COP26 reflection from Andrew Norman
Pray not to lose hope
As Christians we shall be praying for all those attending the COP26 sessions. Many Churches will hold a vigil. But “prayer” goes beyond its religious expression. All those making their way to Glasgow will have their deepest thoughts in their hearts. The world holds its breath. This is prayer. Attitudes deepened, agreements reached and policies formed, will shape what daily life is going to be like for succeeding generations. We trust that hope will be taken sincerely into all the debates. Prayer is the sense that hope is a resource we can truly access. It is a mode of activity and of human being that is named by, but not restricted to, those of us who are religious. May all who gather for COP26 pray – in the sense of listening well and reaching deep within – before they speak.
To pray is to acknowledge the greater reality beyond ourselves and in which we can trust and let ourselves be dependent. In the Judeo-Christian scriptures the Wisdom of Solomon evokes the beauty of God in all that lives: “You love all things that exist … for how would anything have endured had you not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?” Wisdom of Solomon 11:24, 25.
The psalms sing of our place as humans within the whole living cosmos that is all upheld by God in love. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” Psalm 8:5.
The trouble is that we want to be independent and in total control of the planet for our own purposes in, for example, extractive industries and endlessly expanding economies. The Book of Job confronts us all in our hubris as God asks: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” Job 38:4. “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” Job 38:12. So finally Job answers God: “I know that you can do all things … I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know” Job 42:1, 3.
It will take a miracle to save the planet from the worst excesses of climate change by reaching the target of only a 1.5oC temperature increase and of net zero emissions by 2030. Yet prayer, when we acknowledge the mystery of God who lovingly holds all things in being, works miracles. We may wonder about miracles in the conventional religious sense. But how else can we see the amazing interconnectedness of the whole biosphere? Could COP26 be the occasion for a prayerful participation in that widest, most universal of human ways, a deep response of heart, mind and spirit in awe and so to allow for the miraculous? May that be our prayer!
Andrew Norman, co-chaplain in Green Christian, Quaker and Anglican priest, counselling therapist in the private & voluntary sectors.
One of the most effective things we can do about COP26 is to encourage our government to demonstrate genuine climate leadership in its own laws and policies. And one of the best ways to do that is to support the CEE Bill:
Have a look at all the actions we can take around COP26:
And for more inspiration…
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