Every New Year needs an inspiring sermon to put life into perspective. At this start to the new decade and with a need for something more than bland resolutions, to repair that which has not worked from the last decade, I like the message in recent  sermon by Bruce Sanguin, Founder of  the Evolutionary Christian Centre, at Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver Canada and author of “Emerging Church”. This message seems especially relevant because Bruce shares how keeping a vigil during the Copenhagen talks gave him new insights on his own worldviews, on those of his fellow/sister citizens and how Canada has earned its “colossal fossil” climate reputation in the world (a strong resonance with Integral City’s 3 part master rule.)

Enjoy the excerpt below and find the full sermon at http://www.canadianmemorial.org/sermons_2/2009_12_13.html . Suggestion: Even if you find, as you read, that your views differ from Bruce’s, stay with the message to the end.

“Feeling The Heat: Climate Change And The Call To Repent”

A Sermon Preached by Bruce Sanguin
December 13, 2009Luke 3: 7-18


By now, I suspect many of you have read George Monbiot’s blog relating to Canada and climate change. “Canada’s scheming at the climate talks is doing for its national image what whaling has done for Japan.” The author of the bestseller, Heat, goes on: “I will not pretend this country is the only obstacle to an agreement at Copenhagen. But it is a major one. The immediate threat to the global effort to sustain a peaceful and stable world comes not from Saudi Arabia or Iran or China. It comes from Canada. How could that be?”

Shockingly, Canada finds itself ranked 59th out of 60 nations on the climate change performance index, which assesses the efforts of the 60 richest nations. Saudi Arabia came 60th.  Here’s our dismal and shameful record:

  • We are the only signatory to the Kyoto Protocol to have abandoned its targets to cut greenhouse emissions.
  • Between 1990 and 2012 we committed to cutting emissions by 6%. Instead they have risen by 26%.
  • In 2007, we single-handedly blocked a Commonwealth resolution to support binding targets for industrialized nations.
  • After the climate talks in Poland in 2008, we won the Fossil of the Year award, presented by environmental groups to the country which had done the most to disrupt the talks.

John the Baptist comes along, as he does every Advent, issuing a call to repentance. This is not merely about pointing the finger of divine judgment at us so that we might say we’re sorry.  The call of every social prophet, including John, is to provide the opportunity for us to fundamentally reorient our lives in light of an immanent crisis. In John’s day, that crisis was the advent or the coming of the Messiah. John was baptizing people as a way of preparing for the arrival of God’s messiah. Within the apocalyptic worldview of John, this arrival would usher in a crisis – an end of one era and the beginning of a new creation.

Today, we’re not literally awaiting the arrival of a Messiah. But the underlying apocalyptic pattern is very much upon us. An old worldview is being unveiled as inadequate for the complexities of an emerging world. An unregulated market economy dependent upon an ever-increasing pattern of consumption of its citizens is over. The funeral may not be for another 10 or 20 or 30 years, but it’s the beginning of the end. We’d need the equivalent of four planets to continue down this road. We’re drawing down the natural capital of the earth at an unprecedented frenzy of consumption. This system has been fueled, literally, by oil and its byproducts. These fossil fuel emissions are creating a greenhouse effect, and trapping heat, causing the planet to heat up. You are all aware of the symptoms by now; the unexpectedly rapid rate of the melting of the polar ice-caps, wild-climate fluctuations, causing drought in some areas, and increased cooling in others, the acidification of the oceans and the erosion of our coral reefs, and rising sea levels which is projected to cause a refugee crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen. To repeat, the apocalyptic scenario, stripped of its premodern associations with God returning to destroy the earth and save the true believers, is a valid metaphor for today.

Or is it? What about “Climate Gate”? * I’ve spent a few noon hours this past week with members of Canadian Memorial and other supporters passing out fact sheets about climate change, and fasting as a way of signaling to our leaders that this issue is urgent, and that we want them to take bold measures at the Copenhagen summit that is going on right now. We took this action in solidarity with the Rev. Dr. Bill Phipps, former moderator of the United Church of Canada who has been fasting and holding vigil in Calgary. This was actually my first foray into street corner activism, and what surprised me was the number of angry people I encountered. Quite a few would refuse the materials and bark back something like: “I don’t believe in climate change. The problem is solar flares.  It’s volcanoes. It’s mother earth’s natural cycles. It has nothing to do with us. Can’t you read? How do you spell climate gate?”

… read the complete message at http://www.canadianmemorial.org/sermons_2/2009_12_13.html