Tag Archives: COP17

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Epiphany: Witness, Leadership, and a New Path

Hope was born in a stable, and those the world had judged wise came to see. After witnessing this fragile new hope, the Magi “went home by a different way.” They were not the same.

My thoughts this Epiphany are filled with both the fragile new hope that I saw born at the UN climate change talks in Durban, and the bitter disappointment that calls us to go home by a new and different way.

On the one hand, according to the best science available, the Durban talks failed to produce large enough emission reduction targets to avert destructive climate change, of which last year’s extreme weather is the merest foretaste.

And yet, for the first time ever, all nations have said that they will commit to enforceable climate action by 2015.

And even though Canada bitterly disappointed the world, many nations still hold the fragile hope that Canada will commit itself to a generous way of compassion and justice.

If we are to return home by a different way, we are called to nourish this fragile hope.

Witness

I speak often about the interrelationship of soul, community, and creation. In my view, everything good begins in the soul, that inner place where we listen deeply to the “still, small voice” that speaks to us of truth.

When we hear that still, small voice, our soul longs to fulfill its call in community. Our souls need community to help us align our inner knowing with our outer work. This is what allows us to act with integrity in the world. Caring for God’s creation arises from souls and community in harmony with each other.

Christians and other people of faith have a particular responsibility as people who listen to that still, small voice and create community where it can be heard more clearly. In our United Church Song of Faith, we sing of participating in God’s healing of creation. Shared worship and work, prayer, scripture, and other language of the heart help us find our way home to God, one another, and creation.

In Durban, I met with Peter Kent, Canada’s Minister of the Environment. To my surprise, Mr. Kent was forthright in calling climate change a “disaster in the making.” I became convinced that he understands the causes and consequences of climate change. He spoke of a climate change presentation in Durban that he said made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end.

I take Mr. Kent’s words to mean that he knows in his soul that Canada must choose between contributing to global disaster or to global healing—so I wonder all the more about his resistance to actions that would prevent further climate change. I therefore feel compassion for him, as he must have a terrible inner struggle, knowing we could be doing so much more to prevent massive suffering and death. If he finds the courage to embrace the fragile hope born in Durban, he will need our support.

Leadership

As Moderator I have learned something about the ambiguities of leadership and the complex interrelationship between the one who is designated “leader” and the people of his or her community.

It matters whom we include in our community. We need others with whom our understanding and compassion will be stretched. I believe this is a fundamental requirement of leadership. I hope Mr. Kent is able to claim all Canadians and, indeed, all global citizens as his community. If the relatively small community of climate skeptics in Canada is the community he chooses to identify with, it will become harder for him to remember the cries he heard in Africa from people begging for climate justice, and for their lives.

For myself, I choose to claim Peter Kent as part of my community. I will not exclude him from those I am prepared to talk and work with to prevent the disaster in the making. In Durban, Mr. Kent told the General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada and me that he is prepared to keep meeting with us. This holds the possibility that a difficult and necessary conversation about the choices facing Canada will continue.

As Canadians, we need to convince our leaders that we will support morally responsible choices for the sake of life for all. Morally responsible choices embrace the needs and the wisdom of others in our global community. Morally responsible choices stir us to march alongside youth, to the beat of impatient hope.

A new path

Hope was born in a stable, a hope for all humanity, a hope for the whole world. It came as a helpless infant, so all of us should understand the need to nourish and care for it. God entrusted us to care for God’s Son the same way God entrusted us to care for God’s creation. We cannot care for one without caring for the other.

As humanity, we have only one home. Science tells us we must limit climate change in order to survive as a species. Faith tells us we must limit climate change because God calls us to love one another as God loves us. To return home means to embrace Earth as the place that sustains us and as the gift God gives us.

I pray that you will find opportunities this year to listen carefully to that still, small voice and discover what it means for you to go home by a different way. I pray that you will feel part of a community that helps you celebrate your right place and relationships in God’s good creation. I pray that together we will protect and nourish the fragile hope born in Durban. We are people of soul, community, and creation.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Christmas Miracles

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.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Longing for Leadership

Leadership is what the 15,000 of us here in Durban are waiting for.

As Dr. Jesse Mugambi said yesterday, “We’re not seeing statesmanship here in Durban. We’re seeing politics and that’s not the same thing. Statesmanship means you’re prepared to give leadership even when there’s a political cost.”

