Thursday, November 19, 2015

Paris Climate Change Conference 2015

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 will be held in Paris, from November 30 to December 11. The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. 

Below are some reflections by Rev Dr Jason John (Deacon, Uniting Church in Australia), a 1989 resolution from the Synod of South Australia on the environment, and a prayer by the Uniting Church in Australia for the upcoming Climate Change Conference. 

I wonder what is happening in your church, denomination, association, and networks in relation to climate change, and responses to the Paris Climate Change Conference? It would be great to share together some of the work of diaconal ministry agents in regards to this important issue. 

Deacons are to work with the "marginalised, oppressed, suffering, the forgotten, the unlovely."  Deacons, "hold before the church the model of service among those who suffer, and call the members to engage in such service." Deacons are called to be, "along with the scattered members of the congregation, a sign of the presence of God in the everyday world."  Deacons are to release those gifts in church members "that will enable them to share in this ministry of caring, serving, healing, restoring, making peace and advocating justice as they go about their daily lives."(Statement from the renewal of the diaconate in the Uniting Church in Australia, 1985). 
That such people exist, and that there is hope for change, was the basis of the renewal of the diaconate.  It is not only people, however, who fall into those categories.  Nobody who reads a paper, or watches documentaries, could fail to acknowledge that the environment itself has been pushed to the margins of society's consciousness until recent decades.  Defenceless individuals and communities in the animal and plant kingdoms continue to be oppressed, and to suffer.  
Many environmentalists take for granted that the exploitation of the earth is significantly if not entirely due to the so called Judeo-Christian ethic of the West.  This is, however, a very simplistic understanding, and several recent works attest to the strong thread of environmental responsibility, and love for the environment, in both the Scriptures and Christian tradition.They argue that the creation stories present humanity as intimately connected to creation, being made from earth, and charged to be good stewards, rather than exploiters of creation.  The creation is very good, it was created by Christ himself, and nothing in it is unclean. John testified against the gnostics that created matter was good.  Francis of Assisi and many of the mystics give ample testimony to their special reverence for the whole of creation.  An increasing number of Christians believe that their treatment of the environment is a reflection on their relationship with God. (Rev Dr (Deacon) Jason John)

1989 Synod resolution (Synod of South Australia, Uniting Church in Australia)
8.1 recognising that the critical state of the world's environment demands a serious and urgent response from the Christian community,
     a. draw the attention of the whole church to the church's participation in destroying the environment and the need for us to affirm in word and life:
          i. the sacredness of all creation and God's passionate concern for its care and well being;
          ii. the redemptive work of Jesus Christ which is for all the created order;
          iii. God's call for us to participate with Him in healing the earth and proclaiming the recreation and reconciliation of all life through Jesus Christ;
          iv. the consequent need for a re-orientation of our theology and its practice, in ways which express our respect for creation and all people and which do not plac development and our respect for creation in conflict.

For the Sake of the Planet
Creator God,
breath and source of life,
in love you called the world into being
and in grace you made us and call us your children.
We stand in awe of the wonder of your creation:
           its beauty and wildness;
           complexity and power;
           resilience and fragility.
God of life,
you call us to be participants in the web and wellspring of life:
          to be nurtured by the planet;
          to be nurturing of the planet;
          to cherish the world and all that lives.
But we have failed and creation groans under our weight.
God of grace,
forgive us in our brokenness:
           when we have taken too much from the earth;
           when we have not spoken out against greed and destruction;
           when we have allowed our most vulnerable neighbours to be harmed.
We seek courage and forgiveness to be made whole.
God of love,
we pray for those people, communities and nations
already suffering the devastating effects of climate change;
and we pray for the diversity of life on earth,
so much of it already threatened by our actions.
God of hope,
we pray for the world’s leaders gathering in Paris.
Bless them with wisdom and creativity,
and a shared vision of hope for all creation.
May they find the determination
to take strong action against climate change,
and the political will to act together for the common good.
Creator God,
we pray for us all,
that we might restore our relationships with each other
and work together to heal the earth.
Renew us in your grace
for the sake of your creation. Amen.
© 2015 Uniting Church in Australia Assembly

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