Day 9: a shared path – i

It is good to be reminded that we are not the only travellers on the road. Some may be moving faster than us, others slower. Either way it is always a good idea to keep an eye out for the wellbeing of others – and especially for wildlife as humankind’s behaviour is decimating the world’s biodiversity.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. Luke 10:33-34 

If you want to learn, then go and ask the wild animals and the birds, the flowers and the fish. Any of them can tell you what the Lord has done. Every living creature is in the hands of God. Job 12:7-10

Sunday Reflection

21st November 2021: Feast of Christ the King

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched,

thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne,

his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;

his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.

A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.

A thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.

The court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.

And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.

To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,

that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,

and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.

Psalm 93

1 The Lord is King;
he has put on splendid apparel; *
the Lord has put on his apparel
and girded himself with strength.

2 He has made the whole world so sure *
that it cannot be moved;

3 Ever since the world began, your throne has been established; *
you are from everlasting.

4 The waters have lifted up, O Lord,
the waters have lifted up their voice; *
the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

5 Mightier than the sound of many waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea, *
mightier is the Lord who dwells on high.

6 Your testimonies are very sure, *
and holiness adorns your house, O Lord,
for ever and for evermore.

Revelation 1:4b-8

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

John 18:33-37

Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Reflection 

Today is the feast of Christ the King, and our readings have the theme of dominion and kingdom. 

In science the world of living organisms is divided into five kingdoms using a system devised by Carl Linnaeus. These are the  kingdoms of animals (all multicellular creatures), plants, fungi, protists (Amoeba, Chlorella and Plasmodium) and prokaryotes (bacteria, blue-green algae). The classification system then recognises that each kingdom can be further subdivided. The kingdom of animals subdivides into phylum one of which – Chordata – includes all creatures with back bones. Phylum can then be subdivided into classes. Chordata for example has the subdivision of mammals. And so on. 

This plurality of Kingdoms and subdivisions overlap and co-exist and are dependent on each other for survival. In today’s readings we hear of the kingdoms of heaven and of earth, and it would seem that they too incorporate differences and interdependencies. Earth is not separate from heaven, but through the presence and involvement of God are interdependent – this seems to me to be what John is grappling with as he records this speech between Pilate and Jesus. 

In the Psalm we hear how the Lord – God – is king. God’s kingdom is what God has created and the strength of  God’s dominion, power, rule, comes from the firmness, the immovability of the earth – and yet even the strength God has created there cannot over come God. God is more than strength. Divine dominion comes from the excellence of God’s truth and holiness. The  response of the earth (here it is specifically the waves) is to lift up its voice – presumably in joy and praise and admiration  and honour. 

From the reading from the Book of Daniel we learn that the difference between God’s dominion and that of earthly dominions, is that whilst the latter may pass away, the former will not. This is echoed at the end of the passage from Revelation: for God is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega. 

The Book of Daniel presents the kingdom, the realm of God as a place of hierarchy. There are many – lesser – thrones and the one throne of God. This heavenly throne is at the centre from which flows fire  – a divine emanation  – and around the oneness of God are thousands upon thousands of those who serve, and even more thousands of thousands who attend/ worship God. These thousands are dwellers of the heavenly realm. It is in this place, this court that we see the one, like a human, to whom all power and dominion in earth – the place of peoples, nations and languages – is given. For us as Christian readers, this is Jesus, the anointed one, who is bringing together the dominions of earth and heaven. This relationship between the kingdoms and heaven and earth and the intertwining role of Jesus is also being explored in today’s reading from Revelation. 

It is good for us to be reminded that we are not the rulers of any of the kingdoms whether of earth or heaven. Rather we need to be ones who serve and and worship God.

Counting On …

Friday 12th November 2021

Who are we counting on to make a success of the COP26 conference? 

The biggest countries or the smallest? The richest or the poorest? Those with most to offer or those who are most vulnerable?

World leaders? Our politicians? Business leaders? Scientists? Investors and financiers? Charities and NGOs? Faith groups? Youth groups?

Ourselves? Ourselves alone or ourselves as communities?

