Counting on… day 375

11th November 2022

On the agenda at COP27 today is the subject of decarbonisation. Today’s Guardian reports “Carbon emissions from fossil fuels will hit record levels this year, according to a comprehensive analysis. The finding represents a brutal contrast with the need to cut emissions by half by 2030 to restrict global heating to 1.5C and avoid the most devastating impacts of the climate crisis. The analysis by the Global Carbon Project (GCP) uses multiple streams of data from the year to date to estimate emissions for 2022. It found fossil fuel related CO2 is on course to rise by 1% to 36.6bn tonnes, the highest ever. More burning of oil products is the biggest contributor, mostly because of the continuing rebound of international aviation after the pandemic.”

How long O Lord? 

How  many heat waves?

How many droughts?

How many floods?

How many lost coast lines?

How many before we admit our error?

Before we recognise the crisis?

How many lost penguins?

How many missing polar bears?

How many extinct butterflies?

How many disappearing swifts?

How many before we admit our error?

Before we recognise the crisis?

How many car journeys?

How many air miles? 

How many beef steaks?

How many tonnes of cement?

How many before we admit our error?

Before we recognise the crisis.

Creator God, we admit our error

and recognise the crises we have caused. 

Grant us the wisdom and determination to make amends:

To change the way we live,

To change the way we see things,

To have care for the future.

Amen.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

15th May 2022

Acts 11:1-18

Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticised him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, `Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, `By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, `What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, `Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, `John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

Psalm 148

1 Hallelujah!
Praise the Lord from the heavens; *
praise him in the heights.

2 Praise him, all you angels of his; *
praise him, all his host.

3 Praise him, sun and moon; *
praise him, all you shining stars.

4 Praise him, heaven of heavens, *
and you waters above the heavens.

5 Let them praise the Name of the Lord; *
for he commanded, and they were created.

6 He made them stand fast for ever and ever; *
he gave them a law which shall not pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth, *
you sea-monsters and all deeps;

8 Fire and hail, snow and fog, *
tempestuous wind, doing his will;

9 Mountains and all hills, *
fruit trees and all cedars;

10 Wild beasts and all cattle, *
creeping things and winged birds;

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, *
princes and all rulers of the world;

12 Young men and maidens, *
old and young together.

13 Let them praise the Name of the Lord, *
for his Name only is exalted,
his splendour is over earth and heaven.

14 He has raised up strength for his people
and praise for all his loyal servants, *
the children of Israel, a people who are near him.
Hallelujah!

Revelation 21:1-6

I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

John 13:31-35

At the last supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Reflection 

The reading from Acts describes how Peter had to completely change his understanding of God and the world. All the principles and practices on which he had based his relationship with God, all that bound him as a member of the Jewish community, were being challenged. Perhaps one might even say, undermined. No longer was there a code that distinguished between what one should or should not eat – and by extension how one should shop, how and with whom one should dine; perhaps even who one should invite into your home. No longer was there exclusivity in being one of God’s people. No longer was there a them and us. 

And yet not everyone understood that this was God’s way. Not everyone understood that what God had achieved through Jesus Christ, the salvation that had been wrought, was for anyone and everyone with no restrictions. The challenge Peter is facing in this passage is not just that of coming to terms with the turning upside down of his religion, but also of having to explain this to his contemporaries –  most of whom did not see it the way he did. Did Peter feel perhaps as many of us feel about the climate crisis? Did he struggle to work out how he could explain to his contemporaries that everything was changing, that the rules were going to be different, that how people went about their daily lives was going to have to change, that sticking with the old ways, the traditional ways was not going to help? 

For the Christian climate activist the challenge is how to persuade people that the climate crisis is real and pressing, that we cannot continue with our old lifestyles and expect to cope, that we cannot ignore the plight of the vulnerable – those affected by rising food prices and or starvation, those affected by droughts and floods, wild fires and heat waves – and that we must make our voices heard when governments and big businesses pursue policies that increase their vulnerability. Like Peter, we have to find a way of winning over hearts and minds in persuading people to accept the new situation in which we find ourselves. We have to speak eloquently and calmly, yet with determination. 

