Counting on …day  309

15th September 2022

As we prepare for the colder months ahead, it is good to think about wildlife too. Why not make a bug hotel as a warm, safe place for overwintering insects. 

https://greentau.org/2021/10/25/bug-hotel/ or for one on a larger scale try – https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/nature-on-your-doorstep/garden-activities/build-a-bug-hotel/

 Prayers for Creation 

Friday 29th July 2022

God hates cheating in the marketplace; rigged scales are an outrage. Proverbs 20:23 (The Message)

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 Leviticus 25:3 – 7 

For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound labourers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.

God, who planted the Garden of Eden 

with good things to eat, and caused the earth to bring forth green shoots:

We praise you.

God, who caused rivers to flow, 

who sent rains in due season,  and filled the seas with life:

We praise you.

God, who modelled Adam to be a gardener, 

who modelled the creatures in diverse kinds, each as helpers and Eve as co- partner:

We praise you. 

God, you created a world 

which can offer all that is needed, and give each being, plant and creature, a place to belong:

We praise you.

And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘See, I am setting a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel”. Amos 7:8

Generous God,

we have overworked the soil and drained it of its nutrients; 

we have covered vast swathes in tarmac, and have covered our gardens with plastic lawns.

We consume more than we give back, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God,

we have decimated the forests, and grubbed up hedgerows, 

we have wiped out diversity and favoured monocultures.

We have taken and not put back, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God, 

we have poisoned the waterways and flooded  them with sewage, 

we have drained lakes and rivers to water our crops.

We have ignored what happens downstream, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God, 

We have dredged the seas and overfished the oceans. 

We have over consumed fossil fuels, melting icecaps and inundating islands.

We have ignored the science, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God, 

we hunted some creatures to extinction, and pushed others to the margins;

we have destroyed their homes, and taken away their food.

We have despised them as co-habitants, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God, 

we have demonised our fellow humans, and used them as slaves; 

we have taken their wealth and left them to starve.

We have spent more on war than on peace, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy. 

Open our eyes to see the error of our ways. 

Open our hearts to overflow with love.

Open our hands to be generous in sharing. 

May we act justly and  love mercy and  walk humbly with you our God.

Amen. 

 Counting on ….day 253

22nd July 2022

Whilst we may not be directly able to aid wild birds affected by avian flu -and which is devastating seabird colonies – we can help protect our garden birds from disease by ensuring we regularly clean birdbath and feeders. 

 Counting on … day 252

21st July 2022

For those of us with outdoor spaces and gardens, there is much we can do to help support biodiversity. Like us, wildlife too needs help to cope with the extremes of weather – see the link below. 

I have also noticed many shops and houses putting out bowls of water for passing dogs.

The Green Tau: issue 44

An addendum to Sunday’s reflection

On Sunday (17th July) with a focus on the environment, we looked at the plight of five creatures threatened by our human lifestyle choices. And it is not just these creatures whose futures are threatened but ours too as we all part of one interconnected ecosystem.

What action can we take to change these prospects?

“Orang-utans live in great tropical forests. They depend upon the forests for food and shelter, as a well as a  place to live and to play. But the forests where they live are being chopped down and cleared away to make space for acres and acres of palm oil plantations to make lipsticks and margarine, shampoo and pet food, sunscreen and bio diesel. When the forests go, the orang-utans have no where else to live. It seems as if we are saying to the orang-utans ‘Go away you don’t belong here’.”

By carefully choosing what we do and don’t buy we can reduce the pressure on forests such as those where orang-utans live. We can avoid products that use palm oil or we can seek out producers who follow a code of conduct that requires them to protect indigenous wild life and farming communities.

It takes a bit of effort but research via the internet and especially using web sites created by ethical and environmental groups such as The Ethical Consumer and the Fair Trade movement can gives us the information we need to make better choices. We may conclude that some of things we have been buying are not really essential and that buying less is another way of taking action. We can also investigate the sourcing of other crops such as cocoa, sugar cane and soya which can be equally detrimental to the environment. NB the vast expansion of soya beans as a crop goes not to create soya milk, but as fodder for the world’s escalating meat farms.

“Polar bears live in the Arctic where they go hunting across the ice. They dive into cracks and holes in the ice to catch fish and seals. But climate change is making the world hotter and the ice is melting. Without the ice the polar bears cannot hunt fish and seals. Instead they and their cubs starve. It seems as if we are saying to the polar bears, ‘If you can’t cope with climate change and melting ice caps, then we don’t need you.’”

“Sand martins spend the winters in Africa and the summers in Europe. In the spring they fly thousands of miles across the Sahara to Britain and in the autumn they fly the same thousands of miles back. But climate change is making the world hotter and when they fly over the Sahara Desert, the air is so hot that many martins simply cannot cope and they fall to the ground. It seems as if we are saying to the sand martin ‘If you can’t cope with climate change, then there’s no place here for you any more.’”

