In prayerful preparation for global environmental talks
November 8th, 2021
Bishop Philip Huggins
We have family staying with us unexpectedly. Like many, the pandemic has caused them big disruptions. It’s been quite confusing for their little boy.
On the week they arrived, a wattlebird began building a nest in the lemon tree outside his new bedroom window. We watch as the little bird sits patiently on her eggs. We have placed food where she can get it easily and delight as she keeps coming back for more.
The birth of the babies and their first flight is anticipated. My wife is trusted to be close enough to picture the eggs.
It may seem a stretch, but I see all of this in the love of God for all creation and the encompassing of our little grandchild so tenderly. We have never had a bird build a nest in that tree before!
Prior to the United Nations Climate Conference, COP25, in Madrid in 2019 there was a huge rally. A young Lutheran gave me a biblical banner to carry.
One thing I have learned from many years of ministry is that we must continually unlearn whatever makes God too small.
The love of God for all creation is completely wonderful. Our worship of God flows into care for all who share our common home.
I went to COP25 and keep involved for the sake of all I love in God’s creation – including my grandchildren and their generation.
We take to heart what our spiritual leaders say in their poignant Joint Message: “We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations.”
Hence their quote from Deuteronomy (30:19): “Choose life, so that you and your children might live.”
The Joint Statement has been criticised, by some, for not explicitly condemning the vested interests and the political ineptitude that has blocked faster climate action until now.
But they do quote Jesus’ clear teachings, including the parable “of the rich and foolish man who stores great wealth of grain while forgetting about his finite end.”
There in Luke 12.13- 21 Jesus says, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”
That is the context for this parable. It critiques greed for more profits from industries causing global warming; greed for political power – to gain it and then to hold onto it, by whatever means and without consideration beyond a next election!
In communion with the Divine Creator, who “brought all things into existence from nothing”, we keep saying, in various ways: “You want to continue doing exactly what you know is causing global temperatures to rise, endangering many lives and destroying many irreplaceable species – for what?!”
We are compelled into climate action as a matter of love. Our love of God flows naturally into a love for our neighbours, including our Pacific neighbours who are literally going under as we speak.
We have offered our advocacy and will continue to do so.
But as the crucial COP26 begins it is also our responsibility to pray for beneficial outcomes.
Internationally, in our varied time zones, people of faith are being encouraged to participate together in three ways, especially from 31 October until 14 November:
• At noon each day: silent prayer and meditation, perhaps with symbolic actions like bell-ringing, lighting candles, standing silently together wherever we are.
• At 7 pm each day: deep meditation and prayer, utilising special prayers which will be provided by those on the spot in Glasgow.
• A Pilgrimage Event, “Faiths for Climate Justice”, on 6 November (ahead of the crucial final week of negotiations at COP26).
All this is being coordinated by the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the UNFCCC (https://interfaithliaisoncommittee.carrd.co).
Beholding the love of God for all creation, everything and everyone is included.
We are praying for the miraculous transformation of our planetary life at this time, through the success of COP26.
We all understand the difference between a holy place with a holy atmosphere and a place that needs prayerful, transfiguring influences. Our world, including those who will gather at COP26, need our loving prayers and meditations. Let’s offer them together!
“Jesus have mercy.” Amen.
Postscript: The baby birds were born! Our grandson sat with his binoculars to watch the mother return with food for the newborn wattlebirds! A moment beyond wonderful for us all, thanks be to God!
Bishop Philip Huggins is President, National Council of Churches in Australia. Republished with permission.