Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007, calling on individuals and busineses to recognise the threat of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) by switching off lights and other electrical appliances for just one hour. It has now spread as a global movement. Its webpage is found here and Facebook page here.
One may wonder at the value of this, after all 1 hour won't make much difference to the amount of green house gases (GHGs) the word emits. So isn't this empty symbolism? And what does some "pointless" event have to do with the church and individual Christians?
Firstly, Earth Hour recognises that AGW is real, something not enough Christians do. If you don't believe it is happening, it is our fault and the impacts are going to be serious (and are being in some places already) then you are not looking carefully enough at the science, and indeed at your own epistemology and ideology. Some sections of the church are woefully behing in this, indeed risk being "Left Behind" in its mission to live out proleptically the future shalom, that holistic restoration of creation.
Secondly, the church most of all should be accustomed to symbolism, outward signs of inner transformations, first fruits of greater realities, etc. No one says that Earth Hour will save the world (of course only Christ can do that), but it is a taste of action required and a visible commitment to that change.
Thirdly, as a people in exile, the church like Israel should work for the well being of the society of which it is a part. Working with people of all faiths or none means getting on board with whatever is going, while retaining our distinctives. So here's a few ideas.
1. Have a prayer service by candlelight, praying for Christ to return to bring the creation to rights, the non-human and evil and sin.
2. Celebrate communion, remembering that bread and wine are the fruits of the Earth we have been called to care for.
3. Enjoy a meal prepared from your or someone else's garden, or a low carbon meal (which usually means vego) and remember our connection to the earth as humans from the humus.
4. Eat simply and remember the starving millions, especially those already displaced by AGW or suffering due to droughts or floods exaccerbated by AGW. Ask for forgiveness for covetousness and greed.
5. Host an event (could even be by candlelight) discussing Christian spirituality and the environmental crisis. Christian spirituality can align with this event in so many ways.
It's God's world, given to us made in his image to care for. Don't be left behind on Earth Hour.
Earth Hour 2011: 8.30pm, Saturday 26 March