Counting on …day 264 

2nd August 2022

As plants shrivel and trees prematurely drop their leaves, we are seeing the damaging effects of climate change on our own environment. Periods of drought and heat waves are going to be an ongoing feature of daily life and something we need now to plan for. In our gardens it may be looking to see which plants are still surviving and which are suffering so that we know what to plant in the future. As we eke out water for our plants, it may be in setting up systems to collect grey water – even a bucket by the sink into which to our used washing up water. It may be in installing more water butts to,collect more water when it does rain. The  Mains to Rains project has more helpful suggestions – https://mains2rains.uk/

Prayers for Creation 

Friday 10th June 2022

Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and not we are ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

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: In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

Genesis 2: 4b-9, 15-17

We do not presume to walk on this earth,

O merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much
as to gather up the leftover grains 

nor glean the fruits fallen from your trees –
But you are the same Lord,
whose property is always to have mercy:
Grant us therefore, gracious Lord,
so to live where you plant us, 

that we may work in harmony with nature 

and  share your rich harvest with all. 

Amen 

Thank you God for trees and fruit, herbs and grasses

Forgive us when through greed and thoughtlessness, 

we have cut down forests and burnt the scrub, 

when we have prioritised monoculture and marginalised diversity, 

when we have drained rivers and aquifers 

favouring cash crops over native plants. 

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Thank you God for birds of the air, 

the creatures of the land and the fish of the sea.

Forgive us when through greed and thoughtlessness, 

we have promoted our own livestock and made refugees of  the native wildlife, 

when we enlarged  our own living space and made other creatures homeless.

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Thank you God for soil and water and the fresh air we breathe. 

Forgive us when through greed and thoughtlessness 

we take from the soil but do not give back, 

when we pollute the waters with waste we do not want, 

when we fill the air with an excess of greenhouse gases.

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Thank you God for our brothers and sisters, our kith and kin

Forgive us when through greed and thoughtlessness 

we rob them of their livelihoods, 

when we divert their wealth into our pockets, 

when we ignore their pleas for help.

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Lord God, as you made us in your image, that we might live with you

and as your Son took on our form that he might live among us, 

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Amen.

Day 23:  all change!

Change is an inevitable part of life, but sometimes that change can be completely radical – a new direction of travel – requiring  new ways of doing things, seeing things and of understanding. That was the case for Mary and Joseph, for the magi, perhaps even for the shepherds. It was certainly so for the disciples who first followed Jesus. It was certainly so for St Paul. And I am sure it is – or is to be – so for us. 

The LORD said to Abram: Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1 

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:20-21,24 

And when they had brought their boats ashore, they left everything and followed Him. Luke 5:11

Counting On …. Day 9

22nd November 2021

Eco Church recommends creating a communal Christmas card scheme. Rather than each person sending a card to everyone else, individuals write one Christmas card to everyone! This is then posted on a communal notice board in church.

From the Wallingford Benefice notices: “ Christmas Card Scheme – A big thank you for your positive response to our communal Christmas card scheme this year. There were over 40 cards sent in total and displayed in the nave of St Mary’s, the ringing chamber and choir vestry. Assuming each person who took part would have sent 15 cards this means we have saved in the region of 600 cards! A great result for our environment. Would anybody like to reuse the Christmas cards and create gift tags for next year? Or perhaps you can think of a more creative ‘reuse’ option for our communal Christmas cards!”

Eco Tips

Sustaining local biodiversity  

Whilst urban areas are less biodiversity than wild areas, they do offer a

surprising range of different habitats and particularly in relation to parks and gardens, a diverse range of trees and flowering plants. This can be very beneficial for insects and species reliant on them. Whether we have a garden, a balcony or just a window sill, we can add to the biodiversity of where we live.

  • Opt for a selection of plants that ensures that throughout the seasons something is in bloom – this is beneficial for insects, such as bumble bees, that do not hibernate.
  • Avoid using pesticides. By their nature they are poisonous to some creatures and may well be killing off a food supply which something else needs. Without aphids, lady birds can starve. Ditto caterpillars and small birds.
  • Don’t buy or use peat: depleting peat bogs both depletes the biodiversity of another habitat, it also destroys a highly effective carbon store.
  • Again if you have space, why not install a green roof?
  • Plant a tree/ trees or a hedge. These provide a whole range of habitats for different insects, birds and other creatures.
  • If you haven’t got a garden, see if you can give any support for your local park or green space. Some will have programmes for volunteers. 
  • Or consider supporting a wildlife charity such as the Woodland Trust, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, or your local Wildlife Trust.
  • Visit parks and gardens that support biodiversity and be inspired. Or visit a Rewilding project. 

Falling in Love 15


A woodland path in the Yorkshire Dales, spring time. What can be more relaxing than to wander beneath a lacy canopy of lime green leaves, over a carpet of dappled shade and bluebells? Weather worn stones and ageing tree trunks alongside fresh grass and spring growth: both old and new are intrinsically part of life.

The world around us is full of curious, beautiful and amazing things. As small children our curiosity and our amazement knew no bounds. Every day would produce novelties- things to see, things to chew or eat, things to grab and hold, things to poke and explore. 

As we have grow older we have often lost that sense of wonder. Things that were new have become mundane. In the rush to be busy, small things flop below the radar. Decorum dictates that we shouldn’t prod or lick things and, unless we’re wine tasters, swirling stuff around our mouth and spitting are frowned upon. Stopping suddenly just to look is discouraged – it interrupts the flow of traffic. Daily routines take over. 

And our love for the world wains and falters. 

The season of creation-tide runs from 1st September till 4th October, the Feast of St Francis. Let’s fall in love again with creation. 

Falling in Love 12

This is probably a buff-tailed bumblebee. These are sociable bees. Each year a new queen is hatched and she alone will sit out the winter. She will be one of the large bumblebees we see seeking out winter flowering plants such as mahonia and crocuses. In the spring she will feed up on pollen and nectar such that she has the renewed strength to begin a new, small, colony. Initially the larvae will develop as female workers but as the summer progresses some will emerge as males. One will successfully mate and so the cycle will begin again. 

Such persistence!

The world around us is full of curious, beautiful and amazing things. As small children our curiosity and our amazement knew no bounds. Every day would produce novelties- things to see, things to chew or eat, things to grab and hold, things to poke and explore. 

As we have grow older we have often lost that sense of wonder. Things that were new have become mundane. In the rush to be busy, small things flop below the radar. Decorum dictates that we shouldn’t prod or lick things and, unless we’re wine tasters, swirling stuff around our mouth and spitting are frowned upon. Stopping suddenly just to look is discouraged – it interrupts the flow of traffic. Daily routines take over. 

And our love for the world wains and falters. 

The season of creation-tide runs from 1st September till 4th October, the Feast of St Francis. Let’s fall in love again with creation. 

Green Tau Reflection

Life choices that bring blessings 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;  and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42

The above comes from the Beatitudes: Jesus’s teaching to the crowds on the approach to life that would bring its own blessings. 

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth sounds very mercenary. A contractual arrangement in which neither side looses out. A fair’s fair deal that leaves no space for argument not for generosity. It has the feel of a fixed price market. Anyone who tried to pay more than the asking price would be a fool. Yet Jesus invites the listener to be that fool. To pay more than the asking price. To give more that is required or demanded. To act in a way that undermines the normal way of doing business. It is a radical counter-cultural way of being that will bring its own blessings.

In the world of the climate crisis, old ways of doing things will have to change, old traditions and  old  norms will be replaced by new ways. Heating homes with gas will be history; the supermarket run in the car and the lift to school will disappear; holidays won’t start at the airport; strawberries will be a treat for the summer not Christmas.

Change like this can be hard to accept. After a life time in which cars have become the default means of transport, it is hard to rethink in terms of walking times. After a life time in which air travel has become part and parcel of the holiday package, it is hard to rethink in terms of trains and local destinations. After a life time in which seasonal food describes food linked to sporting/ social events, it is hard to re shape our eating round a annual cycle of what is currently in peak production: raspberries in June, plums in August, avocados in February. 

Change can be expensive as new practices, new products are scaled up and developed. The bonus of economies of scale take time to kick in, the benefits of lower energy bills will be felt gradually over the years whilst the initial cost of new equipment – heaters, electric cars, solar panels – may be steep.  

Following Jesus’s teaching, we can become trend setters, living a new lifestyle, adopting ways that will curb GHG emissions and restrain the climate crisis. We can lead by example and do things that are not the norm, that are not (yet) fashionable. We can choose to walk or cycle that bit further than usual rather than going by car. We can refuse to buy the plastic wrapped fruit or sandwich. We can explore the UK rather than the world. We can decline avocados in summer and strawberries in winter. 

Those of us with money can invest in carbon neutral technology, we can buy the eco friendly products and services, and we can do so generously, supporting producers as well as the climate. Train travel can be more expensive that going by car or plane, but we can choose the climate friendly option. Organic food may be more costly – now – but we can choose it over cheaper products that are less environmentally friendly.

Jesus asks that when we choose how to live, that we choose to think of the needs of others and be ready to meet their needs first. The results? A transformed world!

If …

Soil Plant Hands Growth Environment Nature Dirt

If we are called us to beat swords into plough shares,  

we are also called to turn military jobs into green ones.

If we seek to establish peace,

we must generously offer both love and practical gifts. 

If we shift from passive to active travel, from cars to cycles,

we shall need cycle paths and secure shelters.

If we replace petrol engines with electric motors, 

we must also turn petrol stations into recharging points.

If we swop meats for a vegan diet, 

we must also turn beef farms into arable farms,

sheep fells into woodlands,

dairies into nut fromageries.

If we switch to green electricity,

our pension funds must invest in renewable energy.

If we green our pensions, 

surely we will green our banks too.

Creator God, help us to see the changes we must make,

Give us the wisdom to support them, 

the energy to achieve them 

and the joy to celebrate them.

Amen.

Falling in Love 7


Acorns are small but have a look of completeness. Their smooth skin and rounded shaped topped with its own little cap. That little cap is such a perfect fit! Once the acorn has fallen, its cap discarded, its skin broken, the journey of growth begins and over the years, that acorn will be transformed  from seed to majestic oak. There are oak trees in Richmond Park that were acorns back in the days of Henry VIII.

The world around us is full of curious, beautiful and amazing things. As small children our curiosity and our amazement knew no bounds. Every day would produce novelties- things to see, things to chew or eat, things to grab and hold, things to poke and explore. 

As we have grow older we have often lost that sense of wonder. Things that were new have become mundane. In the rush to be busy, small things flop below the radar. Decorum dictates that we shouldn’t prod or lick things and, unless we’re wine tasters, swirling stuff around our mouth and spitting are frowned upon. Stopping suddenly just to look is discouraged – it interrupts the flow of traffic. Daily routines take over. 

And our love for the world wains and falters. 

The season of creation-tide runs from 1st September till 4th October, the Feast of St Francis. Let’s fall in love again with creation.