Who is counting on the success of the conference in order to survive? Small islands? Indigenous peoples? The poor? The disadvantaged? Wildlife? Marine life? Plant life? Forests and woodlands? Glaciers and icecaps? Coral reefs? Alpine meadows? We in the developed countries? The comfortably middle class? Our children and grandchildren?

We are all linked as part of a finely balanced ecological network, where it is one for all and all for one. 

Do look back at past posts for ideas and thoughts about how we can be part of the solution, and do keep in touch as the Green Tau continues to address ecological issues. 

Climate March through London, 6th November 2021

Midday Prayers during COP26

Thursday 11th November 2021

Forgiving God, we recognise that we have avoided your call, 

shirked responsibilities and mis-stewarded your gifts to us.

God forgive us; 

Let your grace live within us

Sharing God; we have resisted expressing your life 

and bringing to birth your kin-dom.

God forgive us; 

Let your grace live within us

God who first loved us, 

help us to love others by forgiving. 

God forgive us; 

Let your grace live within us.

Amen.

(Adapted from https://ourcommonprayer.org/2021/09/07/wednesdays-in-climate-emergency/?relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=1824&relatedposts_position=0&relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=1824&relatedposts_position=0)

Reading: How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!  My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.  Even the sparrow finds a home,   and the swallow a nest for herself,   where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

On this the tenth day of COP26 the focus is on  cities and the built environment, so let us pray:- 

We pray for all the participants,

the decision-makers and the protestors,

the bureaucrats and the prayerful,

influencers and bankers,

for producers and consumers.

May we build better towns and cities,

with green spaces and earth-friendly structures,

with accessible infrastructure and good housing for all

with local decision-making

and communities at their heart.

Loving and patient God,

may your will be done.

All: Amen.


Stop the world!  

I want to get off!

I can’t cope with climate anxiety, 

with the knowledge that we are still 

polluting the atmosphere with CO2.

Stop the world!

I want to get off!

I can’t cope with the politics

that we continue to ignore –

that let the rich grow richer & the poor poorer.

Stop the world!

I want to get off!

I can’t cope with the cycle of hate and war,

with our conviction that being tough 

will bring peace and reconciliation. 

Stop the world!

I want to get off!

I can’t cope with the pursuit of profit 

that says ‘I’m worth it’

 whilst resolutely destroying our world.

Stop the world!

I want to get off!

I can’t cope with myopia 

that can’t see the spread of global suffering 

because we are safe in our wealth.

Eternal God,

Give me some hope to aim for, 

courage to continue,

and peace to regain strength.

Amen.

Counting On …

Thursday 11th November 2021

Greening our cities will make them better places both for humans and other living beings, flora and fauna. And it will address the climate crisis reducing our dependency of carbon polluting structures and carbon polluting lifestyle choices.

“Recent studies have highlighted the importance of boosting green urban areas and connecting fragments of green space with ecological corridors to improve biodiversity and animal species dispersal within the urban landscape. If adequately designed, green corridors can improve urban ventilation, allowing for cooler air from outside to penetrate into the more densely built areas, and reducing thus the urban heat island effect. Urban green areas can also have positive effects for human health and climate change adaptation. The capacity of vegetation to retain water is an important flood prevention feature that can reduce peak discharges.. 

[Where] patches of urban woodlands are generally separated from each other, [this]  affects the ability of many woodland species to disperse, or move among different locations with similar habitats. Ecological corridors or connections between urban woodlands, gardens or other green spaces are recognised as a way to limit the negative effects of fragmentation.”

https://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/metadata/adaptation-options/green-spaces-and-corridors-in-urban-areas

This concept is being developed in London, where there are already many parks and green corridors – the latter often following the course of the many small tributaries to the Thames. 

In July 2019 London because the world’s first National Urban Park. 45% of the city is green space which includes 3000 parks, 30,000 allotments, two national nature reserves a s 142 local nature reserves, 36 sites of special scientific interest and is home to about 13,000 different species of wildlife. London’s overall tree cover amounts to 21%  sufficient for it to be the world’s largest urban forest!  (The UN definition of a forest is anywhere with at least a 20% cover of trees.)

Midday Prayers During COP26

Saturday 6th November 2021

Compassionate God, you know our hearts and share our sorrows.

