Epiphany 2012 and Moderator Mardi Tindal   Leave a comment

Lake Ontario from the Scarborough Bluffs

Mardi Tindal, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, has written the
following message for Epiphany, 2012.
Newtonbrook United Church folk may be interested in it.
 
 
Epiphany: Witness, Leadership, and a New Path  
Hope was born in a stable, and those the world had judged wise came to see. 
After witnessing this fragile new hope, the Magi "went home by a different way." 
They were not the same. 

My thoughts this Epiphany are filled with both the fragile new hope that I saw
born at the UN climate change talks in Durban, and the bitter disappointment
that calls us to go home by a new and different way. 

On the one hand, according to the best science available, the Durban talks
failed to produce large enough emission reduction targets to avert destructive
climate change, of which last year's extreme weather is the merest foretaste. 

And yet, for the first time ever, all nations have said that they will commit to
enforceable climate action by 2015. 

And even though Canada bitterly disappointed the world, many nations still hold
the fragile hope that Canada will commit itself to a generous way of compassion
and justice. 

If we are to return home by a different way, we are called to nourish this
fragile hope. 

Witness
I speak often about the interrelationship of soul, community, and creation. In
my view, everything good begins in the soul, that inner place where we listen
deeply to the "still, small voice" that speaks to us of truth. 

When we hear that still, small voice, our soul longs to fulfill its call in
community. Our souls need community to help us align our inner knowing with our
outer work. This is what allows us to act with integrity in the world. Caring
for God's creation arises from souls and community in harmony with each other. 

Christians and other people of faith have a particular responsibility as people
who listen to that still, small voice and create community where it can be heard
more clearly. In our United Church Song of Faith, we sing of participating in
God's healing of creation. Shared worship and work, prayer, scripture, and other
language of the heart help us find our way home to God, one another, and
creation. 

In Durban, I met with Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of the Environment. To my
surprise, Mr. Kent was forthright in calling climate change a "disaster in the
making." I became convinced that he understands the causes and consequences of
climate change. He spoke of a climate change presentation in Durban that he said
made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. 

I take Mr. Kent's words to mean that he knows in his soul that Canada must
choose between contributing to global disaster or to global healing-so I wonder
all the more about his resistance to actions that would prevent further climate
change. I therefore feel compassion for him, as he must have a terrible inner
struggle, knowing we could be doing so much more to prevent massive suffering
and death. If he finds the courage to embrace the fragile hope born in Durban,
he will need our support. 

Leadership
As Moderator I have learned something about the ambiguities of leadership and
the complex interrelationship between the one who is designated "leader" and the
people of his or her community. 

It matters whom we include in our community. We need others with whom our
understanding and compassion will be stretched. I believe this is a fundamental
requirement of leadership. I hope Mr. Kent is able to claim all Canadians and,
indeed, all global citizens as his community. If the relatively small community
of climate skeptics in Canada is the community he chooses to identify with, it
will become harder for him to remember the cries he heard in Africa from people
begging for climate justice, and for their lives. 

For myself, I choose to claim Peter Kent as part of my community. I will not
exclude him from those I am prepared to talk and work with to prevent the
disaster in the making. In Durban, Mr. Kent told the General Secretary of the
Mennonite Church Canada and me that he is prepared to keep meeting with us. This
holds the possibility that a difficult and necessary conversation about the
choices facing Canada will continue. 

As Canadians, we need to convince our leaders that we will support morally
responsible choices for the sake of life for all. Morally responsible choices
embrace the needs and the wisdom of others in our global community. Morally
responsible choices stir us to march alongside youth, to the beat of impatient
hope. 

A new path 
Hope was born in a stable, a hope for all humanity, a hope for the whole world.
It came as a helpless infant, so all of us should understand the need to nourish
and care for it. God entrusted us to care for God's Son the same way God
entrusted us to care for God's creation. We cannot care for one without caring
for the other. 

As humanity, we have only one home. Science tells us we must limit climate
change in order to survive as a species. Faith tells us we must limit climate
change because God calls us to love one another as God loves us. To return home
means to embrace Earth as the place that sustains us and as the gift God gives
us. 

I pray that you will find opportunities this year to listen carefully to that
still, small voice and discover what it means for you to go home by a different
way. I pray that you will feel part of a community that helps you celebrate your
right place and relationships in God's good creation. I pray that together we
will protect and nourish the fragile hope born in Durban. We are people of soul,
community, and creation. 

Moderator,
Mardi Tindal,
The United Church of Canada,
3250 Bloor Street West,
Suite 300,
Toronto, Ontario M8X 2Y4
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