The climate crisis is rapidly increasing and is causing and exacerbating many other problems. We can each take action by changing our lifestyle to reduce our carbon footprint. There are many books and web sites on ways and means. The principal areas of change we can make in our individual lives are in Transport: not flying, rescuing significantly our dependence on cars and instead using public transport, cycling and walking. 

Food: eating locally produced, seasonal, organic food, and replacing meat with plant based meals

Heat and electricity: reducing demand by insulating our homes (which also helps keep them cool in the summer) and turning down the thermostat, using renewal sources of energy,  reducing the frequency with which we wash ourselves and our clothes, and reducing our dependence on so many high energy consuming appliances

Consumption: the things we buy and consume all have a carbon footprint. We can consume less including  less packaging, we can repair and reuse what we do have, when we do buy new we can seek out things that are ecologically and ethically made, and we can make sure that everything is recycled at the end of its lifecycle.

But we won’t be able to make the necessary reduction in carbon emissions on our own. We are locked into systems that make it impossible – rail travel  is made more expensive than air travel through taxation, regions outside London and especially rural areas are inadequately provided with public transport, people’s incomes are often too low to allow for investment in insulation and home improvements that would reduce energy costs, large fossil fuel companies across the globe continue receive tax subsidies, manufacturers are not required to pay for the cost of collecting and recycling their products, the true  value of nature is not included in investment decisions, our pensions fund  not only fossil fuel investment but also the destruction of forests for palm oil and soya crops … the list goes on. We need to engage with and support environmental groups that call for system change.

“Around the world in different oceans live whales. Whales get caught up in fishing tackle and crashed into by shipping. They are disoriented by noise from oil exploration. Every year fewer and fewer whales are born. It is as if we are saying to the whales, ‘Go away, we don’t need you’.”

But we do need whales! They are amazing creatures. In the oceans there tiny tiny things called phytoplankton that, like leaves on trees, convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into oxygen and energy. And phytoplankton provide food for slightly bigger plankton and the plankton provides food for all manner of other sea creatures – including whales. But there is one thing that phytoplankton needs and that is iron. And do you know where that iron comes from? Whale poo! If oceans are to remain healthy with phytoplankton providing oxygen and energy for plankton and seaweed, and  fish and other sea animals, then we need  whales.”

“What about bees? Bees live in lots of different parts of the world feeding on nectar from plants. But we have been getting rid of wild plants and hedgerows, and spraying fields with herbicides so that there is not enough food for the bees. And we have been spraying crops with pesticides that kill not just the ‘pests’ but the bees too. Every year there are fewer and fewer bees. It is as if we are saying to the bee, ‘Go away, we don’t need you.’ 

But we do need bees. Without bees to fertilise crops we won’t have apples and pears, or strawberries and cherries, or figs and kiwi fruits, or almonds, avocados, mangos …. the list goes on and on.”

The loss of biodiversity is immense and accelerating. We can support biodiversity locally by the way we use our gardens, growing wild life friendly plants, providing food and water  for birds and insects, by avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides and peat.  We can help by supporting local and international organisations that protect and conserve biodiversity. And as above, we can use our spending money to influence change.

Saving the environment is a numbers game, so talk about the actions you take with friends and family, with shopkeepers and suppliers, with local councillors and MPs, and encourage them to take action too.

Environment Sunday 

17th July 2022

Our church is dedicating this Sunday to the Environment as well as holding baptisms. 

Readings 1 Corinthians 12. 12-27 (The Message)

Each of us is now a part of Christ’s resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, transparent and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it

makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honour just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair? The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other

part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body— that’s who you are! You must never forget this.

Gospel Reading – John 4.13-14

Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’

Collect

Loving God, by whose great generosity we are granted the gift of life, so breathe on the spark of your presence within us, that we

 burn with a flame of love that banishes our fear, and lights up the world around us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Light and life of the World. Amen.

Talk 

Baptism services remind us that we are all one community, one body in Christ. No one can say to someone else you don’t belong here, or go away, we don’t need you. We are all equal and important and necessary just as we are.

Today I want us to think about the world. 

Lots of people and lots of birds and animals, fish and insects and creepy crawlies and the list goes on –  live here.

What can you see?

A polar bear.   A sand martin.   An orang-utan.  A bee.   And a whale.

Orang-utans live in great tropical forests. They depend upon the forests for food and shelter, as a well as a  place to live and to play. But the forests where they live are being chopped down and cleared away to make space for acres and acres of palm oil plantations to make lipsticks and margerine, shampoo and pet food, sunscreen and bio diesel. When the forests go, the orang-utans have no where else to live. It seems as if we are saying to the orang-utans ‘Go away you don’t belong here’.

