• John Woods

Climate of Fear


I have been interested to follow the news coming from COP26.


A lot of the statements at the Global Climate Summit have been far from optimistic.


Boris Johnson spoke about it being, “One minute to midnight on the doomsday clock.”


The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “We’re digging our own grave.”


Like many observers I was keen to see some real action on the issues surrounding the climate. This is particularly the case when previous summits have been fairly accused by Greta Thunberg of offering little more than lots of “Blah, Blah, Blah!”


Even our Queen, in her video message to COP26, indicated that it would be disappointing to merely have endless talk that does not lead to decisive action.


It has been encouraging that Christian leaders and organisations have had a significant presence at the event. Preach Magazine did a live webinar from Glasgow on the topic of preaching on climate change. It was a stimulating hour well spent.


David Bookless of A Roche International, gave a sparkling little session on how preachers can approach the topic.


One of the most helpful observations he made was that it was best not to overdo the science in the sermon. People can always look this up for themselves on relevant websites. Christian preachers are wise to do the following things:

  • Focus on Jesus as the heart of the divine project to restore all things,

  • Help people to appropriately lament the damage and loss that has been done to the created order by generations of humans acting foolishly, and

  • Leave people with hope.

This can be done in a variety of ways:


We can tell the stories of hope from around the world where people are seeking to be agents of healing for our bruised planet.


We can stimulate people’s imaginations by suggesting possible small steps that everyone can take to engage in significant creation care.


We can root this hope in Jesus. As Dave Bookless reminds us, “Jesus’s resurrection is the surest hope of climate change … The resurrection body of Jesus is a sign of what can be done to reverse the ravages of death”.


Our hope must not be in COP26 for, whatever its potential achievements, it will leave many things undone and many people disappointed. COP26 may ultimately lead to a series of COP-outs. I am praying that delegates, especially from the peoples and nations most affected by climate change will have some cause for hope and optimism.


For this to happen the world’s powerful ones need to learn the importance of partnership with those who seem to have little power but whose tiny actions, repeated over a period of time, can trigger significant change.


Wealthy nations often assume they can spend their way out of a crisis. This is often a way that money can be wasted in unfocused aid. Sometimes it is the combination of many tiny contributions that add up to a significant asset for change.


“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21: 1–4)


Now that is what I call hope. Preach that and we might begin to escape the climate of fear.


Johannes Plenio on unsplash

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