Mary Minette, ELCA Director for Environmental Education and Advocacy

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

                                                                        –Romans 8:18-21

Late on December 14, the annual meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) finally concluded; two full days after it was scheduled to end. The parties adopted a final document that will guide the negotiation of a new global climate change agreement over the next year, with final results next December in Paris. As the negotiators, delegates from environmental organizations, churches, businesses and other interested groups headed home, the assessments of the outcome began in the media, blogs, social networks, and in conversations amongst colleagues.

Many of the delegates returned to communities preparing for Christmas. I returned from Lima to a family and church community celebrating Advent with a children’s pageant (my son was a sheep) that told the story of the coming of the son of God to a world where misery reigned and hope was in short supply.

The world we live in today often lacks hope, and this season gives us a chance to reflect on the God’s gift of light and hope to humanity, and creation through Jesus Christ. The four weeks of Advent allow us to find hope in the midst of difficulty and despair, to look for the coming of the light in our dark world.

As a church engaged in the global discussion about climate change, our task during Advent and beyond is to tell the stories of those who are suffering and to point to solutions that will provide our world with hope and a chance for a more sustainable future. Following the People’s Climate March in New York this past September, many hoped that our leaders would note the interest and commitment of millions of people around the globe and find the courage and the will to act decisively to address climate change.

The results of Lima are not the decisive actions marchers demanded in New York, but they do not preclude a good outcome in Paris if countries can come to agreement on some significant issues over the next year. How and when will developing countries reduce their emissions? Will they be given financial and technical assistance to do so? What will be done about climate change impacts that are already happening, and can’t be adapted to? How much will developed countries pledge to do over the next decade to help developing countries adopt clean energy technologies and move away from polluting fossil fuels?

All of these questions can be answered. We can have an agreement that moves us towards a sustainable future if we continue to let our leaders know that action is critical, and that we will support them as they negotiate a strong climate deal for Paris.

As we look to the New Year, let us pray for an effective agreement and encourage our global leaders to address the critical questions left unanswered in Lima in a way that truly fulfills our collective call to care for our neighbors and for all of God’s creation.