I was recently asked to speak at the dedication of Solar Panels that had been installed on the roof of the Trost Center, which houses the offices of the Wisconsin Conference, United Church of Christ. The request warmed my heart to remember the time when I first saw a picture of our church building with our own solar panels. I thought, “this is a congregation that takes creation care seriously.” It made me want to come here. What follows are a transcript of my remarks from the Trost Center dedication. Their sentiment and prayer are for our congregation as well.
“When John Helt asked me to speak today, he asked, in part, for me to give some answer to why the Board chose to have the solar panels installed. In full disclosure: When I arrived on the Board about a year ago, the Board was already at the due diligence stage of considering offers to have the work done. Most of the “why” conversation had already happened. So, I can’t answer for the Board, but I can say something about why I supported this effort.
For me, it starts in the beginning,
when God created the heavens and the earth,
when God called forth light into the formless void,
the waters, and the dry ground,
the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the animals of the land,
when God created humanity in the image of our Creator,
created to be part of God’s creating, renewing force in the world.
That was God’s plan, but we decided to go our own way. When we did, God declared us to be dust, and God made us clothing, that we might not be blown to the far winds; that we might be renewed. God remained faithful even in our unfaithfulness.
When we discovered fire, the gift of energy there, we focused on finite sources which developed into a dependence on wood, coal, then oil. Oil gave us that wonderful by product – plastic!
Plastic now fills our landfills, has formed floating islands in the oceans, and can be found in the bellies of beached whales that died of starvation because they plastic they had consumed.
Now we’re pumping poison into the ground to extract natural gas.
It seems we’re blowing it again, but God remains faithful.
How do I know it? Because Jesus of Nazareth is, in part, an example of renewable energy. The Divine energy that we recognize as born in a borrowed stable, grew to live, teach, heal, and call people into community; to call people into relationship with one another and all creation. We, in our misguided, self-serving ways, tried to pull the plug, to end that flow of energy.
But God remained faithful.
The Divine energy in Jesus remained present in the resurrected Christ. It renewed the strength of the Apostles and in each generation of believers, even to us today. Jesus and the resurrected Christ are examples of renewable energy, a path to follow, to help renew creation, our home, and our relationship with God and one another.
It is my hope that through these panels, and the ministry that will happen in, and from, this place, we might continually be reminded of God’s faithfulness. Renewed morning by morning, new mercies we might see. Great is God’s faithfulness. Amen.”