If the reading from Acts is telling us that God is the God of both Jew and Gentile, then today’s psalm is telling us that God is the God not just of people but of all that lives and moves and – even – just exists in creation. We are all of God’s making, are all valued, and are all called to praise God. The reading from Revelation presents us with the hope of a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth will have passed away. Are we to expect this physical earth to be replaced with a new physical earth? Or is it that we are to expect the first way in which the earth existed will be replaced with a new way of doing things? Maybe as a hotel might be re-created or re-formed under a new management?Just as Peter was invited to see his old world of kosher and non-kosher practices as having passed away and replaced with a new world diversity and inclusivity? Is this new order not what climate activists are hoping for? A new earth in which all of creation is respected and cared for in ways which God desires?

‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another’ says Jesus. We are called to follow Jesus’s example, his at pattern of living – for that is the way by which a new earth and a new heaven will come into being. As Peter experienced, following a new way means leaving behind the old way, allowing that first earth to pass away. Letting go of the past is not easy; it can feel like stepping into the unknown. But we are not alone, we are not without an example to follow, we are not without God”s presence to both heal and strengthen us. 

 Counting on … day 155

17th April 2022

Christ is risen! Happy Easter! 

The resurrection is God’s promise of Life. 

Last night I had a lovely surprise – a little tap on the kitchen door and Heidi popped her head round. She had come home after three weeks protesting with Just Stop Oil. I wasn’t expecting her until maybe mid week. It was such a wonderful feeling of joy and love – a small taste of the feelings that the disciples must have felt when Jesus returned to them. 

When Adam and Eve went against God’s wishes in the Garden of Eden, God rather than confiscating their lives, allowed them to live but thereafter they had to live with the hardships that their actions had produced. The  resurrection is God’s assurance of the continuation of Life – it does not exempt us from having to live with the damage we have caused, but surely today of all days must give us the impetus to want to transform how we live, to heal the injuries we have caused, to live according to God’s will in loving harmony with all our fellow beings. 

The urgency of the climate crisis is such that globally we need to cut our emissions by about 50% over the next 8 (just EIGHT!) years and to zero by 2050. Halving emissions in 8 years is not compatible with expanding oil and gas production, is not compatible with policies that do not swop gas boilers for passive haus insulation levels,  petrol cars for enhanced public transport and active travel, industrial farming for regenerative agriculture. 

Do make changes in your lifestyle. Do press the government and businesses for systemic change. Do stand up for climate protestors and for the victims of the climate crisis.

Sunday Reflection

22nd August 2021 – Proper 16: Joshua 24:1-2a,14-18, Psalm 34:15-22, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69

 

The passage from Joshua comes towards the end of the book and towards the end of Joshua’s own life. The Israelites have settled in the promised land, each tribe in its own territory and peace has been established. Joshua calls together all the tribes and their leaders for one last exhortation that they live according to the ways ordained by God. It is as if they are again standing for the first time on the threshold of a new land, on the threshold of a new life. They are enjoined to leave behind old ways of living, old gods and old allegiances.  

Do we need to reimagine ourselves as being on the threshold of a new beginning, a new of life? Is this how we should be approaching the COP26 climate conference? Then nations and NGOs, communities and other parties, will gather to make agreements about new ways of living in a carbon neutral world, to affirm ways of ensuring worldwide biodiversity, setting up funds to enable everyone to be part of the new future. We will all need to stand alongside one another as let go of old ways of doing things, as we leave behind of old habits, and forsake our reliance on fossil fuels. 

If so should we not now be reassessing our lives, preparing how we can make and sustain the necessary changes we must make, and encouraging and supporting each other, and above all celebrating with joy our new greener, cleaner, kinder future?

May God bless our endeavours – for “The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them and delivers them from all their troubles.”

I would not wish to say that the current climate crisis is either the work of God or the work of the ‘devil’. The world God has created is beautiful and complex. It is a world in which things evolve and continue to re create in new and diverse forms. It is a world in which cause and consequence exist. It is a world which is continuing to develop over time. It is a world in which God has created humankind as a being with intelligence, imagination, determination, and with an awareness of right and wrong. It is a being with unique skills and possibilities, and it is a being which can choose to have an affinity with God. 

Depending how we use these attributes, we are capable of doing great good or of doing great harm. When we – and/ or others – are not in tune with God, our actions can become so mired in greed, dishonesty, hatred, apathy, and prejudice, we can describe our situation as being evil and bedevilled. We can feel as if we are struggling with forces or powers beyond our comprehension. Perhaps this is when we need to put on the armour of God, to refurnish our lives with the gifts of God, to be open to God in prayer and to be constant in seeking channels through which God’s Spirit can flow. 

If this seems hard to grasp, we need to recall the words of Simon Peter, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”