Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

September 8, 2019: Fauna and Flora Sunday

From Paul Turley


Like every country, Iceland is used to funerals. But not one like this.


On Sunday August 18 this year, Iceland held a funeral of a glacier. The Okjökull Glacier was once a large swathe of ice spanning 38 square kilometres. By 1945 it had shrunk to just 5 square kilometres. Not long after 2005, it was all but gone. In 2014, Okjökull lost its glacier status; now, it’s just a shield volcano with no glacial cover at all. And this year comes the funeral.


The “funeral” was attended by the researchers who initiated the project, along with Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.


A plaque was installed as part of the ceremony with text that spoke to the future: “Okjökull is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”


Along with this passage, the memorial also includes the number 415ppm CO2: the record level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reached in May this year, the first time this has happened in human history.


While Icelanders are holding funerals in the north, in the south the Amazon forest, often called “the lungs on the world” because it produces 20% of the world’s oxygen, is on fire.


According to reports, there has been an 84% increase in fires currently burning in the forest as there were over the same period in 2018.


The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, said he was“deeply concerned” about their effect on the global climate crisis: “In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity.”


Environmental organizations and researchers say the wildfires blazing in the Brazilian rainforest were set by cattle ranchers and loggers who want to clear and utilize the land, emboldened by the country’s pro-business president.


The theologian Karl Bart, in an interview with Time Magazine in 1963 said, “take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” When we read Psalm 104 and the reports from the Amazon and Iceland, it seems clear that we are a long way from being present to creation the way the Psalmist calls us to be.


Explore…Psalm 104:14–23

  • In what sense do you understand the statement, “You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use”?
  • The psalmist presents us with an integrated understanding of creation, a single entity. What are some of the ways your faith community lives out these truths?



Creator of all, sustainer of all, God of all. Forgive us for the ways we have not lived in harmony within your creation. Forgive us for living the lie that we are above or outside of the created order. Teach us to be humble, grateful, and gentle with this planet, our home. Amen.



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