Prayer for COP – The Global Climate Talks
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg spoke at a vigil organised by Interfaith Scotland to mark the beginning of COP26. Here are his thoughts and the prayer he read:
The prayers were for world leaders to open their hearts and find the strength to do what we know our planet needs. The mood was not hostile; on the contrary there was deep appreciation for the huge responsibility which rests on them, on everyone in a position of leadership and influence, and on us all. There is a clear understanding that now is not the time for general promises but for urgent commitments to specific actions and urgent, binding targets. If not now, when?
The world and its fullness belong to God:’ this was the attitude of the poets of the Bible.
They understood that we are part of a living whole, this planet, with its awe-inspiring myriad of interdependent forms of life.
We are not the masters of creation. The Bible recognised, in Ecclesiastes’ words, ‘That even kings – and Presidents, Prime Ministers and Parliaments – depend on the soil.’
Yet we are entrusted with the privilege of ‘working the earth with respect’ and the responsibility to ‘look after it with reverence.’
Therefore, God, help us to do so with fairness and compassion toward the whole of humanity and the natural world.
We cannot continue to treat nature as ours to monetise and exploit, or peoples, lands, waters, forests and animals simply in terms of profit.
So help us to restore justice and humility, wonder and joy in creation.
Inspire us to collaborate, across all faiths and philosophies, across the generations, and across all national and political boundaries.
For we must combine all our efforts, local, communal, national and international; spiritual, moral and educational; economic, legal, scientific and technical, to work together.
None of us is exempt from the duty to preserve and enhance life on this planet.
Never has the task been so urgent or all-embracing.
We have no right to rob from the future; we owe this to the world’s children.
Once a year, on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish celebration of ‘the birthday of the world,’ we blow the shofar, the ram’s horn. Its raw sound, not music, not human, is a cry to God, and to our conscience and spirit, the divine within us all, from the very earth, from life itself. Our duty is to hear i