Yearning, praying, for a world restored in Christ
October 7 2019I’m often asked to lend my support to a range of causes by individuals or organisations. It is clear to me that a lot of advocacy takes place and that this is often directed to our elected members of government, whether local, state or national. Ministers’ offices quickly turn around an email acknowledgement of correspondence with an efficiency that suggests to me the letters I send are a tiny drop in the ocean of correspondence that they receive. There is clearly value in such representations and advocacy, like the banner on St Paul’s Cathedral inviting others to join us in making refugees fully welcome. But is there more to this, more to expressing our yearning for a world restored in Christ?
Later in the year the climate change conference that meets in Santiago, Chile will feature the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP 25 will be a very important international forum for the issue of climate change to be addressed. Australia is a signatory to the UNFCCC and as part of our obligations makes regular reports against emissions reduction targets. The proceedings of this important conference will be widely reported.
In the midst of this event, Bishop Philip Huggins will be a key leader in an opportunity for quietness and spiritual reflection for COP 25 participants on Sunday 8 December. Their invitation says: “We appreciate your hard work and want to offer to you this relevant and transformative space, in love and gratitude. It is a day to share with new and old friends.” Along with others, including Canon John Kafwanka from the Anglican Communion Office, Bishop Philip will be part of creating an opportunity for participants to be “recharged amidst beauty … friendly dialogue … personal reflection”.
In a world of many words, contested positions and sometimes irreconcilable difference, I think this offering is a fresh approach that is worthy of our support and solidarity. After all, in the middle of many demanding times in Jesus’ public ministry he often, either alone or with his disciples, went away to “deserted places” to pray (Luke 5:16). It is a discipline that is uncommon in our world but part of the common tradition of Christianity through the millennia. It is also something that is understood in other world religious traditions.
I mention this date, Sunday 8 December, so that you can plan to join in solidarity with Bishop Philip and his colleagues as they gather with the COP 25 participants in Santiago. I know that many are concerned for the nations of the world to reach a consensus about action which will limit global temperature rise through reducing carbon emissions. The mutuality of prayer is one of the great gifts that we have in the body of Christ. It is something that is distinctive to us as people of faith and I commend this time for your attention. More resources will be available closer to the event but schedule some time, with your church community or on your own, to pray.
See Bishop Philip Huggins’ prayer below.
A prayer for care of God’s creation
We give thanks afresh that you have entrusted us with the care of all your creation: Every living creature, the earth itself!
We give thanks, as ever, for your gift of our life on our beautiful planet in our galaxy, within a universe filled with billions of other galaxies, all of your creating.
With renewed wonder and awe, we recognise your cosmic perspective in our common life as one human family, with stardust in our bones.
We pray thus in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus, the One in whom “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), that we may have your discernment for our work to prevent global temperatures from rising.
Remembering Jesus’ word to us, that “whatever we do for one of the most vulnerable, we do for you” (Matthew 25: 33-40), we pray now for those already affected by climate change, like those in neighbouring Pacific Island nations and in places of more frequent and extreme climatic events.
We pray thus for the grace to hear and heed the new, young prophetic voices who say “act as if your house is on fire … because it is!”
We pray thus for all involved in upcoming United Nations climate negotiations, including soon in Chile.
We pray for the leaders of our nation as they try to make wise policy amidst many competing voices.
We pray too for strengthened resolve to make our own best contributions in daily life as stewards of all you give us.
All this and much that is in our hearts, we gather and pray, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
by Bishop Philip Huggins, president of the National Council of Churches in Australia and a former assistant bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne.