In this fourth installment of the Ecological Stations of the Cross, Jesus meets the weeping women of Jerusalem on the way to his crucifixion. Today, parents weep for their children and Creation in the age of eco-crucifixion.
[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. You can access all the reflections as a full booklet here.]
Scripture: Luke 23:27-28
27A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
Reflection on children and Creation
Seeing their beloved rabbi walking the procession to his death, the women cry for the pain they know he will suffer. They mourn for the death they know is coming. Yet Jesus points out that the women and the children are the ones who will truly suffer. He knows that when imperial forces target vulnerable communities with military violence, women and children are subjected to violence, starvation, rape, and murder.
Children, teens, and young adults acutely feel the pain of eco-anxiety and eco-grief. They learn about the effects of climate change in school, from articles on the Internet, and from the discussions they hear among adults. And some of them experience the effects of the climate crisis directly. Consider the children in eastern Kentucky who lost homes, schools, and family members to flooding. Think of the children of drought-ravaged countries around the world who leave their homes in search of survival and often suffer violence along the way. Mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, teachers, ministers, and many other adults suffer grief and guilt for the damaged and diminished world they are leaving for their children.
Prayer for vision
God of renewed vision, comfort the young ones who feel the stress and fear of climate change unfolding around them. Surround them with adults who will help them process these feelings and to organize into movements for positive change. Inspire both youth and adults to work together to advocate for fossil fuel divestment, localized energy systems, and protecting children who suffer from climate devastation and migration.
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).