Polar bears live in the Arctic where they go hunting across the ice. They dive into cracks and holes in the ice to catch fish and seals. But climate change is making the world hotter and the ice is melting. Without the ice the polar bears cannot hung fish and seals. Instead they and their cubs starve. It seems as if we are saying to the polar bears, ‘If you can’t cope with climate change and melting ice caps, then we don’t need you.’

Sand martins spend the winters in Africa and the summers in Europe. In the spring they fly thousands of miles across the Sahara to Britain and in the autumn they fly the same thousands of miles back. But climate change is making the world hotter and when they fly over the Sahara Desert, the air is so hot that many martins simply cannot cope and they fall to the ground. It seems as if we are saying to the sand martin ‘If you can’t cope with climate change, then there’s no place here for you any more.’

Around the world in different oceans live whales. Whales get caught up in fishing tackle and crashed into by shipping. They are disoriented by noise from oil exploration. Every year fewer and fewer whales are born. It is as if we are saying to the whales, ‘Go away, we don’t need you’.  

But we do need whales! They are amazing creatures. In the oceans there tiny tiny things called phytoplankton that, like leaves on trees, convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into oxygen and energy. And phytoplankton provide food for slightly bigger plankton and the plankton provides food for all manner of other sea creatures – including whales. But there is one thing that phytoplankton needs and that is iron. And do you know where that iron comes from? Whale poo! If oceans are to remain healthy with phytoplankton providing oxygen and energy for plankton and seaweed, and  fish and other sea animals, then we need  whales.

What about bees? Bees live in lots of different parts of the world feeding on nectar from plants. But we have been getting rid of wild plants and hedgerows, and spraying fields with herbicides so that there is not enough food for the bees. And we have been spraying crops with pesticides that kill not just the ‘pests’ but the bees too. Every year there are fewer and fewer bees. It is as if we are saying to the bee, ‘Go away, we don’t need you.’ 

But we do need bees. Without bees to fertilise crops we won’t have apples and pears, or strawberries and cherries, or figs and kiwi fruits, or almonds, avocados, mangos …. the list goes on and on. 

If we are not going to say to bees and whales, to orang-utans and polar bears, to sand martins and to so many other amazing creatures – we don’t need you, you’re not part of our world, then we have to change the way we live. We are one body, we are one world.

Prayers

Take a look at your left foot. Think about people who cannot move freely, perhaps because of illness or disability; perhaps because of imprisonment; perhaps because they are women. Think too of animals that cannot move freely. May they be treated with compassion. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Now look at your other foot. Think about people who are having to flee from danger: from war and fighting,  from oppression and prejudice, from poverty, from floods , from wild fires, and from hunger. Think too of wildlife that is being forced out of its natural habitat. May they be protected and welcomed. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Now look at your hands. Think about people who use their hands to stack supermarket shelves, sew clothes, pick fruit and vegetables – especially those in poor working conditions. Think about people who use their hands to care for others:  cleaners, nurses, care workers. Think of those who use their hands to care for the environment. May they all be treated fairly, may they be valued and supported. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Now think of your bottom. Think of times when it is easier to sit back and do nothing, times when it is easier not to stand up for those in need: people in our own country who have to rely on food banks; people  in North Africa facing hunger as wheat prices rise; seabird colonies facing extinction because of bird flu, the world as it struggles with the climate crisis. Give us courage to act for we are all body. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Now think of your heart: think of all those you love and all who love you. We pray for those in need of healing and comfort: Angela Robinson, Jeane Dunsford, Alban Clarke, Joy Clarke, Lawrence Bell-Wright

We remember those who died recently: Pat West, Iris Lofting, Isabel Howlett, Hazel Acus, Anne Lawry, Peter Rivett.

and those who have died in past years: David Brown, Derek Marshall

Unite us all in your love.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Lastly try and look at the end of your nose. Think of those things which are hard to see, those things we would rather not see, those situations we would rather overlook: poverty, injustice, homelessness, hate, prejudice. Give us wisdom to understand ourselves and the world in which we live and to tend to its needs. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Merciful creator and Father

 accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. 

 Counting on … day 247

16th July 2022

Also on the nature front, Friends of the Earth are asking us to ‘notice nature in the everyday’.

Whilst at the gym I spotted a dozen (each) sparrows, starlings and jackdaws, 3 parakeets, a goldfinch, a blue tit, a magpie and a kestrel!

Counting on …day 232 

3rd July 2022

The Woodland Trust is petitioning governments across the UK to protect ancient trees. Do sign! Increasing biodiversity is as much about maintaining what we have as it is about rewilding. Ancient trees support a huge number of different animals, birds, insects, and micro-organisms. They are also historic landmarks that are just as important as historic buildings.