The two young ladies were noisy. Vinisha Umashankar and Greta Thunberg. Vinisha said: “We’ll build the future, even if you are stuck in the past. I’m not just a girl from India. I’m a girl from Earth.” (15 years old!). Greta Thunberg said: “The politicians are pretending to take our future seriously.” She said more than that too with her blah, blah, blah plus. Joe Biden showed how the US took everything seriously when he arrived to see Pope Francis with 85 big cars in his cavalcade. Surely his entourage didn’t need all of that. This was part of his journey towards Glasgow! Rather contradictory. The Queen didn’t reach COP26 but did remind politicians that “the politics of the moment weren’t good enough. The time for words has now moved to the time for action. ” David Attenborough told the conference that it was “time to rewrite our story; to be motivated by hope not fear.” Two old ones of 95. Two young ones. It is a challenging time to be a politician. It will be very unpopular to implement the necessary carbon plans. The humouring of those who want simple and immediate solutions to everything won’t be placated with the huge demands now necessary. Covid was bad. But climate change and earth-warming policies, will shake up the political establishment and all of us.
Recent events in Glasgow, highlight climate and environmental issues have been led by young people. As adults we must listen and embrace their concerns and activism. Being Green, is also being Christian….in his encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis says…..“[The earth] now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”
“I wonder if you have thought what it might be like to be facing climate breakdown, without having a faith? For many people, this is their reality. I have for so long now been sure that I am loved, that I have a reason for hope, and that nothing can separate me from the love of God, (neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,’. I believe, along with Julian of Norwich, that ‘All will be well’. Some people are not just going through their life with the usual uncertainty about their personal future, with a fear of death – their own, their loved ones, but now have added to that the fear that the whole of the world, everything that lives and breathes, all plant life, sea life, animate and inanimate, is under threat.”
As individuals it is easy to feel so small and insignificant that we are at the mercy of what is coming, with no power to change things. So, what can we offer people without faith, as Christians?
We can offer what we are and how we are.
We can show by the way that we live and act that we have hope.
We can be people who can listen, and we can provide a good, positive place for others to be heard, to be angry or upset.
We can face the truth together and not deny it. Our hope is not a head in the sand hope, it is hope with our eyes wide open to the truth.
We can actively enjoy the world as it is, we are surrounded by beauty – clouds, birds, petals, caterpillars.
We can show love to each other and to all others.
We can be good to be around.
We can join with other activists and campaigners out of love for the world we believe is lovingly created and out of love for all of us who depend on it.
We can speak truth to power and choose silence if accused falsely of wrong doing – both tactics which Jesus adopted.
For some people, heading for climate breakdown is terrifying, risking arrest because of civil disobedience is frightening, being ostracised by those who think we are doing the wrong thing, is upsetting; for Christians though, we have an inner light, we are part of the vine, in God, in Jesus, intimately connected to each other (John 15) and we know that even if things turn against us we need not despair. ‘We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.’ I think what we have to offer to climate change activists and those frightened by climate change is faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is Love.
A Prayer on Climate Change
Creator God, this earth is miraculous and beautiful. Forgive our confusion and inaction as we confront the challenges of climate change. In the light of your truth, seen so clearly in the life and teaching of Jesus, help us to re-examine ourselves and our lifestyle choices and see clearly the implications of how we live on all that sustains life on this earth. May we follow your lead in caring for every aspect of this precious world, which you made, and love. We pray for world leaders to find new, just and radical agreements that will protect our fragile world for future generations.
Throughout history you have moved people to do amazing things for the sake of their neighbours. Inspire us now to work together, as your people, to change priorities in the way we live, so that we build a fair and safe world for all your creation; a world where your will is done as it is in heaven. Amen.