Wikipedia describes Professor Jesse Mugambi as one of the most challenging and prolific African scholars in the disciplines of Christian Theology, Philosophy of Religion and Applied Ethics. Jesse has also had a long and distinguished career of giving leadership to the ecumenical movement. He has become a good friend.

The longing to see more leadership than politics runs deep here and no one expresses this longing more eloquently than the young adults and scientists. Canada’s negotiators must have found yesterday morning’s briefing tough. For example, a young adult asked Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques:

“Can you look me in the eye and tell me you’re negotiating in good faith on behalf of my generation – and not on behalf of oil companies?”

Then, on the heels of that question, a researcher added:

“Part of the scepticism you’re seeing here comes from numerous studies to which the minister hasn’t even responded. We’re seeing changes on our own coastal areas and the minister doesn’t say anything about the climate impacts in Canada or about two degrees. When I look at leadership I see people who are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.

“People who are really committed to this don’t just re-state positions time and time again. They go beyond, they take that extra mile. I’d rather not hear [in Canadian government briefings] what the Indians and Chinese are doing, but rather how as Canada we can come up with a new proposal and break the log jam. Because frankly, what we’re hearing from you is that Canada is looking backward. A failure in Durban locks us into a 3-4 degree rise… So what is it that we’ve brought to the table to come to a successful end?”

The many capable and dedicated civil servants from Canada have good political answers to these questions. But we can’t expect them to bring the answers of statesmanship. Leadership comes from government.

Willard Metzger and I brought higher expectations to our late afternoon meeting with Minister Peter Kent.

I happen to admire Peter Kent’s fine reputation as a principled journalist. He was one of the first to report about climate change in 1984, and I have expected good things of him in this position.

There was some reassurance in yesterday’s meeting:

The minister understands and accepts the science of climate change and the magnitude of the problem. He spoke of “real urgency” and “a disaster in the making.” He mentioned a presentation about climate change impacts that had the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end.

I left our meeting no more assured, however, about Canada’s willingness to give leadership. When asked about the moral and social justice frame within which Canada’s position can be understood, the minister’s answers were political: “We’re proud of our resources, our regulations and our shared prosperity.” He spoke of how Canada is “fulfilling our obligations.” There are many who have good reason to take issue with him on this point.

Minister Kent laments that the Canadian media aren’t interested in climate change – apart from a few – and how this creates a communication challenge. And he made it clear that he would like to see our conversation continue. Indeed, he was generous with his time yesterday, extending our meeting beyond the scheduled end point at the understandable agitation of his staff.

So our challenge is clear. The minister has read our Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action and has indicated that our recommendations are reasonable. Now is the time to take him up on his openness to more conversation.

Minister Kent has demonstrated that he understands the seriousness of the scientific evidence of human-made climate change. I imagine that he must be engaged in an inner struggle to reconcile what he knows to be true with the economic path that Canada is following. Such cognitive dissonance is, quite frankly, a step forward, and we must support him in finding ways to reconcile what so many of us see as contradictions within Canada’s position.

At a religious leaders’ press conference this morning a journalist asked me about what is standing in the way of moral leadership from Canada. I said that we as Canadians must convince our Minister and our other political leaders that we will follow them when they do the right things; that the political cost of giving climate change leadership is not as great as they might fear. Indeed there could very well be a political gain for our government if it is prepared to lead. Nations who are stepping up to give leadership in Durban have already begun to ensure that their children and grandchildren will have jobs. They are ahead of us in the green jobs race, investing in renewable industries more than unsustainable ones. Canada still has time to avoid being left behind if it acts soon to invest in lower-carbon emission economic directions.

Within the moral framework in which people of faith function ‘our resources’ are not ours and ‘shared prosperity’ requires a just distribution of the conditions of life for all, in this generation and for generations to come.

The President of the COP17 has just told a press conference that efforts continue “to save tomorrow today.” Leadership is required over these next few hours and in the days and months to come. There is still reason for hope and need for prayer.

After all, this is the land of miracles where leaders have risen in the confidence that when they do the right things the people will follow. South Africa did not achieve what it has with leaders who fearfully calculated political costs. It is up to us as citizens to make it clear that we will support the moral leadership for which we long.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Amazing Grace

My heart pounded when we sang Amazing Grace in our service on Sunday here in Durban.

“… I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.”

Soul-naked words that stir hearts everywhere. Words that transcend all boundaries because they speak to the universal human experience of being confronted with a choice between good and evil.

John Newton wrote this hymn when he needed to make a choice. He was a slave trader – wealthy, no doubt. His heart was changed when he realized that he had to choose between moral and immoral commerce.