We are hurt by the despoiling of the living Earth, which we love.

We are angry at the loss we contemplate. 

We long for words of comfort, yet find them hard to hear.

Turn our grief to active love

Turn our anger to energy for repair of the world

Turn our guilt to solidarity

and by your forgiveness make us whole with all creation.

All: Amen

Andii Bowsher, Green Christians 

Reading: O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small. Psalm 104:24-25

On this the sixth day of COP26 the focus is on nature, so let us pray:- 

We pray for all the participants,

the decision-makers and the protestors,

the bureaucrats and the prayerful,

influencers and bankers,

shareholders and investors,

for producers and consumers.

May they recognise and be inspired

by the beauty and the necessity 

of the natural world, its seas and land,

its plants and creatures,

birds and insects

and micro-organisms.

May they value all that nature is, 

all that nature has been and can be,

and see within the ability of humankind 

to be destructive or constructive. 

Loving and patient God,

may your will be done.

All: Amen.

Hallowed be your name! (NB hallow is an older word that means holy)

Amongst the woods and forests,

between oaks and cedars,

God’s name is holy.

In the seas and oceans,

with whales and sea urchins,

God’s name is holy.

Across the moors and meadows,

with curlews and plovers,

God’s name is holy.

By riverbanks and streams,

following eels and kingfishers,

God’s name is holy .

High up on mountain peaks and glaciers,

sheltering in cwms and gullies,

God’s name is holy .

Gathered in barns and hives,

buzzing with bees and bats,

God’s name is holy .

Hidden under stones and snuck into crevices,

lying low with lizards and spiders,

God’s name is holy .

In all corners of the world

and where ever life exists,

God’s name is holy!

Amen

Counting On …

6th November 2021

Today’s agenda at COP26 features ‘nature’ by which one might mean the state of flora and fauna when it is un-damaged by the impact of humans. There are large parts of the world which are termed as nature but which nevertheless have been subject to human impact  where the impact has not been negative or destructive. Re-wilding projects give us some idea of what nature would look like without any human impact – and it is amazing! Sadly there are many more places – on both land and at sea – where vast areas of nature have been severely damaged by human impact. And if global temperatures continue to rise (a direct result from human activity) those areas of damage  will only grow. Yet throughout history humans have been awed and inspired by nature, and at different times and in different ways, appreciated its value. And now we realising the multi faceted value of nature to our well being.

Green and blue spaces are good for our mental and physical health, as places of calm and relaxation, places for exercise, and as places of stimulus. 

From rain forests to peat bogs, oak trees to whales, we now better understand how nature provides the lungs for the planet absorbing and storing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. 

At the same time, many constituent parts of nature remove and absorb pollution, be that particulates produced by motor vehicles or by products of sewage and other waste.

Plants can be key ingredients in shaping localised climates creating more congenial living conditions.

Nature is ultimately the source of what we eat, as well as  providing medicines and health treatments. It is also the source of jobs – in farming, tourism and manufacturing.  

Mangroves like their land coastal and their water salty. This tree and shrub family is adapted to spend their lives between land and saltwater, sometimes growing up to 200 feet tall in the process. Mangroves can have their roots in shallow, salty water because they are also exposed to air for part of the day. Their roots use this time above water to sequester oxygen for when they’re submerged. Mangrove roots create some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth, as their intertwined structure provides habitat for sessile creatures like barnacles and creates protective nurseries for juvenile fish. Mangrove roots provide more than habitat though: they trap sediment to stabilise coasts, and bio-filtrate nutrients and pollutants out of the water. These ecosystems are massive carbon sinks, taking in and storing excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and water—an important attribute in the face of climate change. By Jessica Knoth, Marine Conservation Institute Communications Intern

Midday Prayers during COP26

Tuesday

We come with faith: 

and we seek understanding.

We come with doubts: 

and we seek understanding.

We come with griefs: 

and we seek understanding.

Pause 

Equip us and strengthen us 

To lean into the flourishing of life on earth. 

Knowing we are enmeshed in the harming of your creation, 

Redeem our failures and bind up the wounds of past mistakes.

Pause 

Rework our anger as energy for repair of the world 

Refashion our guilt as active love. 

