Tuesday 14 September 2021

Hope amidst climate chaos

 Reflection at Morning Prayer for the Community of Brendan the Navigator on Tuesday 14th September 2021

Creation Time 2021

In the reading from Proverbs 1:20-33, we have just heard the voice of Wisdom, personified as a woman, raising her voice in the public square, crying out from the city walls and at the city gate, rebuking the people of a great city. If the people do not listen, says Wisdom, ‘the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them’.

Theologians, who always like to argue, disagree about the nature of Wisdom. Is she the mouth-piece of the Holy Spirit? Is her voice that of the as yet unborn Christ? But we can surely all agree her voice comes from God.

Today the prophetic voices of climate scientists and ecologists are calling out to us in the public square and the media, the modern equivalent of the city walls, to warn us that we must urgently change the way we live. Theirs is surely the voice of Wisdom in our own times. We must live sustainably within the resources of this good earth, or suffer the consequences. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels, our children and grandchildren will experience climate chaos – the droughts and fires, storms and floods of the last months are only the foretaste of what they will experience. If we continue to carelessly destroy the delicate web of life on this beautiful planet, there will not be enough food for all, many will starve, and the beautiful diversity of living creatures, which feeds our spirits, will be snuffed out.

Human nature is greedy, and our whole society is shaped by market capitalism, which generates ever greater consumption – the antithesis of sustainability. Will it be possible for human-kind to change course in time to prevent disaster?

The barriers to change are immense, and time is very short. It would be all too easy to lose hope. But that would lead to inaction, and bring about the disaster we fear. As Christians we are people of hope, people who rejoice in the good news, people who believe that the kingdom of God is at hand. The voice of Wisdom in Proverbs promises, ‘Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm’. We must listen to that voice of hope.

And there are signs of hope. More and more ordinary people are listening to the wisdom of scientists. Governments around the world are beginning to take action. They will come together in October in Yunnan, China for the UN Biodiversity Conference, and in November in Glasgow at the COP26 UN Climate Conference.

At the start of Creation Time 2021, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a rare joint message, called on us to pray for world leaders as they prepare to meet, and to consider what choices we all must make. ‘We call on everyone’, they say, ‘whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.’

Let us join them in prayer:

We pray for the good earth which God has given us, and for the wisdom and will to conserve it.

We pray for the world leaders preparing to meet in Glasgow at the COP26 climate change conference in November, and in October at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Yunnan.

Grant them the wisdom to take the hard decisions before them.

And inspire us all to make meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the planet,

working together and taking responsibility for how we use our resources.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen