Last Sunday – specifically Sunday night – was twelfth night. The Christmas trees are packed away. Christmas is officially over.
But as we continue to think long and hard about the magnitude of the fires our country is currently experiencing, I wondered if there was a way to make the season of Christmas – the season of celebrating that the Word became flesh, that God loves and cares for and shared the flesh of all living things – last longer and last in a way that it starts to bring some hope.
Along these lines I read an article last week by media analyst and former journalist, Conal Hanna. He spoke of his frustration at the circular arguments about how Australia can’t go it alone, how we must wait for a consensus with larger polluters like the USA and China. “We should be setting an example!” he found himself saying, and then he thought about his own life. “Have I tried to cut my own emissions by the recommended 45 per cent or am I, too, waiting for an agreed society-wide consensus?”
It hit him that the main issue is self-interest. At one end of the scale sits our politicians and industries carrying on much as usual (while telling us what we want to hear) while at the other is our “individual self-interests: eating steak, plane travel and ambient, air-conditioned temperatures…. As climate protests grew louder in 2019,” he writes, “I found myself yearning for a mass movement not of defiance but of sacrifice.”
He and his family have committed themselves to sacrifice in order to meet that 45 per cent reduction target; re-examining their diet, purchasing habits, leisure activities and super investments and making one new life-long carbon-reducing resolution very month in 2020. He writes, “There will be no gimmicky “my year without …” abstinence. Each commitment will be something we’re willing to do forever from that point on…. We are not seeking immediate perfection, simply to each month do better than we were before.”
Some of you will also have read the blog Emmeline, a member of our church, wrote last week. (If you haven’t – do! Emmelinetyler.wordpress.com.au) She also spoke of the need for sacrifice (and recommended Katie Patrick’s book How To Save the World), but also the need to sustain a life of sacrifice with contemplation and prayer (she is committing herself to 20 minutes each Sunday); contemplation that moves us past fear and panic and prayer that goes beyond short-term, one-off responses to a life of walking with God on this issue.
I am sure that all of us will be responding generously to this bushfire crisis. May we also be inspired by Conal’s suggestion – of a monthly permanent change – and Emmeline’s example of being sustained and guided in these changes by prayer. For we are not alone. The Word who became flesh has come to be with us. Amen. Hallelujah!