As more and more people are experiencing eco-anxiety and grief, I am suggesting that Christians practice an Ecological Stations of the Cross to mourn the eco-crucifixion of our planet. Here is the reflection for the first station. We contemplate Jesus being condemned to death by those in power, just as those in power in the fossil fuel industry today make decisions that lead to widespread suffering and death.
This resource is part of the EcoPreacher 1-2-3 series that helps preachers and congregations address environmental issues in their sermons and ministry. The Ecological Stations of the Cross is made possible through support from the Interfaith Center of Sustainable Development with editing assistance from Rabbi Yonatan Neril.
This resource can be used for a single worship experience during Holy Week such as Good Friday or Saturday Vigil. Or you can use these reflections for personal devotions during each day of Holy Week. There are seven in all which I’ll be publishing each day of this week. You can access all of the Ecological Stations of the Cross as a full booklet here.
Scripture: Matthew 27:1-2
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
The Gospels tell the story of powerful men in religion and politics condemning Jesus to death by crucifixion. Driven by the lust for domination, wealth, and control, these leaders decided to end Jesus’s life in order to silence his message of justice, non-violent civil disobedience, and non-compliance with oppression. The trial by the religious leaders followed by the trial in the imperial Roman court set off the series of events that would culminate in Jesus’s suffering and death.
In our time, the fossil fuel industry is also driven by the lust for domination, wealth, and control. They have decided that their profits are worth more than the pain and suffering from environmental collapse. In 2023, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 418 ppm (parts per million) as global temperatures rose 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels. These levels are setting off climate tipping points that are rapidly becoming unstoppable. From wildfires consuming vast swaths of land, to super-charged weather events devastating communities, to coral reef die-offs and loss of natural lands, suffering and death is widespread.
Prayer for mercy
God of Creation, have mercy on those who are suffering from climate devastation, especially those who have contributed the least but bear the heaviest burdens. We pray for impoverished communities, Indigenous peoples, threatened animals and birds, and ecosystems struggling to survive. Change the hearts and minds of the fossil-fuel imperial forces. Compel people of faith to call for justice through non-violent civil disobedience and non-compliance with oppression.
God in your mercy, hear our prayer.
The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade is the Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky and ordained in the ELCA. Dr. Schade does not speak for LTS or the ELCA; her opinions are her own. She is the author of Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015). She is the co-editor of Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). Her newest book is Introduction to Preaching: Scripture, Theology, and Sermon Preparation, co-authored with Jerry L. Sumney and Emily Askew (Rowman & Littlefield, 2023).