With his choice made and his heart changed, Newton crafted a song that expressed his deep sense of relief and salvation, putting it to a West African tune that he had heard slaves singing from the depths of his ship. He was no longer prepared to sell people – or his soul.

Every broadly based social change throughout history has begun when individuals like Newton decided to no longer sell their souls, when they realized that they were participating in a system they couldn’t live with and made a choice to change.

John Woolman is another example. Woolman was a Quaker living in colonial New Jersey in the 1700s. He was a tailor by trade who received a ‘leading from God’ that slavery was a moral abomination and that Quakers should free their slaves. He took his concern to his Quaker meeting, asking Friends to ‘test his leading’. Two things became clear to Woolman’s community: 1) his personal integrity was beyond doubt and 2) many Friends remained unwilling to free their slaves.

Freeing slaves would mean considerable financial stress for the well-heeled Quaker gentry. But Woolman carried on, believing deeply that God is in every person. He continued acting in a way that was true to his own beliefs while also respecting those whose views differed from his own. And the community kept talking.

At the end of the day, Quakers were the first religious community in the U.S. to free their slaves, some 80 years before the Civil War. And in 1783, a decade after Woolman’s death, Quakers petitioned the U.S. Congress to correct “the complicated evils and unrighteous commerce created by the enslavement of human beings.”

Here in Durban we are witnessing the effects of another set of complicated evils and unrighteous commerce.

Modern civilization’s economic wealth relies on the burning of fossil fuels that puts high levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That carbon is disturbing the climate, depriving some nations of the world of the ability to grow food to feed their people. It’s causing catastrophic storms and droughts that are killing tens of millions a year right now. It’s even threatening some nations with disappearance, including the low-lying islands of the Pacific Ocean.

These are the countries that are already poor, that have not built wealth so far from the burning of fossil fuels. Yet they are the first to feel the harm from the changing climate. They did not create the problem. They don’t take part in the profit. Yet they are suffering, even dying, under a system they can’t change on their own.

In effect, they are giving up their security, their lands, their lives in some cases, so that others can get rich. And who can change the system? The very ones who are getting rich. The countries that are using fossil fuels to grow their wealth.

To me, it sounds like slavery by the name of economic development.

Just as slavery was an immoral economic system that harmed many and profited few, burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide into our common atmosphere is an immoral economic system that harms many and profits few.

The solution in Woolman’s day was to abolish slavery. It took a civil war. And then the U.S. grew to become the strongest economy in the world.

The solution today is to phase out fossil fuels and develop clean green fuels. The countries in the position to pay for that and press it forward are the rich ones. And among them all, the Europeans are the only ones who are taking significant action. They were also the ones, by the way, who questioned slavery early on.

This is a moment of choice. We must choose between either committing ourselves to agreements that will allow a fairer economic system or carry on with morally bankrupt and unsustainable economies that enslave the poor now and will eventually threaten life on the whole planet, even those living in the rich nations.

The poignancy that this moment is taking place on the continent of Africa, source of the world’s slaves in eras gone by, and that Africa will be the first hit as climate disturbances increase, is not lost on me.

And today I witnessed six members of the Canadian Youth Delegation as they stood in silent protest when Canada’s Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, addressed the plenary. Their T-shirts read: ‘People over Profits; Turn Your Back on Canada.’

While I personally remain committed to talking and praying until unity is achieved, I understand these young adults’ sense of urgency. Justice could not have come soon enough for slaves, and yet that dreadful economic system wasn’t facing a natural limit. The Earth’s life support system, on the other hand, does have a natural limit. Hard choices need to be made today.

As they were ushered out of the meeting hall, I saw peace in the young protestors’ faces. Remaining disengaged or passive in the face of Canada’s resistance to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is not a defendable choice. These Canadian youth know that their survival – and their souls – are at stake if they don’t speak up. They are prepared to risk whatever consequences their peaceful protest will bring.

They left the hall with more friends than when they arrived. The applause that enveloped them arose from a very polite, normally restrained international crowd.

I think of the action of the Canadian Youth Delegation as an invitation to amazing grace.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Epicentre of an Earthquake

Before leaving home for the COP17 climate talks, my climate advisor, environmental journalist Alanna Mitchell declared, “It will be like going into the epicentre of an earthquake before it happens, knowing that you might be able to do something to prevent it.”

