Church was the place to be in Copenhagen today. Spending the day with church leaders was a blessing too. I began the day in the presence of one very special church leader who is serving as the epicentre of eco-hope here in Copenhagen.
At our morning gathering, Desmond Tutu bounded in with his trademark bright and bouncy energy, encouraging us all. Then it was off to a huge Climate Justice rally in the city square, where he was greeted like a rock star. He spoke of God’s tears over what we’ve done to the earth—and to one another—and of how he imagines those tears being wiped away as the commitment of millions of people to climate justice the world over comes together to move hearts, minds, and government actions. As Tutu does so well, he brought every soul together, reminding us that we are all of one family.
Shortly afterward the Ecumenical Celebration for Creation was held in the Copenhagen Lutheran Cathedral. I hate to think of how many hundreds of people who had lined up in frigid temperatures were turned away with no room for them inside. Some were young, desperate to have a word with Tutu. For countless viewers at home, the service was broadcast. Joining Tutu were worship leaders from around the world, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who preached as brilliantly—and as freshly—as he had at Trinity Church last evening. Love for all is the only thing that will drive out fear, he said. This built on last night’s message that focused on God’s covenant—a covenant not only with humans but also with all life—and our corresponding responsibility to be a presence and a promise to the whole world.
For me, the most moving liturgical moment (in a brilliant hour-long service of worship) was the procession of three symbols of climate change: glacier stones from Greenland, dried up maize from Africa, and bleached corals from the Pacific Ocean. The whole world was with us—and we were with the whole world.
Everyone carried a lit candle of hope as we processed out of the cathedral. Many cupped their hands around their little flames, trying to keep their candles lit against the wintry winds. They were afraid, I think, of letting go of the love and hope they had experienced inside. I felt the same way, yet when my candle was snuffed out, the bells continued to ring, along with thousands of church bells around the world—and throughout Canada—bells for climate justice that would continue to ring for hours to come, along with prayers and actions that would continue for days and months and years to come. Loving prayers and actions to drive out fear.
Tomorrow you and I try again to carry that love that drives out fear. I’m feeling better prepared for the challenge due to the epicentre of hope showing up again at day’s end. Tutu cannot help but offer blessing, and tonight it was to church and government leaders: “You are all wonderful people. God needs you, and the world needs you.”
So please receive Desmond Tutu’s blessing because it is true: You are all wonderful people—including political leaders. God needs you and the world needs you.