Monday, 5 October 2009

Nenagh Day of Prayer for Climate Change

The joint day of prayer for climate change held in Nenagh on Saturday 3rd October, St Francis’ Eve, was a great success, I think. As people came and went over the four hours, an average of a dozen or so were present at any one time to pray together, to listen to music, readings and reflections, and to share time in silence. On arrival all were welcomed and given a sheet to introduce the day of prayer, with background information about climate change and ideas for how individuals may respond, echoed by posters on the walls.

The focus of the prayer room was a simple table with a green cloth, symbolising God’s creation, upon which were placed symbols of the faith we share: a plain wooden cross, a lighted candle, and a Bible on a stand.

Prayers were led by Dean Langley of the Nenagh Baptist Group, Rev Brian Griffin and James Armitage of the Methodist circuit, Rev Marie Rowley-Brooke and Joc Sanders of the Church of Ireland, and from the Catholic parish, Sr Patricia Greene and Sr Rita Corry with a host of laity of all ages. It was wonderful to experience and share in the variety of voices and styles of witness coming from our separate traditions, joined together in common purpose to pray for the future of God’s planet.

Christian Hope is a gift we bring to others
For many people the enormity of the climate change crisis is so great that they feel hopeless. Like rabbits caught in the headlights of a car, they feel unable to do anything about it - even unable to think about it. But we Christians are not like that – we root our lives in Christian hope. Christian hope is a great gift that we have to offer our brothers and sisters of other faiths and none, to inspire them to take action. In that light, these were our closing prayers and readings.

Words from a letter from Taizé written in 2003:

  • Christian hope does not mean living in the clouds, dreaming of a better life. It is not merely a projection of what we would like to be or do. It leads us to discover seeds of a new world already present today, because of the identity of our God, because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This hope is, in addition, a source of energy to live differently, not according to the values of a society based on the thirst for possession and competition.
  • In the Bible, the divine promise does not ask us to sit down and wait passively for it to come about, as if by magic. Before speaking to Abraham about the fullness of life offered to him, God says, "Leave your country and your home for the land I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). To enter into God’s promise, Abraham is called to make of his life a pilgrimage, to undergo a new beginning.
  • Similarly, the good news of the resurrection is not a way of taking our minds off the tasks of life here and now, but a call to set out on the road. "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? … Go into the entire world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation… You will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:11; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8).
  • Impelled by the Spirit of Christ, believers live in deep solidarity with humanity cut off from its roots in God. Writing to the Christians of Rome, Saint Paul speaks of the longing of creation and compares this suffering to the pangs of childbirth. Then he continues, "We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly" (Romans 8:18-23). Our faith is not a privilege that takes us out of the world; we "groan" with the world, sharing its pain, but we live this situation in hope, knowing that, in Christ, "the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining" (1 John 2:8).
  • Hoping, then, means first of all discovering in the depths of the present a Life that leads forward and that nothing is able to stop. It also means welcoming this Life by a yes spoken by our whole being. As we embark on this Life, we are led to create signs of a different future here and now, in the midst of the difficulties of the world, seeds of renewal that will bear fruit when the time comes.
A prayer from Put People First
Lord, you make all things new- you are the God of the exiled - in times of darkness, uncertainty and fear we can only cling to you. Though we may walk through the valley of shadows, we will fear no evil for you are with us.

Lord, you are the God of the resurrection. In you lies our hope for transformation. You have shown us a glimpse of the mountain top, and we will keep walking that path with you. Give us the vision to see how things can be, and help us work together to achieve this.

Clothe our leaders with humility and grace to put actions before words, and bring greater justice and sustainability in this world.

A reading from Isaiah 55:6-13
"Turn to the LORD and pray to him, now that he is near. Let the wicked leave their way of life and change their way of thinking. Let them turn to the LORD, our God; he is merciful
and quick to forgive. "My thoughts," says the LORD, "are not like yours, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and
thoughts above yours.

"My word is like the snow and the rain that come down from the sky to water the earth. They make the crops grow and provide seed for planting and food to eat. So also will be the word that I speak — it will not fail to do what I plan for it; it will do everything I send it to do.

"You will leave Babylon with joy; you will be led out of the city in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into singing, and the trees will shout for joy. Cypress trees will grow where now there are briars; myrtle trees will come up in place of thorns. This will be a sign that will last forever, a reminder of what I, the LORD, have done."

Alastair McIntosh, Professor of Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde, and a Quaker, has this to say about climate change:
"Technical fixes are certainly part of the solution. But I’d put it to you that the deep work must be this:
to learn to live more abundantly with less, to rekindle community, and to serve fundamental human need instead of worshiping at the altars of greed.
The crisis of these times is therefore spiritual. It calls for reconnecting our inner lives with the outer world - an expansion of consciousness.”

A prayer of St Teresa of Avila
Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours, no feet but yours;
yours are the eyes through which to look with Christ’s compassion on the world,
yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good,
and yours are his hands with which to bless us now.

A prayer from the Community of Longchamp
Come light, light of God, give light to creation, enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.
We beseech you, bless every effort and every search,
Every struggle and every pain that seek to restore the harmony and beauty of your Creation.
Renew the face of the earth, so that every human being may live in peace and justice, fruits of your Spirit of love.
Blow your Spirit of life on your creation and all humanity.
Come light, light of God, give light to creation, enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.
We beseech you, Lord, bless the fruits of the earth and the work of our hands and teach us to share the abundance of your goods.
Send rain to the dry soil, sun and fair weather where harvest is endangered by storms.
Blow your Spirit of life on your creation and all humanity.
Come light, light of God, give light to creation, enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

We finished by saying together this Franciscan prayer
May God bless us with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and indifferent relationships,
So that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger

At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that we may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless us with tears

For those who face pain, hunger and war,
So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and to change their pain into joy.

May God bless us with enough foolishness

To believe that we can make a difference in the world,
So that we can do what others claim cannot be done.


Daniel & Sonja said...

It's great that you had such a diverse group of Christians come together for this. When we come together in unity powerful things happen...

Joc Sanders said...

Yes indeed, Daniel; and it is fun learning how to work together and trust each other - I feel the Spirit moving...