On Saturday, representatives from 195 countries announced they had reached an accord that promises to be the most significant piece of international environmental legislation to date. It’s not perfect, but it’s a dramatic step towards confronting the threat of climate change. In an advent season that has been thus far defined by the politics of fear, this is what God’s in-breaking love looks like. This is what it looks like to confront real and pressing danger across difference. This is what it looks like when politicians devote their efforts towards reaching meaningful solutions, rather than assigning blame. I see hope in this agreement, made stronger by the diversity of its authorship.
We hear so many voices telling us otherwise; admonishing us to distrust those who look different, have different cultures, practice different faiths. We are told to be suspicious, to be on high alert—ever vigilant to avert the next tragedy. Bold, brash voices embrace fearful rhetoric, casting about for scapegoats to oppress so as to project strength. It is precisely because we live in fearful times that we need to trust, ever more strongly, in the hope of Christ. We must, in the face of fear, believe in the ability of love to cast out the creeping darkness.
So, instead of looking to those who exploit tragedy to advance an agenda of hate, let us look to an accord of love, signed in the city of love—still reeling from calamity. This accord professes love for God’s creation, and an understanding of our global interconnectedness. The problems that face our global community are grave; no country’s unilateral action can adequately address them. However, if we reject the seductive call of those who sow discord, we see the love of God ever-ready to transform our scarred and troubled world.
This advent, I wait on a love that will trump hate. I wait for our country to stand up, declaring in one voice: we will not be bullied into prejudice and discrimination. I wait, emboldened by those whose actions proclaim courageous love and convicted that we are stronger than those who seek to divide us. Jesus was born a refugee in uncertain times. I pray and watch for his presence in our uncertain times, acting on behalf of the marginalized and the oppressed.
Ben Perry is an Assistant Editor at Time, Inc., a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in NYC and a member of Bedford Presbyterian Church.