We Are Not Alone, We Live in God's World
- Thanks be to God
Presentation by Dr. David G. Hallman, Co-ordinator,
World Council of Churches Climate Change Programme
The Rainbow Pilgrimage on Climate Change
October 9, 2004
We are not alone, we live in Gods world.
Thanks be to God.
Thanks indeed that God is with us. We would be lost without the presence of God's Spirit.
We feel not only alone but pretty overwhelmed when confronted with the immensity of problems such as human induced-climate change.
The impacts of the warming of the atmosphere are affecting people all over the world – residents of low-lying Pacific Islands threatened by rising sea-levels; people in the Caribbean , Mexico and the southern U.S.A. devastated by major hurricanes; Europeans who suffered through the record-breaking heat waves in the summer of 2003; Africans alternating between wretched droughts and floods.
Many other members of the community of life besides us human beings are similarly hurt by the mounting impacts of human-induced climate change.
We can also feel pretty small when we consider the powerful forces that are propelling the economic, social and political systems forward towards ever-increasing production and consumption with their excessive energy use emitting the greenhouse gases that are leading to climate change.
The World Council of Churches and its member churches thus view human-induced climate change as having profound ethical implications – there is an international justice dimension in that it is being caused largely by the rich but it is the poor who will suffer disproportionately. There is an inter-generational justice dimension because it is being precipitated by the excessive energy consumption of this generation but it is future generations who will suffer the consequences the most.
But in this struggle where we can feel overwhelmed by the consequences and the forces causing climate change, we are assured that we are not alone. God is with us, with us in many ways.
We experience the presence of God's Spirit in the quiet centres of our souls. We feel it in the abundance and beauty of the natural world. We encounter the Spirit constantly through other peoples' care and dedication to making life better for their neighbours of both the human and non-human species. You who are involved in Operation Noah and this Rainbow Pilgrimage represent this manifestation of God's presence. The Spirit also surrounds us in the midst of our communal worship times together such as this moment.
God's assurance of the presence of the Spirit gives us the energy, courage and humility to pursue our commitment to addressing the problem of human-induced climate change. God's Spirit reassures us that our modest little efforts within our own homes and lifestyles to reduce our energy use do matter and do make a difference when complemented by similar efforts of many people around the world. One of my privileges as Coordinator of the World Council of Churches' Climate Change Programme is to work with people from every region of the world who share your dedication to making a change for the better. And like you, they are not only making such efforts in their own lifestyles but they are engaging with political and industrial leaders to pressure for change by those who have power over major societal and economic decisions.
We in the World Council of Churches build on these local, regional and national initiatives to make the presence of an ethical perspective on climate change felt within the international negotiations on climate change sponsored by the United Nations. This past week, I have been part of a church-sponsored international consultation hosted by the Dutch churches where we worked to develop an ethical framework for advocacy for international agreements after the completion of the period covered by the Kyoto Protocol.
We in the WCC are immensely grateful for your efforts and feel supported by your advocacy and by your prayers.
We can all go out from this holy place knowing that we are not alone. We have each other in this struggle. We have the support of networks of people of faith around the world. We have the presence of the Spirit of God.
Please join me and repeat after me each of the following lines of this benediction:
We are not alone.
WE ARE NOT ALONE.
We live in God's world.
WE LIVE IN GOD'S WORLD.
Thanks be to God.
THANKS BE TO GOD.
Below: Dr David Hallman - second from left - immediately after the service, with the ark and others from CEL.