Prayers for Planet Earth and COP26 - Week Three
The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31st October – 12th November 2021. Leading up to that event Deacon Cedric May is writing a series of prayers, one for each day of the month throughout October. The theme is "Prayers for the Planet and COP26".
Here are the third week's prayers:
5th October was the second anniversary of our Environment Awareness Day at Wesley Memorial in Epworth. What a momentous day that was! It was slow in getting off the ground but in God’s time it came together and it began something here in the north of the county which is a light that the dark cannot extinguish. We were heartened to see so much commitment. (You can find a copy of a poem HERE that was shared at the Environment Awareness Day 2019 reminding us what we are at risk of losing.) The Woodland Trust, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, All We Can, The Well Bookshop, Fairtrade and A Rocha Eco Church were well represented and did good business. The refreshment room played a vital role in providing a comfortable setting for the excited interchange of views. An action song from Messy Church reminded us who was most at risk. Thank you, Loving Lord, for inspiring us to work together for a cleaner, safer, happier world for the benefit of Planet Earth and the good of all humanity.
Father of all,
The 240-word Epworth Declaration (A copy of which can be found HERE) intended to sum up our concerns and announce our intentions. Bruce Thompson, Chair of our District, once he was happy there were no problems with copyright, circulated it. The Methodist Recorder printed my account of our Environment Awareness Day in Epworth but ignored the Epworth Declaration. It is overtly political but it had to be because it is the governments which must deliver the promises they make and must hit the ambitious targets they set. Wheels grind so slowly and Covid 19 has been such a distraction. We pin our hopes and prayers on the November meeting of COP26 in Glasgow and the gathering momentum it will engender to make the difference which has to be made. Some of the decade to save Planet Earth has already slipped by.
Father of all,
Forgive me. My prayers are too didactic. Sometimes too polemical. But there’s so much to understand, to absorb and achieve. Thank you that you put the fire of your love into the dry facts of environmental catastrophe. Make us passionate to fire up our apathy. Rekindle our love for this beautiful planet, our only home. Fill us with contrition for our part in a culture which is destroying it and doing far too little to save it. Thank you for prayer, didactic yes, polemical yes, but throbbing with the heartbeat of sacrificial love. In Jesus we pray.
Father of all,
The other Sunday, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Coltrell, said that somewhere between 1611 and the present day, the words of the Lord’s Prayer ‘Thy kingdom come in Earth’ have become ‘Thy kingdom come on Earth.’ It surprised me to hear that he preferred the first version. The words ‘on earth’ suggest that we have a distant rather detached relationship to the Earth which allows us to own it and exploit it for our own ends. This arrogance is behind our greedy, destructive lifestyle which is dangerously over-heating our planet. But we are ‘in earth’; this is where we belong. God made us from precious dirt and breathed life into us.
Rev. Val Ogden told us once of the mindset of the Pacific Islanders she lived amongst for several years. For them, they were the land, they were the wind and the waves, they were the trees that gave them fruit and kindling. As Pope Francis says, the Earth is our hurting mother. We share part of our DNA with every living creature, we will return to this earth which we must love and cherish. Thy Kingdom come in earth and in us, we pray.
Loving Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your servants, Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby and Patriarch Bartholomew and for their joint statement: ‘A Joint Message for the Protection of Creation.’ This is new and timely and must be heard. Climate Change is ‘an immediate and urgent matter of survival,’ they say. They call on people to make ‘meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.’ They share a burning concern for ‘the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty, and the importance of global co-operation.’ Like Christian Aid, they call for climate justice, help for those who cause least damage to the planet and suffer most the effects of global warming. 'This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.’ Help us, loving Lord, to ponder what it means to make sacrificial life changes and then to resolve to make a difference every day.
You so loved the cosmos that you gave your son. Your precious universe is fine-tuned to support life and make it thrive. Everything is related in the world you made. The extinction of one species cannot be a matter of indifference to us. The dying of the bees crucially affects our future. 40% of the food we eat depends on pollination. The warming of the polar regions, faster than in any other part of the globe, the break-up of the ice-cap and the sea ice affects the survival of the polar bears and other mammals in the Arctic and the penguins in the Antarctic and their predators. The rising of the sea levels has already changed irrevocably the climate, the culture and the food security of the Pacific Islanders. The melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas will affect the fresh water supply of huge populations on the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Global warming must be slowed if it can’t be stopped. It’s a matter of survival for hosts of God’s creatures. We must disinvest in fossil fuels, leave them in the ground and rapidly expand our dependence on renewables.
Don’t let us be complacent. An article in the Church Times recently said that in the lives of the privileged people there was a ‘cognitive disconnect’ between their beliefs and their behaviour. Whatever form of privilege it was – wealth, education, position, life in a liberal society or social class – it made it easy not to practice what we preach. As with Paul’s hearers in Athens, some were converted but many went away promising to listen to him again sometime.
In his essay on climate, Laudato Si, Pope Francis called for an eco-conversion. We must live lives that favour a healthy planet. The hope I gleaned from my prayers in May, the hope we find in our garden at Glenwood, the hope I look for in the ‘rewilding’ of Lincolnshire, is the conviction that comes from seeing that the planet will regenerate if we allow it to and if the conditions are favourable. In Christ’s name.