And for all this, nature is never spent; 

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; *

Wherever we will tread is crammed with heaven 

And every common bush afire with God.**

(with acknowledgements to *Gerard Manley Hopkins,** Elizabeth Barret Browning;https://ourcommonprayer.org/2021/05/06/climate-emergency/)

Reading: Therefore the LORD God sent them out of the Garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which they were taken. After sending them out, the LORD God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And the Lord God placed a sword of flame that turned back and forth to protect the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3: 23-24

On this the second full day of discussions and decision-making at COP26, let us pray:- 

We pray for all the participants,

the decision-makers and the protestors,

the bureaucrats and the prayerful.

May they recognise and understand 

the interconnectedness of creation, 

the fine balance of ecosystems,

the necessity of biodiversity 

and our dependence on safe carbon levels.

We pray for scientists and environmentalists

whose skills sustain and protect 

the long-term well being 

of our environment, our lives, our world.

Loving and patient God,

may your will be done.

All: Amen.

Painted lady and bumble bee

damsel and  dragon fly: 

their lives praise you, holy God.

Wood mouse and pipistrelle bat,

urban fox and badger:

their lives praise you, holy God.

Buttercup and toadflax, 

cat’s ear and pimpernel:

their lives praise you, holy God.

Girdled snail and leopard slug, 

shield beetle and earwig:

their lives praise you, holy God.

Copper beech and sessile oak, 

black poplar and mountain ash: 

their lives praise you, holy God.

Yaffle and mistle thrush,

jackdaw and sparrow:

their lives praise you, holy God.

But we humans – blinkered and wasteful, 

short-sighted and careless –

do our lives praise you, holy God?

Renew us, your people;

pardon our failings

and bless our strivings 

that our lives may praise you.

Amen. 

Counting On …

As participants meet, discuss, negotiate and take action at COP26, what is at stake is the wellbeing of the amazing ecosystem in which we live. Caring for and improving biodiversity is essential. So many of the earth’s ecosystems can protect us from the adverse effects of climate change, and yet they are so vulnerable to damage from human activity!

Pray for, and support, action to enhance global biodiversity.

Seagrass, the only flowering marine plant, grows in the shallower waters of our seas and oceans as it is reliant on sunlight for photosynthesis. Where it is well established it forms meadows where its roots stabilises sediment on the seabed preventing erosion. Its roots also oxygenate the sediments supporting many burrowing organisms. As it grows it sequesters carbon dioxide and does so at rates 10 to 40 higher than that of forests! It provides food, breeding grounds and nurseries for many marine species – from seahorses to seals, dog fish and octopus.

However world wide seagrasses are under threat. These marine meadows are damaged and destroyed by sewage and chemical effluents, by algal blooms that restrict sunlight penetrating the water and so preventing photosynthesis, by mechanical damage from anchor chains, marine vessels, and dredging as well as from over-fishing which disturbs the balance of the ecosystem. It is estimated that the UK has lost 95% of its seagrass meadows. Restoration projects are in progress in Swansea Bay, Dale Bay Pembrokeshire, in the Solent and off Skye – but they are still very small in scale.

Bug Hotel

Caring for our future is about caring for all different sorts of creatures. We are continually learning how important so many large and small creatures are for keeping the environment healthy – be that worms who keep the soil fertile, ladybirds that keep aphids under control, ants that eat parasites, geese that stop lakes silting up, pigs that loosen and fertiliser soil under trees.

Today’s project is making a bug hotel. It is a place where small beetles and insects can overwinter ready to resume their activities in the spring. For this you will need a tin.

Using a skewer make two holds at top and bottom on one side of the tin. You might like adult help. 

Thread a paper clip through each of the holes.  

Collect from your garden bits of dead twigs and plant stalks. Choose ones of different thicknesses. Cut these into equal lengths, just  long enough to stand upright in the tin.

Dear Dear

Fill the tin with these twigs and stalks. Ensure they are well packed so that none can fall out. The little gaps will provide the hiding places that insects seek.  

Take a piece of string and thread it through the paper clips and tie the ends together. Hang the bug hotel outside in your garden. Find somewhere sheltered from the wind and rain so that your bug hotel won’t become flooded or blown away in a storm.