Counting on … day 1.119

Counting on …. Day 1.119

23rd May 2023

The campaign group “We Move” believes that politics in Europe needs to put people and planet first, and that it is people who have the power to push for the changes that are needed. 

Here is one of there current campaigns –

“Just 1% of people are responsible for half of all toxic emissions from flying….But here’s the thing: we can do something about it. In fact, the solution is simple – cut emissions from luxury flights. This includes a ban of private jets from European airports, a tax on frequent flyers and an end to frequent flyer programmes. And we know it can be done: Climate activists recently scored a win and managed to ban private jets at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Let’s build on that success and cut down luxury emissions from flying.”

Counting on … day 1.103

27th April 2023

Reflecting further on The Big One and what it achieved, it showed the positive being that humans can be.

60,000 people gathered to show both their concern for the damage being done in the world and to share their belief that a better world is possible.

60,000 people filled the streets and there were no arrests, no reports of anger or abuse. Well trained and and caring stewards kept everyone self and well looked after.

60, 000 people met and showed respect for each other, welcoming the young and the old, the fit and the not so fit, people of all races and backgrounds, genders and faiths.

60, 000 cooperated, sharing the space and the experience with each other.

60,000 people were entertained and inspired and drew strength from each other’s commitment.

The Big One, for me, demonstrated that a better world is possible and that the counter-cultural characteristics that we read off in the Gospels, the Letters and the Book of Acts is out there for real – and not confined within the walls of the churches.

Counting on … day 1.102

26th April 2023

Why do we need events like The Big One?

Gatherings of scale such as the Big One do 5 things:-

  1. Shows the authorities the size of public opinion
  2. Encourages those taking part that they are not alone in their endeavours
  3. Encourages other to find out more and/or join in the campaign
  4. Gives participants and spectators stories to tell that further the campaign
  5. Brings together and builds links between groups with similar aims.

Counting on … day 1.095

8th April 2023

Calling out injustice and being a prophetic voice has long been the vocation of the church. Now the Church is beginning to exercise this role in areas of the climate crisis. Christian Climate Action reports –  “Former Archbishop of York and current Chair of Christian Aid, John Sentamu said: “Climate change is the greatest insidious and brutal indiscriminate force of our time. The people suffering the most have done the least to cause it. That is why continuing to search for new sources of fossil fuels, despite explicit warnings against this from the International Energy Agency, is such an offence against humanity. If we want to limit climate suffering we have to leave fossil fuels in the ground. The Church has a proud history of standing up against injustice and once again we need to see Christians calling on the Government to take decisive actions”” 

Counting on .. day 1.094

7th April 2023

Talking about the climate crisis, what worries us and what the solutions might be is important – whether it’s talking with friends and family, with church and social groups, with businesses and providers, with MPs and local councillors. 

From the A22 Network a reports from Germany’s Letzte Generation (LG):  “Elsewhere, LG told mayors that their cities would be disrupted if they didn’t support our demands, creating a national discussion about whether this is justifiable. Our mayor said he didn’t want to be blackmailed, and instead wondered why we couldn’t just ask for his cooperation. So we did, without attacking him in any way, and he agreed.

“This is something we are hearing more and more. It feels like there are many more open doors than expected. We’re not there yet and there’s a lot more work to do, but I want to share with you the feeling that change is indeed possible since there are likely more allies than you think.””

Counting on … day 1.091

4th April 2023

On Sunday I joined with CCA and York’s local XR group in an action outside the Minster. With banners – “Love and Grief Earth Vigil” and “Creation Cries Out” – and leaflets and placards calling upon the Diocese of York to divest its fossil fuel shares, we gathered outside as the Liturgy of Palms took place (with two donkeys). Then we waited at west end, speaking with passers-by as other services carried on in the Minster, the Catholic Oratory and St Micheal’s in the Belfry. As the main congregation exited the Minster 9 people (and a dog)  lay down on the ground, covered with sheets and each given a label stating the cause of death – highlighting the many ways in which the climate crisis is already impacting on people around the world and will continue to do so at an increasing rate. The atmosphere became somber and reflective and people asked questions and took leaflets as they made sense of the catastrophe we face.

