Just a couple of weeks ago the COP27 climate change talks were in the headlines. Heads of State, other leaders and campaigners from across the globe had descended on Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for the annual UN conference on climate change. Each year these summits are the focus for much of the world’s anxiety about the changing climate. And this year has been another one filled with extreme weather events: droughts, floods and extreme temperatures, including a new record temperature of 40.3°C in the UK.
The COP talks are also a focus for hope. Each year we hope for agreements that will slow, stop or even reverse human induced climate change. We also hope for agreements that will bring about justice sharing of the burden between countries that have largely caused the problem and those who are suffering the most.
Unfortunately, all too often there is a significant gap between what is hoped for and what is actually agreed, and between what is agreed and what actually happens in practice. Last year, the campaigner Greta Thunberg criticised the COP26 talks in Glasgow for being just ‘blah, blah, blah’: just a talking shop full of empty words. What is needed for real change is for countries and corporations to get beyond words to significant actions; to embody what they say in the way they act.
We are now in the Christian season of Advent, a time of hope filled waiting and expectant activity. It is a time of hoping and waiting for God to speak and to act. We wait for Christmas to arrive.
What arrived that first Christmas was not simply words from God, not even action from God. God goes beyond words and beyond actions. God’s Word becomes flesh, embodied in a human life. The word we use is incarnation. But what happened that first Christmas goes beyond the words and language that we have to satisfactorily explain. The Gospel writer John reaches for poetic language to try an express what is almost beyond our comprehension.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Our waiting ends and our hope is fulfilled in the coming of God’s Word as a fragile and vulnerable baby. In the coming of Jesus the world is transformed and will never be the same again, because God’s word has become flesh.
This Christmas may you know the transforming love of God who’s Word comes to us in the form of baby Jesus.