I have seen miracles. I have seen God act powerfully, mysteriously and miraculously. I pay special attention to miracles at Christmas.
In our United Church Song of Faith we sing of how “God tends the universe, mending the broken and reconciling the estranged.” We go on to sing of the initiative that God took in the birth of Jesus, to make this mending and reconciling visible in a new way.
“We sing of Jesus, a Jew, born to a woman in poverty in a time of social upheaval and political oppression…. Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign – a commonwealth not of domination but of peace, justice, and reconciliation.” And because “his witness to love was threatening, those exercising power sought to silence Jesus.”
The COP17 talks have concluded, thirty-six hours after their scheduled adjournment. As I think of the nations who gave leadership in the closing hours, I think about Jesus’ mother, Mary. This young, powerless poor woman opened herself to be a vehicle of transformation, and carried hope into a tragic time of social upheaval and political oppression.
Scripture tells us that Mary understood the enormity of the hope she was carrying and she rejoiced in the radical change that this child would make possible. She sang with confidence that her son would turn the world’s powers upside down.
Here in Durban we prayed for a miracle and many will argue that we didn’t get one. The deal is described as insufficient and vague, its meaning still not fully understood. But I think there are hints of a miracle-in-the-making. For one thing poor, vulnerable nations led with their tenacious hold on hope, with the result that some nations are still in the Kyoto Protocol. The fear that Kyoto would die on African soil has not been realized.
Leadership was given by the smallest and most vulnerable island states, with Africans and Asians close behind. The EU came along as well, and some Africans are crediting the Non-governmental organizations and faith groups’ pressure for aiding this. As Dr. Jesse Mungambi said to me this morning, “At least in the North there was one group of nations that supported us.”
Indeed, there were a lot of Marys here: NGOs, governments and faith communities who have accepted the transformative burden of carrying hope. Our Canadian faith communities’ witness was vocal. We are among those expressing a willingness to sacrifice at least a few of our own comforts for the sake of carrying a much more important hope for life on this planet.
Our own Canadian government found it impossible to carry hope to the global community here in Durban. Perhaps, however, we saw a miracle in some of what Minister Peter Kent said. It was here in Durban when I first heard a minister of the crown of our current federal government acknowledge that climate change is our doing and represents “a disaster in the making.”
To quote Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” Perhaps our government has at least listened to enough angels in Durban to get this far.
The crack in our conscience and integrity is now exposed. You and I must make sure that light pours into every dark corner of our self interests and corporate interests in order that we choose to carry the burden of hope for to all of today’s children and their children. Jesus was born so that the miracle would continue in our choices for life over death.
We had better be humble enough to learn from smaller voices and less powerful governments who exhibit the strength and wisdom of Mary. These appear to be the ones prepared to risk a truth aligned more with God’s interests. These are the ones who have said yes to carrying hope into a broken world.
Canada may yet choose to participate in a miracle. But clearly it will not do so on the schedule for which we have prayed, and certainly not in time for December 25th 2011. We will continue to act and pray with both the longing and hope of Mary.