A Time to Wait and a Time to Act: COP24 and the Season of Advent

My children will both go back to school today after three and a half days off for snow-related cancellations and delays. During this time, there was sled run building, movie watching, hot chocolate drinking, fort creating, reading, knitting and anticipation. You see, Christmas is just around the corner, and for practicing Christians, this is the season of Advent. It is a time of worship, practice, and intentionally slowing down as we anticipate the coming of God revealed in Jesus. It is when we look forward to the coming Light even while naming the brokenness and darkness in the world.

It is a time of waiting.  

The church hymn ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ reveals this season well.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

and ransom captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appear.

And this year, Advent coincides with the UN Climate talks in Katowice, Poland – also known as COP24 – where close to 200 nations are trying to map out a path to implement the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.  

Negotiations include the rulebook for the Paris Accords, which go into effect in 2020, and whether or not to accept the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report produced by 91 authors from 40 countries that reveals how the world is already being impacted by our changing climate.  

Right now our country’s leadership is practicing the arts of delay and distraction by choosing to pull out of the collaborative efforts outlined in Paris and just this week joining Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait in blocking the IPCC report from being adopted by the conference. The US and friends have chosen a path of isolated denial.    

It is a path that many people of faith in the US cannot and will not follow.

Like the early followers of Jesus, people of all kinds of faith are choosing to look courageously at the current and future suffering of the world and are acting in the face of these realities on behalf of love.   

There are many faith traditions represented in Poland this week, including indigenous faiths, Episcopalians, Franciscans, and Interfaith Power and Light members. The young and old alike are praying, singing, protesting, and strategizing for a new future. These dear ones join thousands that are not willing to wait.

They see the light emerging now and the urgency of climate action growing.  

But most of us are not in Poland and will never be at a UN negotiation. We are here in rural churches and urban mosques. In Texas sanctuaries and Appalachian Synagogues. We are here in the temples and forests and schools and workplaces.  

It is here, in our places of faith, that we thrive – believing in the possibility of an unseen future. Yes, we must wait for Christmas, but we cannot wait to care for the earth. Our common future depends on it.  

Perhaps this season is not only about God breaking into the world with Light but also God waiting for us to breakforth with light.  

As the second verse of ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ reads:

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,

who orderest all things mightily;

to us the path of knowledge show,

and teach us in her ways to go.

May the Wisdom of God mightily and swiftly empower our bodies and congregations to do right for our climate, creatures, and human neighbors.  

To find out some first steps to faithful care for creation with Green Chalice visit greenchalice.org. For resources on talking to your friends and neighbors about creation care, and engaging your congregation, visit Blessed Tomorrow.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a proud partner of Blessed Tomorrow, a coalition of faith leaders committed to serve as faithful stewards of creation. Founded by ecoAmerica, Blessed Tomorrow offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering faith leaders to speak about, act on and advocate for climate solutions. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you here.

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