Preaching and practice in stormy times

by Olav Fykse Tveit last modified 04 December 2015 09:51 AM
Preaching and practice in stormy times

UNFCCC head Christiana Figureres thanks religious leaders for bringing a moral voice to COP21. © Sean Hawkey/WCC

03 December 2015


COP 21.


We have always discussed it, several times a day. What could we expect this day, the next day? At least in my country, Norway, where the weather may change several times per day, it is always a theme for a small-talk. Until some years ago we could not imagine that we had to discuss rain storms and drought, ice and heat because we could make a difference. Or that human behaviour already had made a difference.

Neither could we imagine that we – ourselves – should make weather, or rather its "big brother" the climate, an issue of injustice. Even Jesus looked at the elements to speak about justice: rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Here we are, 30'000 people (!) in Paris, and many others around the world, to discuss our influence on the climate because we acknowledge we can and we have to do something to change it. For the sake of justice. For the sake of life. Nothing less.

In addition: 10'000 officers are here to help.

All these people must give the world a new framework in the next few days for stopping the changes in weather patterns.

Some are very political. Some are skilled in negotiations. Some are speaking very scientifically. Some are even prophetical, announcing what might happen. Some are very practical, saying what they already do to produce renewable energy or providing less energy consuming transport or production.

Some are very, very practical, discussing how everybody can have access to reliable weather forecasts - so that they can discern when to plant and when to harvest. Some are here to be a prophetic and moral voice. About responsibility, about justice. And about hope. I probably belong to the last category.

There are some, but not many, who say they wonder why we are here as people representing communities of faith. Are the issues discussed in Paris big enough for bringing God into the equation?

There seems to be some consensus already:

This is a problem so great it that requires that all are working together. Politicians, business, finance, science, education, communication, civil society, religions, local communities, individuals.

There is no denial of discussion about the realities: climate changes are here and more will come, due to emissions from human activity.

We can already do a lot for the shift – the green shift – that is needed. We are not well-minded activists only, but representatives of governments, companies, universities and more to be seen in the booths here.

Finally: a consensus is growing that we are short of time. It is too late for stopping climate change, but we can still prevent the worst. We have to change now.

Heads of states speak like preachers here in Paris. There seems to be willingness to use big words.

But are they believers, following their own words in practice, and establishing climate justice? Are they willing to bring together the real new beginning we all need?

When I see the commitment and energy of these 30'000, I am quite hopeful. So many changes in the right direction are already happening. So many things already done. Like providing data for the weather forecast to the 70 countries where people still do not have access to a weather forecast.

Still, I have to see this also with eyes of faith, seeing what we don't see yet. We can make it.

We pray. To be changed ourselves:

God of life, lead us to justice and peace – in the common care for our one creation!


The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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