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By Rev. Jane Stranz*


A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, Where is your faith?” Luke 8: 23-25

Jesus also said to the crowds, When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, It is going to rain,” and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, There will be scorching heat,” and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” Luke 12: 54-56


In times of bad or stormy weather we have a tendency like the disciples to lose faith, and to ask God to fix the problem—“make the sun shine,” “make it rain,” “stop the wind!” A few chapters later in the same gospel, Jesus speaks both gently and sternly to the crowds, using everyday examples and parables. Finally, rather exasperated it seems, he berates his listeners as hypocrites for being more interested in the weather than in interpreting the signs of the times. Working for climate and water justice calls us not only to ecological conversion, to work for climate resilience locally and globally; it also challenges the language we use for advocacy and how we think about God.

Jesus’ cry of hypocrite” rings in my head as I think about how to advocate for water justice at this paradoxical time, when part of France is flooded and other regions have already declared droughts early in the year. At the same time, the media is criticising Frances powerful bottled mineral water industry for not respecting the rules governing how natural water is treated. Consumers are being sold expensive bottled water packaged with false claims on the labels, which is less pure than our tap water. 

Meanwhile I have to admit that like those folk in Lukes gospel, I too have been contemplating the weather recently. This is frankly a bit sad, as the view from my office window here in the suburbs of Paris is not very inspiring at the best of times. The window looks through some metal railings over the corrugated grey roof of the church hall and on towards the grey concrete walls of a very utilitarian hospital. A view not improved by an awful lot of heavy rain in recent months, nor by the knowledge that yet again the water will be leaking heavily through the church roof. 

Then I think about the pictures my God-son sent me of recent floods in Bangladesh, and a video a friend from Sri Lanka sent me of water knee-high in his church a few weeks ago. Our first world problems are not of the same order. However, I sense this may not be the best time to talk to my congregation about becoming part of the Blue Community. In conversations about climate issues with some parishioners, they firmly confide in me that they have faith that God will not let us perish. I sense they are almost saying to me Where is your faith?” The same rain falls on us. We live through the same bad and good weather. We read the same gospel but we dont interpret it in the same way. We live in the same times but we do not interpret the signs of those times in the same way.

Lent is the time in the church year where we are called on to think more clearly about how our experience of Gods liberating grace in Jesus Christ is lived out in the contradictions of our daily lives. It is not an easy process. A call to conversion from relying on a God with magical powers to having faith in a God who calls us to take an active part in the miracle of overcoming fear. Jesus calls us to share in interpreting the signs of the times and take responsible action together for the kingdom. 

Meteorologists tell us clearly that each of the past six months have been the warmest on record. Our global weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable. Stormy weather, drought, unusually heavy rain, melting snow, sea levels rising, and acute pressure globally on equitable access to drinking water.


In the most difficult of storms and in the worst weather, God calls us away from hypocrisy and towards deeper faith. It is a call to renew our relationship with God, with the planet, with our neighbours. 

In the final chapters of her book Blessed are the consumers, theologian Sallie McFague refers to the continuity between personal behaviour and public stances.” It is a call to develop a more adult faith in God, and model ourselves on Gods self-giving of reciprocity, taking steps each day to ensure our common future. 

McFague encourages us to change our way of thinking and acting, and to neither "rest nostalgically in the warm arms of nature or use nature for our excessive desires but approach it as a valued friend. ... Nature is neither our plaything nor our slave but our other’ who demands we meet her or him with adult appreciation and objectivity.”

Through Gods grace, may we be transformed to truly read the signs of our times, and embody advocacy for water and climate justice in a way that shows we believe in Gods faithful promises for humanity and the whole inhabited world.

For further discussion, reflexion,  and action

—What changes could your church or group make to become a member of the Blue Community?

—How do we overcome fear and anxiety about the climate emergency, in order to share an empowering message about how our action can have a meaningful impact on our common future? 

—How do we develop our relationship with God as we advocate for climate resilience? In his book Life Together,” the German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer encourages the spiritual practice of thanksgiving for small, everyday blessings. Beginning with gratitude rather than with supplication changes how we interact with God and with others.

—Sallie McFague proposes holistic and sustainable change. The big picture can be transformed when lots of people embody small changes in their everyday lives. What can I commit to?

*Rev. Jane Stranz is a minister of the United Reformed Church and of the United Protestant Church of France, serving in a small Lutheran parish on the outskirts of Paris. She is involved in the Eglise verte, Greenfaith and Action-Contemplation networks. A committed ecumenist, communicator, and feminist theologian, she sometimes runs the press room at ecumenical meetings. In 2008, with Maike Gorsboth, former coordinator of WCC-EWN, she was instrumental in launching the Seven Weeks for Water campaign.

1 Blessed are the Consumers, Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint, Sallie McFague, 2013, Fortress Press.