When the ways of people please the LORD, he causes even their enemies to be at peace with them. Better is a little with righteousness than large income with injustice. The human mind plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps. Inspired decisions are on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgement. Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves those who speak what is right. How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. It is better to be of a lowly spirit among the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. Those who are attentive to a matter will prosper, and happy are those who trust in the LORD. The wise of heart is called perceptive, and pleasant speech increases persuasiveness. Wisdom is a fountain of life to one who has it, but folly is the punishment of fools. The mind of the wise makes their speech judicious, and adds persuasiveness to their lips.
Long before I moved to Cardiff, I had heard Wales described as the ‘Land of Song’. The melodies of the great Welsh anthem and majestic hymn, Calon Lan, testify to the power of the human voice and our need to express ourselves through words and music. The ability to communicate with one another, an immeasurable gift from God, brings with it joy, danger, responsibility and opportunity.
In Christian Aid’s Song of the Prophets, we hear that ‘Prophetic voices, whether from the Scriptures, from climate science, or from people living in poverty today, sing a powerful song. We must set aside our fear and listen.’
Most climate scientists predict that global warming could reach 1.5 degrees by 2030. Today, already at 1 degree of warming, the cycle of climate chaos robs the poorest communities of their means of survival. The Dasgupta Report warns that one in four species are at risk of extinction. Addressing the UK Parliament, the young activist, Greta Thunberg, asked if her microphone was really on and if she could be heard, because she was beginning to wonder.
If we have listened to the scientists, to nature, to the most vulnerable and to the young, how should we respond? Today’s reading reminds us that the ‘mouth should not betray justice’ (Proverbs 16:10, NIV). The Climate Sunday initiative was a chance for local churches and their members to find their voices, to commit to long-term action and to sign the Climate Coalition’s Declaration. Hope for the Future encouraged churches to speak to their MPs ahead of COP 26, while Climate Cymru gathered thousands of diverse voices from throughout Wales to take to the summit. There are always opportunities to use our voices as we work for climate justice. The challenge now is to ensure that our lives speak louder than our words as we continue to listen to those ‘who help us to reimagine the world… and inspire us with the hope to keep on singing’ (‘Song of the Prophets’, Christian Aid).
Creator God, You have spoken and we hear your words: Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. Give us courage to challenge ourselves and our lifestyles, strength in our continued calls for climate justice, and hope that the power of our voices may create change. Amen
Eileen Newington is the Outreach Elder at Beulah URC and the Green Advocate for the National Synod of Wales