These words haunt me. Every day there is growing evidence – in science and story – that Alanna is right about the looming ‘earthquake’ known as the inevitable effects of global warming. Climate change has already taken countless lives and is now threatening millions more in Africa and Asia, not to mention those of sinking island states and others.

Thousands of Africans with whom I marched on Saturday have already seen lives lost. It seems that the world, including Christians, can be as generous as possible when we give aid in response to the devastation from an earthquake, but unless we help prevent the catastrophe that’s brewing on this continent, there is no way we’ll be able to meet the needs or prevent unimaginable suffering and death. Even our own capacity will increasingly be affected by the impact of climate change on our own economy.

As African countries said in a news conference in Durban today, “Africa will be hit first and hardest by global climate change according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The continent has contributed the least to climate change, and is among the least equipped to adapt to its adverse effects. More than one billion people in Africa and millions of others living on small islands, least developed and other vulnerable countries will bear the potentially catastrophic effects of land loss, food and water shortage, crop reduction and flooding.”

Shawn McCarthy offers a related analysis in the Globe and Mail of the reasons why Africa is angry at Canada.: www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/african-countries-press-developed-world-to-come-to-climate-deal/article2259029/

Africans have always known Canadians to be compassionate, well educated, globally minded planetary citizens and friends, but they have begun to wonder about us. Bewilderment – and growing despair – over Canada’s seeming lack of commitment to the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol are particularly upsetting to them. They understand Canada’s position that other developing nations also need to reduce emissions. But their worst fear is that Canada will ultimately betray them and contribute to a result that is weaker rather than stronger.

Before I was born Canada turned away boat loads of war refugees whose lives were clearly at risk, something that Canadians are still deeply ashamed of. During my life time I have not seen my nation undertake such a betrayal of humanity – and I pray that it won’t happen this week. Most observers say that these talks are our last hope to avoid disaster, our last chance to help prevent an off-the-scales climate change earthquake that will affect billions.

The President of COP17, Her Excellency Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane asked the South African Council of Churches to arrange a special prayer service for the talks yesterday. She asked for prayers to help her get all governments to prevent a 2C degree rise in temperatures, building on the Kyoto Protocol. She also said that clear progress is being made in creating institutions that will help nations adapt to the worst of climate change. In other words, she asked us to pray for both the prevention of the earthquake and for help for those who are already suffering as a result of early tremors.

I don’t recall Jesus turning anyone away. May we turn no one away.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Fast Prayer

I’m praying especially for former Moderator Bill Phipps this morning, as he is half way through his two week Fast for Courage for climate justice.

As Bill said in a recent blog posting: “Endless consumption of the Earth, our only home, is no longer possible…. We need a new paradign for our economic future. Climate change needs to be addressed seriously NOW.”

Our gratitude for your witness, and our prayers are with you, Bill.

Please follow the progess of Bill’s meetings and vigils this week:

http://www.billphipps.ca/fast-for-courage.html

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: We Have Faith; Let us Pray

As you plan to worship and pray tomorrow, Sunday, December 4th, please consider joining your prayers with ours as faith leaders at the COP17 climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.

We will begin praying in a large interfaith service at 3:00pm. Morning prayers offered in North America – for the healing and mending of God’s world – will be joined with ours. Here is a two minute video prayer for easy use in congregational worship: bit.ly/prUDXR

Today I marched with what I’m told were 15,000 to 20,000 others. The crowd of us representing people of faith chanted ‘We have faith’ and ‘Climate Justice now’ interspersed with harmonic African singing and all of us joining in choruses of ‘Amen’.

We are people of hope. We are one people of one Spirit. Let us join our hearts and minds in prayer for all of God’s people, for all of God’s world.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Indaba: Calling the Circle

The President of COP17, Her Excellency Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is bringing African wisdom to her leadership in these negotiations. This represents a tremendous opportunity for the global community.

During yesterday morning’s briefing, Canada’s Climate Ambassador Guy St- Jacques explained that Her Excellency has invited nations into an Indaba – a gathering of the chiefs, where, as I understand it, each voice is honoured and equal.

(The subject of this particular Indaba is the Green Climate Fund, a means by which to help those most affected by climate change with the very difficult work of adapting to dramatically changed lands, waters and weather patterns. Early rumours are that this process is allowing for unanimity to emerge efficiently on critical points.)

This reminded me of Her Excellency’s comment at last Sunday’s interfaith rally. She said that trust is necessary for successful negotiations here in Durban.

