COP15 Day 11: Becoming the children of God

Bleached coral from the Pacific Ocean was the most eloquent voice in Copenhagen this week (during the Ecumenical Celebration for Creation), accompanied by glacier stones from Greenland, dried up maize from Africa, remarkable faith leaders from around the world, and words of scripture, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19).

These touched my soul, introduced me to friends in my global family, and invited me into God’s complex—and simple—healing of creation.
Not so long ago Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream about how the children of God would be revealed in his generation, making it possible for his four little children to live in a nation where they would not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

Today I leave Copenhagen dreaming about how the children of God may be revealed in this generation, making it possible for the whole human family, as well as coral, maize, and stones to be loved and cherished now and in generations to come—no longer exploited and destroyed for the short-term benefit of a few.

Barbara Rossing of The Lutheran World Federation was one of the extraordinary speakers at Tuesday’s “Creation and the Climate Crisis” program (organized by the Department of Systematic Theology and the National Council of Churches in Denmark.) Barbara grappled with the question “Where is God in this crisis?”—especially given that the people who’ve done the least to cause climate change are suffering the most from it.

Concluding a brilliant exegesis of Revelation, she said: “A number of scientists say that we have less than 10 years to act. We must name this as a Kairos moment of hope and of urgency. Revelation makes it clear that there is still time for our repentance, to come out of empire. God’s call is to leave Babylon and to enter into and be citizens of the New Jerusalem, in an earth-centred vision of the future, with ‘the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations’ (Rev. 22:2).”

This Kairos moment of hope and urgency will arrive as a result of caring hearts more than dispassionate negotiations. It is up to us to allow our own hearts to be opened to transformation, our behaviours changed, our worship re-imagined with the voices of all of creation, and our political lives re-energized—for the sake of love.

As Archbishop Rowan Williams said in Sunday’s sermon, “Perfect love casts out fear…. The truth is that what is most likely to bring us back from the brink is love.”

Back to Martin Luther King, Jr., who also said that we will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but also for the appalling silence of the good people.

Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen in Copenhagen today, the world cannot afford the silence of good people any longer. If the world’s leaders agree on both an amended Kyoto Protocol and a series of robust complementary decisions in the Conventions negotiations track, we must applaud them enthusiastically. If they fail to agree to a sustainable global emissions peak, undertake robust mitigation, and provide predictable finance to cover the costs of adaptation in developing countries, then we ourselves will need to inspire and provide leadership in these areas. We as churches must “walk the talk” by reducing our own GHG emissions (by ambitious targets), greening all of our buildings, changing our patterns of behaviour, and providing financial and moral support to global partners as they adapt to the effects of climate change. We will be silent no longer. We will act for the sake of love. We will become the children of God.

How will you and your congregation act for the sake of love? How will you become the children of God?

Mardi Tindal, Moderator of The United Church of Canada, is blogging from COP15, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 7–18, 2009.