In a sermon during a worship service for climate justice in Bonn, Germany, on 12 November, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit called for wisdom. “There is a need for wisdom, a desperate need for wisdom in our world today,” he said, “A wisdom that is seeing and understanding the reality, discerning the times in which we live, and a wisdom that has the courage to say that something was wrong, the courage to act in a new way, preparing for the future together.”
The service was held in St Paulus Church with Canon Michael Bullock presiding. Tveit and Bishop Emeritus Bärbel von Wartenberg-Potter were accompanied at the altar by Bishop Jan Jansen from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg, Rev. James Baghwan from the Methodist Church in Fiji, and Rev. Tafue Lusama, general secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu.
Tveit praised the journey shared by religious leaders as they attend the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently underway in Bonn, Germany, from 6-17 November.
As many across the world observed the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year, Tveit said that the wisdom of God is working in this world creating something new every day.
“Now we are reminded that this reformation must go on,” Tveit added. “That is a promise also for us: the darkness of our foolishness is not going to overcome God’s light. Behind everything that happens here in Bonn these days, behind all the work we do as politicians, as civil society, as people of faith to address climate change - it is about being foolish or being wise.”
He added: “We seek wisdom today, wisdom to take care of this one planet, the creation of God that is granted to us, to our children, to our grandchildren, as it was to our parents and our forefathers and foremothers, and to all that lives on this planet: animals, plants, everything. We are in a new situation in the sense that the darkness in the world which we are able to create as human beings is getting even darker.”
Those within the ecumenical movement have been listening to one other for many years, continued Tveit. “We have been listening to the wisdom of what different cultures would say, particularly indigenous cultures,” he said. “How to live together, how to live in peace with one another, and in peace with God’s creation?”
Wartenberg-Potter said, in her part of the sermon, that human beings sometimes feel they are not part of nature, that they are something beyond. “But the truth is, when you ask scientists and when you ask theologians, you have to learn how deeply we are interconnected with everything created,” she said.
Human beings are not the center of the universe but we are interwoven in the great tapestry of life, Wartenberg-Potter added. “We have a special responsibility for this tapestry. And indeed the human species is endangered because we destroy our own house of life.”
On the occasion, the message from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the UNFCCC COP23 was read, urging all faith communities and leaders, “who can make an enormous difference in convincing governments and corporations never to submit to complacency, but ever to amplify and intensify your efforts.”
After the service, Tveit and Jansen joined the 12th meeting of the synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), which is also taking place in Bonn from 12-15 November. Tveit addressed the EKD synod on the evening of 12 November.