A new booklet produced in the UK, Travelling to Paris: Prayers for Climate, makes it possible to take part in the People’s Pilgrimage from anywhere in the world.
Spearheaded by former climate change commissioner Yeb Saño from the Philippines, who made an impassioned plea for action at COP19 as Typhoon Haiyan devastated his country, the People’s Pilgrimage is calling on leaders to bring the world to a meaningful climate agreement at COP21 from 30 November to 11 December.
In his reflection, Anglican Alliance Co-Executive Director Andy Bowerman talks about his life-long fascination with pilgrimages and what has motivated him to set off for Paris on bicycle together with other pilgrims.
“I am joining the people’s pilgrimage to Paris to encourage the world’s leaders to take decisive action on climate change,” he says.
He intends to bring to the table the voices of those advocating for action such as Archbishop Winston of Polynesia who aren’t able to come to Paris themselves.
The Anglican Alliance is gathering hundreds of voices and words from around the globe and then symbolically taking them to Paris,” Andy explains.
Archbishop Winston’s message is clear: “I will be encouraging as many as possible to join the pilgrimage to highlight the issue of climate change, with the fervent hope that it rallies people and communities towards building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.”
For Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, the pilgrimage offers an opportunity for intercessory prayer.
“Pray today for those who are preparing the political and diplomatic processes for the Climate Change summit. Hold them lovingly before God and ask that they be supported and strengthened to do their work for the good of all,” he urges in his reflection.
Andy says that the pilgrimage comes at an important crossroads in the climate justice debate, as an unprecedented civil society mobilisation continues to build towards the Paris meetings.
“I ponder on the path we will choose. Join me in asking God to move the hearts and minds of those making decisions. I will be doing that as I peddle from Wells Cathedral to Salisbury Cathedral and on via Newhaven to Paris.”
The pilgrimage is also a time to look inward and think about the need for action in one’s own life, the writers note.
Bishop Nicholas picks up the question of Matthew 9.5, whether it is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’. Either way, he reflects, what we are being told is to get on and live as God would have us be.
Jesus invited others to join his walk when he said, ‘Come, follow me’, comments Graham Usher, Bishop of Dudley, in his reflection.
“The [Pilgrimage], whether we are joining in physically along the route … or tracing it in our mind from the comfort of our own chair, is a walk with Jesus. He calls us to set out on a journey that involves leaving behind old ways and become his agents for mending the world.”
“We invite people throughout the Communion to ‘take a deliberate step towards Paris today’ together with those walking and cycling,” Andy says. “How can you walk in a more Jesus-centred way?”
Photo: Nearly 50 pilgrims set off on 13 November from London to Paris. Credit: Christian Aid.