"But if any of you lack wisdom..."
"But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all." (James 1:5)
The thermometer read 100 degrees as I stood in the parking lot of the shopping outlet center in Pennsylvania yesterday (Wednesday) and took this picture of the power plant's cooling towers busily working to provide the energy for my refreshment. How grateful Patti and I had been that the outlet store that sells the Crocs we like to wear had been air-conditioned. (Many of you know we love to wear our Crocs lots of places, like in the water along the Maine shoreline while we visited our daughter the day before.)
Yesterday, as we walked from one air-conditioned outlet store after another and braved the sweltering heat in between, we were grateful for air conditioning. Yet, as I looked at the towers in the photo I realized (coming from a coal producing and burning state) that something was missing -- smokestacks. Then it hit me - I was standing next to a nuclear power plant. Suddenly I was transported back to 1979, when I was still in seminary, making the trip from New Jersey to West Virginia to visit family. My travels would take me through Pennsylvania, close to the site of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant. I remembered the fear and confusion when the nuclear accident at the plant was revealed to the public.
Life is complicated. We are stewards of God's creation. As such we are called to wisely manage the resources of our God's earth. I love my comfort, but at what price? I'm keenly aware of the risks of nuclear power. Coming from the coalfields of West Virginia I'm also keenly aware of the risks of coal-produced power. The recent mining disasters magnify that point. The oil spill in the Gulf echoes the dangers and risks of oil-produced energy.
It's complicated. When I lived in New England I remember having a person come to my door asking me to sign a petition to support the reduction of coal-produced energy because of the acid rain problems it was causing in New England. I explained to the person that I could not sign the petition because it did not also consider the needs of the many families depending on coal-related jobs that I had left behind in West Virginia.
Life is complicated. The energy situation is complicated, and will require the wisdom of many to chart a course into the future. We don't need parties and groups "for" and "against." We don't need leaders influenced by greed and power. We need wisdom, the kind of wisdom that comes from the One who created. This is a "life and death" issue with many, many facets. The issue is too complicated to be reduced to "causes."
So what can I do as I stand in the parking lot, sweltering in the heat, looking at a potential bomb that just produced the energy that gave me the relief I so desperately craved? I can be aware for starters. I can remember that my role as a steward of God's creation is not simply to take, but rather to manage. I can be ever aware of my energy use and look for ways to modify and use energy in a more healthy and respectful manner. I can pray for God's wisdom to help elect leaders who will seek justice in energy production and use. I can pray for those who have been and are being hurt by the problems arising from energy production and use. I can also look for ways to offer help.
I'm not a disconnected bystander. God's justice demands that I remember my connection with all God's children when it comes to the production and use of energy. I pray that God will give me the wisdom to act, to manage, and to help. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
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"But if any of you lack wisdom..."