Opening Invocation from the Boston October 29 Rally


This invocation was offered by Reverend Catie Scudera, First Parish Needham Unitarian Universalist, at the opening of the October 29 rally in Boston to support the 21 Juliana v. United States plaintiffs.

Many thanks to our friends from Music Out Front for beginning this gathering with the power of song.

I am Reverend Catie Scudera, minister of First Parish in Needham, Unitarian Universalist, an Energy Star rated Green Sanctuary congregation. Part of our sacred mission is to advocate for environmental justice locally and around the world — we know that all living creatures are deeply interconnected with one another and with nature. The call of climate justice and a livable planet for generations to come drew me here today, and perhaps many of you as well.

We gather in support of twenty-one brave young people who have taken up the call of climate justice in a unique and powerful way: we gather to support Juliana versus the United States, Youth versus Government, our country’s children demanding responsible action from their elected and appointed officials who have the power to end our country’s dangerous, polluting ways.

We gather in support of children and teens who seek to save us all from climate disaster.

And, we make room in our hearts for those reeling from hate crimes and hateful policy proposals this week — for the African American community in Kentucky, for the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, and for the trans and genderqueer community nationwide. We can and do pay attention, Pray, and act in solidarity for more than one pressing issue at a time!

Will you join me in the spirit of prayer, mindfulness, and reflection, as we center ourselves on our purpose here today and lift up the names of these brave and dedicated young people?

Spirit of Life and Love, who is known by many names and experienced through many ways, we seek to bring forth the still small voice within each of us that cries out for justice and a livable planet for all peoples for generations to come.

In the sacred texts of all the major world religions, humanity is commanded to responsibly steward this shared Earth:

In indigenous traditions around the world, from the Americas to Africa to Asia, our most ancient stories ask us to journey across the earth gently.

In the Hindu Yajur Veda, we are invited to “live in complete harmony with Nature, [and] Experience the grace of God in the splendor of the universe.”

In the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path, we are cautioned that each and every one of our actions have consequences, and we must strive in our actions not to cause harm to any other living being.

In this very first book of both the Jewish and Christian scriptures, we are told that when each aspect of creation was complete, God looked upon it and declared it “good.”

And, in the Islamic Qur’an, we are cautioned from overconsumption and destruction: “[Allah] is who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and untrellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, [God] does not like those who commit excess.

The scriptures and spiritual traditions are clear — we are challenged to live with all other living beings in harmony; we are challenged to remember that every part of the world is good, is worthy; we are challenged to take only what is needed, not what is wanted. Those of us gathered here today take up this spiritual and ethical challenge, to live more gently upon the earth yet fiercely protect the health of our planet.

Spirit of Life and Love, we know one way we protect our shared home is to embed our values of sustainability and eco-justice into our largest human institutions, including our governments.

Together now we will speak the names of the twenty-one youth who are boldly taking their own government to court, demanding the United States take up its responsibility to preserve our environment for them and future generations. We lift up their names, respecting their struggle and their individual and collective strength, and sending them hope and courage:

Will you say with me their names?

  1. Kelsey (“Kelsey”), 22 years old;

  2. Xiuhtezcatl ["Shu-TEZ-caht"], (Xiuhtezcatl”) 18 years old;

  3. Miko, (“Miko”) 17 years old;

  4. Levi, (“Levi”) 11 years old;

  5. Isaac, (“Isaac”) 16 years old;

  6. Jaime, (“Jaime”) 17 years old;

  7. Nathan, (“Nathan”) 18 years old;

  8. Hazel, (“Hazel”) 14 years old;

  9. Nick, (“Nick”) 16 years old;

  10. Tia, (“Tia”) 21 years old;

  11. Journey, (“Journey”) 18 years old;

  12. Zealand, (“Zealand”) 14 years old;

  13. Aji, (“Aji”) 18 years old;

  14. Avery, (“Avery”) 13 years old;

  15. Jacob, (“Jacob”) 21 years old;

  16. Victoria, (“Victoria”) 19 years old;

  17. Kiran, (“Kiran”) 21 years old;

  18. Jayden, (“Jayden”) 15 years old;

  19. Sahara, (“Sahara”) 14 years old;

  20. Sophie, (“Sophie”) 19 years old;

  21. and, Alex, (“Alex”) 21 years old.

This rally is for them, and their cause: Kelsey, Xiuhtezcatl [“Shu-TEZ-caht”], Miko, Levi, Isaac, Jaime, Nathan, Hazel, Nick, Tia, Journey, Zealand, Aji, Avery, Jacob, Victoria, Kiran, Jayden, Sahara, Sophie, and Alex! This rally is for them!  

To close this prayerful time together, will you repeat after me: “Let the youth be heard”?

“Let the youth be heard.”

“Let the youth be heard.”

“Let the youth be heard.”

From our lips to the Holy’s ears, and to the ears of all of humanity that must rise up to meet this global challenge of climate change. May our words and deeds change hearts and save the planet. Blessed be, and amen.

Caitlin Howard