What Can I Bring Him? – Session Four
What Can I Bring Him? – Session Four
In this session, looking at week four of Advent, we will use the fourth line of the hymn Sleepers Wake to discuss the state of climate change today. Features an interview with Loretta Minghella OBE.

In this session looking at week four of Advent we will use the fourth line of the hymn Sleepers Wake, written below, to frame a discussion about the situation we are facing in terms of climate change and the environment.

Each lamp be bright
With ready light
To grace the marriage feast tonight.

Watch the Video

Watch the video below featuring an interview with Loretta Minghella.  Loretta Minghella OBE is a British charity executive and solicitor. Since 2021, she has served as Master of Clare College, Cambridge, her alma mater. From November 2017, she served as the First Church Estates Commissioner, one of the most senior lay people in the Church of England. From April 2010 to 2017, she was the Chief Executive Officer of Christian Aid.

Study Notes

Throughout the book there is a feeling of hopefulness even though we are facing a dire situation. In the foreword the Archbishop of York says it is ‘shot through with hope’. When faced with climate change, we could feel helpless and hopeless with the idea that we are just one person, and how we can do nothing as individuals to make a change to the situation. However, we must make the one-degree changes if we are to see any hope, especially as Christians. There is a highly significant phrase in the second chapter of Genesis that gets lost in translation. It says that God “took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”. In the original Hebrew, these two verbs are technical terms designating specific types of responsibility. The word translated as “to work” in fact means “to serve”. It is the term the Bible elsewhere uses to describe the relationship between humanity and God. It means that within the created world we are servants not masters. The verb translated as “take care of” has the legal sense of guardianship. We do not own the world. God has temporarily placed it in our care as trustees for the benefit of future generations. Week four of the book shows us how we can bring our gift to Christ in terms of what we can do to play our part in looking after what God has given to us.

From the Book – Page 5-6

Many Christians concerned about climate change and the environment
were struck by something said by Gus Speth, an American environmental
lawyer who co-founded the Natural Resources Defence Council and became
Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies:
I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss,
eco system collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of
good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The
top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy – and to
deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation – and
we scientists don’t know how to do that.

What can we do then? Loretta speaks of the Christian Aid formula of Give, Act and Pray. As with any aspect of life, the first thing we should always do is pray and bring our hearts and minds to God. In terms our finances we can feel hopeless, but we can either praise or protest with our resources – we have interactions, be them big or small, with the financial world and we can make ethical decisions that support the climate change movement.

The Church of England, in the form of the Church Commissioners, is leading the way in terms of ethical investments when it comes to climate change. They invested, in a fossil fuels point of view, only with things that are compatible with Christian ethics and morals – this meant turning away from companies that made money on fossil fuels. Then investment was made with companies who were more sustainable in their ethics. The bulk of the work has been engaging with those firms who still have time to change and to empower them to change in the right direction to keep the investments. The Church Commissioners have also encouraged other main investors to adopt the same stance with great success.

Lin Yutang, a Chinese linguist, philosopher, novelist, translator and inventor said this of hope – “Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” In this memorable affirmation, Yutang was acknowledging the power of collective action. Born into a Christian family, Yutang dismissed his early upbringing as a form of cultural imperialism that undermined traditional Chinese values. Although he did explore other spiritual faiths in later life, Yutang did return to his upbringing, inspired by his wife Liao who was a devout Christian. Hope is a doing word – a verb, not passive. This is very true when it comes to our action within the climate change crisis. As we go into the season of Advent perhaps, we should give time to prayer and careful reflection about what actions we can take going forwards to play our part.

In conclusion watch the below video with Nicholas Holtam as he gives his words on Sleepers Wake and Advent 2022.

From the Book – Page 109-110

Martin Luther said that even if he knew the world would go to pieces
tomorrow, he would still plant an apple tree. Planting a tree is one of the most hopeful things any of us can do in the face of adversity, and few actions have given me more pleasure than doing this myself or having someone plant a tree in my name. Of course, it is important to seek good advice and plant the right tree in the right place.
You might want to think about what other hopeful actions you can take,
but if you are still looking for a last-minute Christmas present, you can buy a tree online from organizations such as the Woodland Trust, the National Trust and the National Forest. They provide a certificate for you to give the person receiving the gift of a tree, to tell them it has been done in their name.

A tree links Christmas to the crucifixion on Good Friday.
Behold the wood of the cross on which was hung the saviour of the
Come, let us worship.
(Ancient Liturgy for Good Friday)

It is a sign of our redemption and would make a very happy Christmas
present. Getting serious about climate change is not pain free but it is hopeful:
For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
(Is. 55.12–13)

Discussion Points