If people have the facts, if people are told the truth, then they can act appropriately. 

Palm Sunday – 6th Sunday of Lent

2nd April 2023

Reflection on the readings for the Liturgy of the Palms.

Something is up. Something out of the ordinary is going to happen. There has been a level of advance  

planning that’s been done in secret. There’s even a password. 

And the plan is to enact a message that says: the rider of the donkey is your King, your humble King!  The mode of entry tells the onlookers, this is a peaceful act; not an act of aggression.

The Greek word translated as ‘humble’ can also have the meaning of mild, gentle or meek. The same word appears in the  Beatitudes – ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’ If we look to the original source of the quote, it comes from the prophet Zechariah where the word in Hebrew, ‘a-ni’ has the wider meaning of poor, afflicted or lowly, and is the word used for example in Leviticus 19:10 and Deuteronomy 15:11, to describe those for whom the Israelites must care: the poor and needy. 

The kingship that Jesus espouses is definitely counter cultural. His kingship is about humility, meekness, and solidarity with the poor and needy. Jesus’s attitude to power is to turn it upside down, placing the poor and needy, the meek and humble at the top of the hierarchy. The quote from Zechariah is longer, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ Despite being humble, this king is also to be seen as triumphant and victorious! 

The crowd also seems to be part of this action. They quickly cut down branches from the trees and spread their coats on the road as an improvised red carpet. They are setting the scene that supports visually their rallying cry: Here comes your King, your humble King! 

By taking up this cry, the people are affirming their allegiance to this King – and they are undertaking to live under his reign, to live according to his rule.

The gospel story has a prequel in which John the Baptist first emerges on the scene, declaring ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”’ (Matthew 3:1-3). 

Prepare the way for the Lord,  says John, and here a few years later we have the Lord riding along that very way into Jerusalem for what will be the culmination of his earthly ministry.  In Luke’s gospel John the Baptist goes on to give specific examples how the people (the crowd) are to prepare the way. They are to share their extra clothes and their extra food with those who lack. They are to collect no more taxes – or rewards – than are their due. They are not to extort money nor to make false accusations against others. They are to be generous sharing up to half of what they have; they  are to be truthful and honest. At this first stage of the mission, coats are to be shared – on Palm Sunday they are to be laid on the road before the Lord!

The gospel is about transforming the world, turning its habits and its conventions upside down. It is about rebalancing power between those who have lots of resources and those who have little. It is about rebalancing power between those whose jobs and positions – tax gatherer and soldiers, for us oil magnates and lobbyists – come loaded with power and influence, and those how do not – small scale tax payers, peasant farmers, women, the poor, the disabled, the foreigner. For when the meek inherit the earth, when the needs of the poor and lowly are met – when creation is treasured and not trashed – then will the Kingdom of God come on earth. 

I see strong parallels between Jesus’s action in entering Jerusalem on a donkey, and actions carried out by climate activists – such as that on Ash Wednesday when coal dust was used to mark the sign of the cross on the foreheads those taking part who then cried out aloud a lament as they held lumps of coal aloft.  These actions are prophetic actions designed to draw the onlookers’ – and the media, and  the gospel writers’ – attention to the message. The world order needs to be turned upside down so that the interests of the poor and the needy take priority – so that the often unvoiced needs of nature take priority,  so that power and authority are put in the hands of the many, the community, and are not kept in the hands of the wealthy few.

The action carried out by Jesus and the crowds is successful. It sets the whole city into a state of turmoil and flux, and the opinion that Jesus is a prophet is voiced loud and clear. Read on in this chapter from Matthew’s gospel and and you will see and hear more Jesus’s challenging good news message. 

