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Home  >  Features  >  Climate Justice Diary: Dwelling in Love


Picture: New Zealand Defence Force.
Picture: New Zealand Defence Force.

Climate Justice Diary: Dwelling in Love

Wednesday January 26 2022

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, the Rev Sharon Hollis, asks how to respond to the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami which devastated Tonga.

Based on a pastoral address to a prayer service for Tonga organised by the Uniting Church in Australia. This was written on the unceded sovereign lands of the Wurundjeri-Woiwurrung people. It was based on 1 Corinthians 13.

What does it mean to dwell in love with Tonga? How might our concern for Tonga in the wake of earthquake and tsunami be lived out?

We will hold them in prayer. We will pray for them not just tonight and tomorrow and next week. We will continue to pray over the months and years it will take to rebuild Tonga and heal the people of Tonga.

We will care for Tongans we know in this country. We will check in with them. We will rejoice when they receive good news and weep with them when the news is sad. We will allow them to express their feelings and emotions. We will allow them to ask questions, to be angry, we will accept that a disaster like this brings with it a broad range of emotions, a need to rethink and reframe. We will honour the new insights and perspectives that will emerge. Trauma does not leave you unchanged.

If we have the means we will donate generously to organisations that will assist with rebuilding. We know cash is best because it allows people to buy what they need locally.

Because we dwell in love not just with the people of Tonga but with the land and sea and animals of Tonga, we will redouble our efforts to address climate change. We will do this because we know that the impacts of climate change are already being experienced in Tonga and the impact of this natural disaster is made worse by climate change. We will do this because we know that Tonga and so many other Pacific nations their land, their people, their cultures face annihilation if we do not address climate change urgently.  Their land is disappearing under the sea, their countries are being battered more frequently by huge tides, cyclones occur more frequently, land is being degraded. If we pray for Tonga tonight we must act to care for creation tomorrow. So we will advocate and take action and demand change from our government. We dwell in love by caring for creation.

To dwell in love also means we will act for gender justice because we know that the effects of climate change and of natural disasters fall disproportionately on women. This is true around the world. So as an act of love we will continue to work for gender justice.

Let us dwell in love with the people of Tonga through our prayers and our actions. Let us care not just for the people of Tonga but also for its land and sea and for all of creation. ‘For faith hope and love abide and the greatest of these is love.’

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Climate Justice Diaries: a new series in which Church of Scotland partners from around the world explore the impact of climate change, and what is being done to help. 

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Margaret Pang reflects on attending COP26 on behalf of the Boys' Brigade
Maness Nkhata from Malawi describes how climate change is affecting subsistence farmers.
Keith and Ida Waddell highlight how those least to blame for climate change are most at risk.
Joel Hafvenstein explains how climate change is impacting farming communities in Nepal.
Gorden Simango on how the crisis is affecting the poorest in Africa.