Let us contemplate and marvel at the diversity and wealth of creation (COP 21 reflection)

Contemplons et emergeillons-nous devant la diversite et la richesse de la creation

I arrived to Paris early Thursday morning, had a wonderful day orienting to the COP 21, and finished with the beautiful ecumenical worship service at Notre Dame from the Counseil d’Eglises Chretiennes en France (Christian Council of Churches of France). At that worship service, the opening prayer included this phrase “Let us contemplate and marvel at the diversity and wealth of creation,” and that indeed has been fitting for these few days and for this global gathering of such crucial importance.


Life is a gift, this world is a gift. And, I sit and write and marvel, at the diversity and wealth of God’s creation, human and non-human.


I give thanks for the gift of: 


World leaders negotiating on climate change, balancing their own country’s desire for both economic and ecological development with the well-being of the overall world and in conjunction with other countries sorting out their willingness to compromise, take responsibility, and engage commitments.


For our faith-based communities and other NGOs insisting to our countries’ representatives that gender and human rights are not ignored or sacrificed for expediency, and that poorer and more vulnerable countries may receive what is fair for the impact climate change is already having in their home places.


For gathering with other people of faith to pray in both formal services (the Notre Dame service and on Saturday’s incredibly moving taize worship service) as well as prayers over meals and in “pop-up” worship spaces, witnessing to the importance of prayer, song, faith, and hope in the midst of serious intellectual conversations.  From leading a body prayer that I led at Presbyterians for Earth Care conferences in the midst of interfaith sisters and brothers in the “Green Zone” of the COP 21 to singing “Bless the Lord” (a Taize meditative song) with members of the Taize community and youth from around the world praying for climate, I give thanks to God.

cross inside taize worship service


  • For an AP story with a picture of the Taize service and some comments on the faith community, see here.


For people sharing their personal stories—why they decided to spend the money, time, carbon emissions, and personal energy to come to this place, believing it will make a difference to people they love back home:

  • Women and men telling stories about women and children’s health impacted by climate change, from Laos and Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, Maldives (a website with some of these stories is here)
presentation on gender and climate
  • For Texas Impact colleagues, Yaira Robinson and Bee Morehead, who interviewed multiple denominational representatives and created helpful resources to understand what is happening at the COP 21 through their Boots ‘n’ Berets blog
  • Yaira Robinson and Bee Moorhead of TX Impact with another TX friendTexas Impact at COP 21
  • For the faithful group of panelists on “Faith and Race” (and those of us who wanted to hear them!) who persevered when we found a Saturday morning presentation cancelled once we arrived to the venue. After relocating 3 or 4 times, we finally found a place to hear from one another, about links between climate and race from Catherine Flowers, a civil rights activist from Alabama; from Asma Mahdi, a member of Green Muslims on how Muslims will be greatly impacted by climate change as many practicing Islam live along the equator and how many rich resources there are in the Qu’ran for responding to the need; from Liya Rechtman, a member of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life sharing American Jewish identity’s strong alignment with racial justie; and from moderator of the panel Jacqui Patterson, civil rights activist and NAACP leader, who encouraged us to “not be defined by our differences but by our common destiny” and to “take this back home—the movement is building!”  
faith and race conversation participants     faith and race conversation participants also


For all these and so much more, I give thanks to God as I contemplate and marvel at the diversity and wealth of creation!


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