Psalm 118 echoes Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, into the temple. The one who enters these gates has to be righteous. Is Jesus righteous? Yes! The one who becomes the corner stone, will be the one who has been previously rejected. Had Jesus been rejected? Yes – by those with misused power and authority! Has Jesus been marginalised and overlooked by the mainstream protagonists of the world? Yes – it is the humble, the poor and the meek who have recognised his true righteousness. Is Jesus the means of salvation? Yes!  Is Jesus a source of light, of blessing for the world? Yes! 

Let us then echo the crowds, shouting Hosannah! God, save us! Jesus is our blessing!

Matthew 21:1-11

When Jesus and his disciples had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, `The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; *
his mercy endures for ever.

2 Let Israel now proclaim, *
“His mercy endures for ever.”

19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; *
I will enter them;
I will offer thanks to the Lord.

20 “This is the gate of the Lord; *
he who is righteous may enter.”

21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *
and have become my salvation.

22 The same stone which the builders rejected *
has become the chief cornerstone.

23 This is the Lord’s doing, *
and it is marvellous in our eyes.

24 On this day the Lord has acted; *
we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Hosannah, Lord, hosannah! *
Lord, send us now success.

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; *
we bless you from the house of the Lord.

27 God is the Lord; he has shined upon us; *
form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar.

28 “You are my God, and I will thank you; *
you are my God, and I will exalt you.”

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; *
his mercy endures for ever.

Counting on …day 1.087

31st March 2023

“Normalising activism, or even conversations about climate change, is something Salamon* sees as a key psychological challenge. “It’s important to understand the forces of normalcy and social conformity. There’s a social psychology experiment where a room is filling with smoke. If all the other people in the room are just sitting there as if nothing was happening, the study subject will also not act. But if one person raises the alarm, it totally changes the dynamic. Yale calls it the ‘Spiral of Silence’ – people don’t talk about climate because other people don’t talk about it. The good news is that we can flip this, and normalise being alarmed about the climate emergency.” 

“What we’re talking about is getting the public to realise that we are not safe, our families are not safe, everything we love is not safe. The emergency is so advanced that we don’t have time for gradualist approaches. While small changes are better than nothing, I would rather see activists waking up the public and calling for solutions that could actually work””

  • Margaret Klein Salamon is a climate psychologist based in New York.

Prayers for Creation

31st March 2023 

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Matthew 3:3

 You Lord, are the source of all good things: 

We praise you.

You call us to tend and care for your creation: 

May we strive to do your will.

You have made us as brothers and sisters with all that lives: 

May we live together in peace. 

A reading from Matthew 21: 8-11

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosannah to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosannah in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Response – A Day of Action

Willow branches burst at the tips 

into the delicate green of spring.

The aroma of new life 

gently rises on the air.

Footsteps, hoof beats, 

small feet, big feet – 

that walk at a measured pace, 

that take a calculated risk.

Not flags, nor banners 

but branches torn from trees. 

No red carpet, no paparazzi 

but coats laid thick upon the road.

Hold your palms high, 

lift them not in surrender 

but in defiance. 

We will not bow to public pressure.

Cast down your coat, 

your mask, your many disguises. 

Cast down your self-conscious pride. 

Uncover the real you. 

Raise your hands, raise your voices!

Shout out loud! 

This is your King, your humble King!

The one at home with the poor and needy.

The slow moving crowd 

that swells and surges, 

now pauses, and then gathers momentum – 

nothing can hold back our passion now.

Onward! Upward! Into the city –

we the outsiders, the outcast, 

the forgotten and the marginalised,

 are taking our place in the story of salvation.

Take courage, take heart! 

Turn the world upside down. 

This is our King! 

This is the Saviour of the world!

Hosannah! Lord save us!

Lord, our loving Saviour,

We give thanks for all who stand up 

for the wellbeing of creation. 

Guide their actions with your wisdom.

Fill their hearts with your love.

Give strength for their bodies 

and compassion for their spirits.

Comfort those who are overcome with sadness.

Reassure those who are loosing hope. 

Heal those who have been injured.

Encompass those who have died.

The road to salvation seems long and uncertain.

May your redeeming power restore creation 

to new life in the Kingdom of God.