas by energy companies. This while U.N. General Secretary António Guterres called climate change the defining issue of our time and said, (quote) “the time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.”
Clean air is a basic human right. When it’s in danger, we must fight this injustice. We can take that fight to the national and international levels. We can take it to our individual lives, too. Last week, Pastor Sal talked about the need to become aware that Christ is in us and in everything, including, or should I say especially, the air we breathe. The challenge is to ask ourselves is, How can I be more aware so that the decisions I make every day do the sky good and not harm?