Text: Bishop Nicholas Holtham at Climate Change Lobby service


Bishop Nicholas Holtham

Bishop Nicholas Holtham

Bishop Nicholas Holtam preached at a service in St Margaret's, Westminster and The Emmanuel Centre, Westminster on Wednesday, 17 June 2015, during the Climate Change Lobby of Parliament: Speak up for the love of... The full text of his homily follows:

Texts: Colossians 1.15-20; Luke 4.16-21.

What a fantastic turnout.

Thank you for making the effort to be here, but of course you would because you care, "for the love of..."

There are two services because so many Christians want to join the lobby about Climate Change and 'speak up for the love of..' We are celebrating God's creation and saying that we care for it, and we are expressing our concern that the human race is not looking after it properly. This is not just our individual concern. It is our Christian concern together as the Church. It is the concern of people of all faiths. It is our human concern in solidarity with all people. The world is our home.

The Pope has written the world letter which will be published tomorrow. Despite the leaks, we won't know exactly what it says until tomorrow but yesterday I heard someone criticise him because he will say that climate change is being caused by human activity, that God has made us a beautiful home and we aren't looking after it properly.

Here are the main lines of the story:

God made the whole creation and it is very good. We human beings are creatures, made in the image of God with a responsibility to steward and care for creation. We have made fantastic progress. We do a brilliant job - intellectually, economically, socially, culturally and spiritually. "The glory of God is a person fully alive."

And we also get things fundamentally wrong, especially when we get above ourselves and behave as though we are the centre of everything. The scientific consensus that is the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is 95% certain that human activity is the main cause of current global warming - that goes up to 97% of scientists actively publishing about climate. If you weren't feeling well and the doctor said I'm not exactly sure but I'm 95/97% certain we'd take the treatment. Of course the Pope is right to say that climate change is being caused by human activity. In the last 150 years we have burned fossil fuels that took 1 billion years to lay down in the earth. The earth cannot sustain this level of consumption. Climate Change is disproportionately affecting the poorest in the world. - because they are most vulnerable to increased storms, rising sea level, changing patterns of rainfall, floods and drought. But we live interconnected lives. What is bad for our neighbours is bad for us. The world's economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.

When we know we have got things wrong - it's called 'sin' - we need to repent, to turn round and face God. It's an uncomfortable moment of judgement, in which we know we have been found out. We find it difficult for us to change but 'if we go on doing what we've always done, we'll go on getting what we've always got'. That is the way of death: so, choose life.

Being found out is also a hopeful moment. We know we need to change. In this case we need to make the transition to a low carbon economy. The science, economics and politics all point in the same direction and we need the spirit to do it. We need to do things differently and seek to live in the ways of God. That is about having a vision for God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Through it we find our proper place again in relation to God, one another and the whole of creation.

This is really an ancient story being told in the present day. It is the wisdom of God in Christ for all the earth. It is wisdom for all people in creation, "for the love of..."

So there is hope.

People of faith are beginning to work together.

Today we have launched the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and representative leaders of this country's world faith communities recognising the urgent need for action on climate change. I hope you will all join them and sign up online. We have a responsibility to live creatively and sustainably in a world of finite resources; to act now, for ourselves, our neighbours and for future generations.

The letter the Pope will officially publish tomorrow, Laudato Si, Be Praised, is on the care of our common home. It is addressed not only to Catholics but to every person who lives on this planet.

The science, economics and politics all point in the same direction. We need a new way of living, using the creativity of our intelligence and God's spirit.

All around the world people are recognising the problem. The journey through Paris and the UN Climate Change summit at the end of the year must further our commitment towards fair, ambitious, accountable and binding climate change agreements, nationally and internationally.

A few weeks ago I went with Christian Aid to Malawi, to see the impact of climate change on development. The last part of our visit was to the poorest people we met. They had planted trees to address the problems of deforestation and soil erosion. The poorest people we met, planting trees that will give them no reward, no fruit, for years because they are the best type for preventing erosion. The poor are often our teachers because they are less well protected, most vulnerable, forced to be realistic about what is happening to them in our world. These poor people were making the investment that is needed to turn things round, to turn our community round and care for our earthly home.

We will need our Government and others to make a commitment to climate finance not only in this important year of the Paris summit, and on to 2020 to assist less economically developed countries with the transition to a low carbon economy .

If we stand with the poorest there is hope we can address the issues of Climate Change when we speak up "for the love of..." this world God made and loves.

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