30th October 2022
Reflection (the readings are below)
The reading from Daniel reminds us that dreams and visions can both disturb and console us. They may show us how the future could look but always with the proviso that the future is not set in stone. Disasters may loom but the future is not irretrievable. Hope is always valid. Today much of our news portrays a vision of a future full of fear and want, increasing threats of war and of economic oppression, of climate change and the extinction of vast tracks of wildlife species. We seem to have few visions of a better future to inspire us.
Today’s psalm begins with rejoicing and praise – words that exude hope and optimism. But then the mood changes to one of vengeance violence and not something I feel comfortable with. Yet the end objective is to establish peace and justice.
The theme of hope runs through the passage from the letter to the Ephesians. Our hope comes from Christ Jesus – it is our inheritance and with it we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is an inheritance we share with all the saints being all those who are God’s holy people. God’s power works through Jesus Christ and thus through that fellowship – the body of Christ – the church. It is this power working out through the saints that changes the world for the better, that establishes heaven – the rule of God – on earth.
The Beatitudes from Luke’s gospel illustrates the radical, upside-down nature of God’s kingdom. We the followers of Jesus, the saints past and present, are called to live out this radically lifestyle and thus continue to establish the Kingdom of God.
This week the State of the Climate Action 2022 reported that “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires transforming almost all systems, from how we power our economy and build our cities to how we feed a growing population and manage our land. But these transformations are not occurring nearly fast enough. This report assesses progress across 40 indicators of systems change and finds that none are on track to reach their 2030 targets. Change is heading in the right direction at a promising but insufficient speed for 6 indicators, and in the right direction but well below the required pace for 21. Change in another 5 indicators is heading in the wrong direction entirely, and data are insufficient to evaluate the remaining 8.
Getting on track to achieve 2030 targets will require an enormous acceleration in effort.”
We are at a critical point. Emissions currently are set to rise 10.6% by 2030 (from 2010 levels); to keep to the desired minimum 1.5c rise in temperatures, emissions need to drop 45% by 2030. Yet in this time period an estimated $570 billion annually will be spent on new oil and gas development and exploration. If invested in wind and solar energy, those investments would bridge the $450bn annual funding gap to displace oil and gas production in line with 1.5C goal! (Climate Change News).
In other words we do have the means to turn this situation round – but it will need radical changes in investment, legislation, lifestyle and practices. If these changes are not made, the climate crisis will accelerate exponentially causing distress and destruction to lives across the world.
Can we, as Christians, as would-be followers of the way of life laid down in the Beatitudes, radically change our lives? Do we have a clear vision of the how the world could and should be? Can we acknowledge the scope of our riches and be generous to the point of becoming poor? Can we act to bring an end to hunger? To bring an end to food poverty, fuel poverty, hygiene poverty, health poverty, education poverty, and housing insecurity? Can we work to ensure all can share in the joy and laughter of life? Can we challenge those in authority, in government and business, to do what is needed? Can we sign petitions, write to business leaders, contact our MP, take to the streets?
Can we, empowered by the Holy Spirit and filled with hope, make a difference?
In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream: I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.
As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me. I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter: “As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever—for ever and ever.”
Sing to the Lord a new song; *
sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
2 Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; *
let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise his Name in the dance; *
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people *
and adorns the poor with victory.
5 Let the faithful rejoice in triumph; *
let them be joyful on their beds.
6 Let the praises of God be in their throat *
and a two-edged sword in their hand;
7 To wreak vengeance on the nations *
and punishment on the peoples;
8 To bind their kings in chains *
and their nobles with links of iron;
9 To inflict on them the judgment decreed; *
this is glory for all his faithful people.
In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Jesus looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.