And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”

(Revelation 21:5)

Nearly every Sunday, my suburban Virginia congregation prays for our government and its leaders. Maybe your congregation does something similar? This commonplace prayer for leadership has taken on new meaning for me recently because this year the United Nations will adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals. These goals will encourage member countries to make economic decisions that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In addition, this December parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet to adopt a new global agreement to reduce climate change emissions, again in the belief that present generations can meet our needs without compromising the well-being of future generations.

Both the Sustainable Development Goals and the new climate change agreement are about long-term planning; something that government leaders rarely have the space or time to do. These global discussions have the potential to change economic development paradigms by turning the world toward new sources of energy and to the task of building communities and nations that are more resilient to the growing impacts of our changing climate. But changes will only be possible if leaders act with wisdom and care for God’s creation and for our most vulnerable neighbors.

So these prayers for leadership I join each week have taken on a new urgency for me as 2015 begins. But even as I, and others, pray for global leaders to begin the hard and visionary work to shape our shared future along more sustainable lines, I also wonder if we are putting too much of the burden of planning for the future on our leaders and institutions. Are we forgetting that each of us has our own responsibility to consider the needs of our children and future generations?

As Christians we believe we are called to build Christ’s kingdom here on earth by living our lives as Christ taught us and caring for each other and for the earth. Strong leaders and institutions are necessary to build that new world but so is individual and community action. Each of us has a part to play – in our daily lives, in our congregations and in our communities –  to make sure that the world we leave behind allows people and creation to live and thrive well into the future.

So this year, instead of my usual New Year’s resolution to save more or exercise more often or eat more vegetables, I’m thinking about resolutions that will help in our transformation to a more sustainable world. I’m looking at the things I already do, like using cloth grocery bags and drying my clothes on a clothesline in the warmer months, and vowing to do more. Will you join me?

Pledge to take action here (and you can also sign a petition asking our leaders to support global action on climate change).