Monday, December 14, 2009

Do Not Be Afraid

Yesterday was a big day.

We began with Mass at St. Alban´s Church celebrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He preached a brief, pointed homily about the prophets and our need to look at the world differently. We need to begin seeing the world as God’s. We are called to consider the whole of creation as we ”prepare the way of the Lord.” Even in the face of the great challenges facing us we are called to be people of joy. (If he didn’t say those things in exactly that way, those were the messages I got! Preaching, I’ve discovered, is more about what one hears than what is said).

Then we bundled ourselves off to a local restaurant for pickled herring and berry flavored yoghurt drink (among many other Danish delicacies).

It was a ”pinch me hard, am I really eating lunch with the Archbishop of Canterbury” moment.

And then to the Cathedral in the center of town. At two o’clock the Queen of Denmark marched in, followed in due course by a tremendous procession of world representatives. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu came in, still glowing I imagine, from his tremendous outdoor appearance where he was greeted as a superstar. (His message was direct: ’Hello rich countries—wake up! It’s cheap to finance climate debt. 150 billion dollars a year would do it,’ he cried. Amen!! I say). But it wasn’t a triumphal procession. Thirty choristers came in bearing the central symbols of COP15: withered corn from Malawi, symbolizing crop failures in Africa and through out the world: untold misery and death; large dead corals reminding us of the destruction of the South Pacific islands and threats to global marine life; and ten people from Greenland, each bearing a stone exposed by melting glaciers: proof of global warming, disappearing water sources, spoiled habitats and suffering for many species and peoples. These corn cobs, dead corals and black stones were heaped up at the ramparts to the choir. We must never forget what is happening. We were gathered to dedicate ourselves as people of faith to doing all that we can to help the earth and to remind the world that the people most directly affected by climate change are the world’s poorest. The Archbishop of Canterbury again preached, this time calling the world to resist fear, yet to respond with loving alacrity to plea of the earth and all that live upon it.

The four of us Franciscans helped light candles. Everybody in the cathedral has a candle and they were lit and we carried them out into the world.

Signs of hope.

Welcome to Hopenhagen we said.

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