Week 3

Who is my neighbor?


Opening Prayer: (from National Council of Churches Earth Day 2001 Resource Packet)

Creator God, you make all things and weave them together in an intricate tapestry of life,
which becomes the ground on which all humans make their lives.
Teach us to remember the vulnerability of created order and to care for our sisters and brothers and for all the gifts of your creation.
Guide by your wisdom those leading ordinary lives and who have power and authority, that,
by the decisions they make, life may be cherished and a good and fruitful Earth may continue to show your glory and sing your praises.

Overview:  We reviewed and discussed our carbon footprints, noting how more driving and air travel increased our carbon footprints.  We compared the per capita U.S. carbon footprint of 27 tons of carbon dioxide to the world average of 5.5 tons of carbon dioxide.  We also noted that, although China has surpassed the United States in total annual carbon dioxide emissions, the per capita emissions in China is still one-third of the per capita emissions in the U.S.  While U.S. emissions have leveled, those in the developing world increase at a dramatic pace.  Finally, we look at historical data that shows that, from 1850 to 2004, the United States has emitted three and a half times more carbon dioxide than any other country.

Noting the disproportionate impact the US has had on climate change, we turned to environmental justice and watched a short video about how the drilling practices of Chevron devastated the rainforest of Ecuador and its inhabitants.  We then discussed the question: Who is our neighbor? Does the answer to that question extend beyond humanity to animals, plants and the rest of creation?  Albert Schweitzer tells us that “It doesn’t matter if an animal can reason.  It only matters that it is capable of suffering, and that is why I consider it my neighbor.”

Scriptural sources to help answer “Who is our neighbor?”:

  • Luke 6:31 — “Do to others as  you would have them do to you.”
  • John 15:12 —  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
  • 1 John 4:20 — “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”
  • Matthew 22: 34-40 — The parable of the Good Samaritan
  • 1 John 3: 17-18 — How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need yet refuses to help?  Little children, let us love, not in word and speech, but in truth or action.

Closing Prayer: (Collect for Stewardship of creation on Rogation Days, BCP at 259)

O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature:Make us always thankful for your loving providence;
and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.