God, of whose creative force it is said: “Before the world was created, the Holy One kept creating worlds and destroying them. Finally He created this one, and was satisfied. He said to Adam: ‘This is the last world I shall make. I place it in your hands: hold it in trust.’ “ [Gates of Prayer, Special Themes 6], hear our prayers for the world.
God, from whose abiding ideal of a planet, even a universe, living in purposeful peace inspired the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium (Istanbul, August 15-17, 2015) to remind us that, “Our planet has existed for billions of years and climate change in itself is not new. The earth’s climate has gone through phases wet and dry, cold and warm, in response to many natural factors. Most of these changes have been gradual, so that the forms and communities of life have adjusted accordingly. . . . Climate change in the past was also instrumental in laying down immense stores of fossil fuels from which we derive benefits today. Ironically, our unwise and short-sighted use of these resources is now resulting in the destruction of the very conditions that have made our life on earth possible.”
Having already exhorted Catholics to care for “our common home,” Pope Francis has announced, “I wish to inform you that I have decided to institute in the Catholic Church the ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’ which, beginning this year, is to be celebrated on 1 September.” In a letter released by the Vatican, he recalls Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, who have been praying for the environment since the 1980s.
The Dalai Lama has used Twitter to add, in defiance of capitalism’s vaunted fruits of competition, “Since climate change and the global economy now affect us all, we have to develop a sense of the oneness of humanity.”
May we join these and other religious leaders in praying for the integrity of creation, including its climate. Where we can, may we adopt lifestyle changes that reduce the carbon footprints that lead down a dangerous path. Where we need to support intellectual, political, economic, and social efforts to learn more and to do better, we pray for a greater willingness to sacrifice narrow personal ends for the good of the larger community.
We pray for an open attitude toward change, and ability to recognize that it is almost always necessary first to see the promise in a small development. At the American Chemical Society meeting this week, a report described a method of producing carbon nano fibers used in high-end electronics by pulling carbon dioxide from the air. The process is sufficiently inexpensive, it is claimed, that it may provide a new, more economical source of the fibers while reducing excess CO2. Hear our prayers for the importance of such investigations. Hear our prayers for all the many efforts that will be required to put this and other efforts to mend creation into full effect.
And while we pray for the deep current of changes both good and bad throughout our world, we also pray for the ongoing change nearer at hand: for beneficial increase in the relationship between Cuba and the United States and for nuclear peace, especially as the diplomatic effort to secure an Iran that is nuclear weapon free continues.
In every sphere, we need leadership of high quality. We give thanks for the life and work of Julian Bond in the United States. May we continue his efforts on behalf of those standing on the low half of the not-yet-level playing field. As we honor the many accomplishments of Jimmy Carter and as we grieve his cancer diagnosis, may we be strengthened in our own determination to accomplish what we can where we can.
The gift of life is a great joy, and for it we give thanks. There is much to be done, and with your help and guidance, let us be at work. Amen