Active longing

Action and longing go hand in hand. Jessica Morthorpe reflects on the hope of climate action.


Jessica Morthorpe is a Uniting Earth Advocate with Uniting NSW/ACT, campaigning on climate and environmental issues. She is also the founder and director of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards, an ecumenical environmental change program for churches and religious organisations.

Active longing

In a space of longing, we are invited into action. As we take up God’s invitation to act, we see the Kingdom of God draw near.

Daily Reading John 1:1-5

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.

I’ve been looking for hope more and more lately.

As the impacts of climate change in Australia and around the world become more obvious and dire, I’ve needed something to hold on to.

What I’ve found most helpful are the words of the incredible and prophetic young leader Greta Thunberg who started the ‘School Strike for Climate’ movement just over a year ago. She reminds us:
"We do need hope—of course, we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come.”

Advent is a time of longing, a time of waiting. A time when we remember the gap between where we are and where we want to be. This gap doesn’t refer to escaping this physical world: God as flesh is the ultimate affirmation of the physical world, its creatures and their importance. Rather, we recognise the imperfections all around us, the things that harm this world and its flourishing. We long for them to come to an end.

Jesus’ incarnation and work of redemption point us forward to God’s ultimate goal for the earth: the reconciliation and renewal of all creation. This is the great project that God calls us into as Christians.

We are not there yet. There is so much in our world that does not yet reflect the kingdom. So much in how we treat each other and so much in how we treat creation. So our waiting must be active. As God’s hands and feet in the world, we must be the changes God wants to see. We must work to bring the kingdom forward into our messy, broken world.

To find hope in a world of climate change, Christians must lead the way into a new attitude of living and interacting with God’s precious creation. John 1:3 reminds us that “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being”. God loves this world and all the creatures and people in it. We must live as though they all matter – because to God, they do! We must honour God by loving Creation as God does and being incarnations of that love in the world. These strong motivations mean Christians should be the best climate activists, the most ecologically concerned and active people in our society.

Let’s lead by example and inspire our communities by showing that there are lots of things we can do today that will make an important difference. As we act, we will see the kingdom of God and the flourishing of creation get just that little bit closer.

When we make our longing active by speaking truth to power about climate change, by reducing our emissions and living a sustainable lifestyle – that is when we will begin to find the light of hope in the dark world that we live in.

We Are Longing: An Advent series from Common Grace