Following the latest United Nations’ (UN) review of global emissions and climate action, the Revd David Coleman, Environmental Chaplain for Eco-Congregation Scotland, calls on congregations to do more this Advent.
The report, published on 27 November, says countries must triple their efforts to tackle climate change and that urgent measures are needed to keep global temperature rises under 2°C this century (as per the 2015 Paris Agreement).
This Christmas, Mr Coleman says, everyone can make a commitment to help in their own way.
‘There’s an immensely rich body of spirituality in Advent about the “turning of the tide” and moving from one era to another,’ he says. ‘We now find ourselves with an environmental crisis in full swing and the end, in sight, of many aspects of our way of life that we have taken for granted.
‘The very earliest Christian hymns and prayers for Advent urge us to “wake up”. So many species have been lost or are dying because of climate change; so much damage has already been done.
‘The shocking lectionary Gospel reading for the first Sunday in Advent, Luke 21:25-36, is as remote from tinsel and Christmas trees as it can possibly be.
‘It speaks of heady stuff, of “signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and … distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves”.
‘Yet, Advent is a time of longing for the light of Christ at the end of a tunnel of hopelessness. It trains us in resisting despair, even though our eyes are open to threat.
‘As an eco-chaplain, I encounter people who are not yet convinced by climate scientists, or the plight of our friends in Pacific churches.
‘The words of Jesus in Luke 21 encourage swift responsiveness to danger, rather than a ‘wait and see’ attitude.
‘Climate change and environmental disasters are the signs of our times that passages like Matthew 16:3 speak about. We are called to read such passages and to shape our lives for the glory of God.’
‘Apocalyptic passages in the Bible are poetic, and poetry may be the most accurate and effective way of expressing such messages. We need the peace of mind to take things not literally, but seriously.
‘Climate change is real, and I pray we all play our part to help our countries met their targets.’
For more information on how to your church can become more eco-friendly, visit Eco Church, an A Rocha UK award scheme for churches which want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth.