A pack of politicians is meeting this week and next in Lima, Peru to attempt to lay the groundwork for an international climate treaty to be signed next year. If anyone has the power to turn our planetary ship away from certain destruction, it may well be these folks. We need to pray that God will give them the wisdom, courage, and vision they need to meet the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.
That’s why I’m inviting you to light a candle and say a prayer for the talks in Lima during your worship service this Sunday. In doing so, you’ll join people around the world who are participating in Light for Lima prayer vigils for this historic meeting. You can join the online vigil by taking a picture of your candle, tagging it #LightforLima and #FossilFreeUMC, and posting it on Facebook and Twitter. By sharing online, you’ll let our world leaders know that you’re praying for them and supporting their prophetic voices. They need us. All of us.
Does this feel like an odd issue to lift up during Advent? It’s not. The second week of Advent is the week we’re called to prepare the way of the Lord. The Lord, of course, is God incarnate in the physical, created world. This Lord ate food and drank water and breathed air. God’s body needed–and still needs–a sustainable planet.
The difference between a deal and no deal in Lima is the difference between an increasingly unpleasant world, and an increasingly uninhabitable one.
We know that the matter of this world matters deeply to God, so much so that God put us on the earth as stewards, charged with caring for the earth and helping it flourish. Unfortunately, we’re doing a terrible job. Indeed, our greenhouse gas emissions are so out-of-control that we may not be able to stop warming that leads to large-scale, global transformations like massive loss of ice sheets, sea level rise, more extreme weather events, and lower crop yields. But the difference between a deal and no deal in Lima is the difference between an increasingly unpleasant world, and an increasingly uninhabitable one.
If Advent is about preparing for the coming of Christ, shouldn’t we be making ready for the God’s indwelling by figuring out how we’re going to tidy the house for our sacred guest? Is this world–a world marked by waters slicked with oil and forests destroyed by tar sand extraction and mountaintops blown off for coal mining–the world to which we want to welcome the baby Jesus? Of course not. So when we light our Advent candles this Sunday, let’s make them matter. Let’s light them for Lima, and pray that their light breaks through the darkness.