What I’m most concerned about at this point in the negotiations is that those both directly and indirectly involved will allow their frustrations to overflow into actions that unravel trust. That would jeopardize the negotiations. As church leaders we have a calling to behave in ways that contribute to “God’s healing and mending of creation.” Climate change is too urgent a concern to risk eroding that trust.

I was asked by ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together, through whom The United Church of Canada works with 124 other churches to respond to global emergency and development needs) a couple of days ago to speak at one of our briefing sessions here in Durban about how church leaders can influence politicians.

I was surprised by the invitation, especially given concern about Canada’s perceived position. I accepted it in order to tell them some of what I’ve learned about this from African church leaders including Desmond Tutu. For example:

  • Draw the circle wide so no one is left out of the conversation because everyone is needed if we are to meet the challenge. As Tutu said at the interfaith rally last Sunday, we are one family with only one home.
  • Assume the best intentions. Too often we react based on inaccurate or twisted media reports which lead us to believe that someone else isn’t as concerned about his or her children as we are about ours. When we assume the worst we usually get it.

I am reminded of the Biblical mandate to seek the unity that ‘one family with one home’ will need to survive. Paul wrote about “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). Jesus said the peacemakers are blessed (Matthew 5:9). Again, Paul reminds us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all (Romans 12:18).

The way in which we resolve our conflicts — on this and other issues –matters to God. Wisdom from both Biblical and other traditions is required in this critical moment.

Willard Metzger (General Secretary of Mennonite Church Canada) and I have asked for a meeting with Canada’s Minister of the Environment Peter Kent, when he is here next week. If he grants this meeting, we will bring with us the encouraging words of Canada’s faith leaders who, like Mr. Kent, want a solution to the crisis of climate change. And may it be a fruitful Indaba, so that all peoples may be blessed and God’s creation healed.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Praying for Courage

One of my tasks here at COP17 is to pray for courage.

It takes courage to listen humbly.

Climate change is having a devastating effect on most countries and countless lives. Increased flooding, expanding areas of drought and extreme weather have claimed and threatened millions of lives. The woman representing Thailand spoke yesterday through a wavering voice, telling the world that over five million families have been affected by recent flooding in her country. The man representing Somalia spoke of 29,000 children who have died and the four million people who face starvation as a result of drought. It takes courage to share these truths with such grace, and to keep one’s heart open to suffering on such a large scale.

It takes courage to raise difficult questions.

During this morning’s early briefing session with Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s Chief Negotiator and Climate Change Ambassador, young adult Canadians filled the room to respectfully ask pointed questions about Canada’s position. Shortly thereafter, Willard Metzger  and I were asked the same questions at the faith communities’ briefing. Willard is the General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada. It seems that everyone in Durban – from national negotiators to hotel staff – wants to understand Canada’s position. It takes no time for Canadian news reports to find their way to Africa, so everyone wants to ask if it’s true that Canada intends to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. To most nations, this comes as terrible, shocking news. When asked about it this morning, Guy St. Jacques answered, “”There is no decision that I am aware of that Canada will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. And Minister Kent has neither confirmed nor denied the reported statement.” It takes courage to represent Canada, whether you’re asking tough questions or grappling with the answers, whether you’re a negotiator or a representative of youth or churches.

At every turn, it seems, I am meeting friends of The United Church of Canada, from Canada and elsewhere, who tell me that our church is a courageous church. When I sat down to eat a sandwich yesterday I landed next to Vernie, a woman with the Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Centre in the Philippines. We had never met before and yet had so much to talk about. I knew about her organization as a result of visiting partners in the Philippines a year ago and we have several friends in common.

It takes courage to pray.

And, if we are to be truly courageous, we will be grounded in prayer. During an Advent service with Christians from around the world last evening, we prayed these words:

Guide by your wisdom those who have power and authority, that, by the decisions they make, life may be cherished and a good and fruitful Earth may continue to show your glory and sing your praises.

After yesterday’s first plenary session, Willard Metzger and I offered a similar prayer over the two chairs reserved for Canada’s official representatives. We prayed that those who sit in these chairs will be courageous. That they will be both blessing and blessed.

May we lift our voices in prayer from every part of God’s Earth. We who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts also groan within ourselves, as we wait for God to make us children, and set our whole being free. (Romans 8:23) May we be set free in the Spirit that gives courage.

I invite you to pray with me on Sunday, December 4, for the success of the climate talks in Durban. You can watch my video prayer on the United Church website or on YouTube.