My last message from Copenhagen was over a week ago. Daily blogs were planned to end on December 18th, but it’s time to renew my regular (normally weekly) correspondence.
I will need more time to come to terms with post-Copenhagen disappointment and inspiration. But in company with David MacDonald and Alanna Mitchell (both of whom were also at COP15) I have shared with some good friends my deep sadness over the lack of a legally binding agreement. And yet, those who listened to us so carefully expressed amazement at the inspiration they say they heard from our lips. Frankly, this helped me listen more carefully for the hope within our own stories.
I’m hopeful in part because I’ve had safe places to lament since my return. When it came time for Sunday worship two days later, Doug and I decided to set out for our home congregation of Sydenham Street United in Brantford. As I said en route, “I need to worship this morning where it’s safe for me to weep over the millions of lives that have just been lost due to the lack of a climate agreement.” It was also very good to be able to say “thank you” to this congregation—as I want to say to all congregations across the country—that supported church leaders in our efforts through bell ringing, letters, and more. I was able to tell the truth in worship that morning too—the truth being that hope from here lies in the actions of communities of faith such as ours.
I don’t think I could have returned to hope without being so fully supported through lament, reminding me of Walter Brueggemann’s wonderful writing in his classic book, The Prophetic Imagination.
Brueggemann described Moses’ efforts to form a new community centred on God’s freedom, justice, and compassion—a community that would reject oppression and exploitation. As I recall his description of the progression toward hope, it begins with lament and critique—critique that enables a community to express its grief together, thereby providing the energy with which a new hope-filled vision is created, a way to imagine the future. The prophetic imagination is multi-faceted and poetic, creative and new, guided by the vision of God’s realm.
The lament and critique that energizes us comes from our love of God, neighbour, and creation. Complaining about others’ deficiencies will not provide the necessary energy. We will be energized if we ourselves embody the change we are seeking.
As people of faith, we understand something of the genesis of hope. Let us begin this year with a vision that is of God, and act in ways that bring energy to such hope.
Christ is born. Our lives are changed. Thanks be to God. May this be a hope-filled year, and may it begin with us.
How has lament fuelled your own energetic, hope-filled actions?