The Green Tau: issue 41

11th May 2022

A question of food

Food is a daily necessity, yet for many it is unaffordable. Recent research  points out that in the UK 2 million people cannot afford to eat every day https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/may/09/more-than-2m-adults-in-uk-cannot-afford-to-eat-every-day-survey-finds.   Is there a flaw in our food production and distribution system?

It seems to me that food production in the UK is caught between two objectives: that food should be produced as cheaply as possible, and that profits for the shareholders should be maximised. Producing food as cheaply as possible has been seen as a way of ensuring everyone can afford to eat. However producing food cheaply doesn’t necessarily make it affordable.

Reducing the cost of food can be achieved in various way:-

  • Industrialising processes whether that is the Chorleywood method of making bread or factory farming livestock
  • Large scale monoculture farming where land is cleared to grow single crops on a large scale – including the clearing of rain forests. 
  • Intensified farming where animals are kept in barns and fed high protein diets rather than having a free range lifestyle, foraging and grazing as they go – low intensive free range animal foraging requires a much greater area of land. On the other hand, eg high protein diets fed to indoor animals has to be grown somewhere.
  • Intensive use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers to maintain high crop yields. This can become an expensive option when the cost of these inputs rise.
  • Keeping costs down by paying low wages and/ or by employing people on a seasonal or zero hours basis only.  This applies throughout the food industry from the farmhand  to the supermarket check out.
  • Automation of processes whether that is robots picking crops or automated diary parlours miking cows.
  • Importing food from countries where labour costs are even lower. is of course a flaw here.

Many of these cost saving practices involve reducing wages and/ jobs. As wages and jobs fall  so the need for even cheaper food rises. There seems to be a flaw in the system!. Recently Ranjit Singh Boparan, the UK’s biggest poultry supplier of chicken, queried how it was that his industry could producing chickens that sold for less that a pint of beer – and whether such low prices could be maintained. In part he was questioning whether there were any ways in which costs can be cuts. Yet even at £2.66 (Tesco’s) for a chicken, chicken is still of the menu for a lot of people. 

During the year April 2021 to March 2022 the Trussell Trust (the UK’s largest food bank charity) distributed over 2.1 million emergency food parcel, an increase of 14 compared with the previous year. https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/end-year-stats/

People who have to resort to food banks to eat, are not just people who are unemployed. They are also those who, because of disabilities and illness, receive disability benefits, those who are elderly and living on state pensions, those who are employed on zero hours contracts, and even those who are in full employment. The current minimum wage is £8.91 per hour for those over the age of 21. The Job Seekers Allowance is £77 a week for those 25 and over – depending on circumstances, this may be supplemented by Universal  Credit. The full basic State Pension is £141.85 per week. All of these are less than the minimum wage recommended by Living Wage Foundation – £9.90  (£11.05 in London). Whether even this figure will be sufficient at a time of sharply rising fuel costs (and the knock on effect that will have an all products) is yet to be seen.

We have created an economy that does not provide the poorest with the necessary financial resources to enable them to buy the daily food they need – let alone enough to pay for heating, period products, housing, travel etc. Why is this so? Because the economic model we use says that profits must take priority. If costs rise such that they risk profits, then costs must be reduced – even if that means reducing wages and employment opportunities. As a fig leaf, a vague promise is proffered that, by maintaining profits and ensuring that the economy continues to grows, the trickle down effect will – ultimately – increase the wealth of even the poorest in society.  No where does our economic system suggest that goods should be priced at a level that allows the workforce to be paid a genuinely fair wage – a wage such that they could afford the essentials of life including chicken and a pint of beer. 

If everyone was paid at levels of pay (including benefits and pensions) that allowed them to eat properly, heat their homes, pay for their accommodation etc,  then yes prices of some goods (such as chicken) would go up. And of course that proposed ‘fair’ level of pay would have to be sufficient for the recipients to pay those higher food (and other) prices. There would be a knock on for those already on higher incomes in that their day to day living costs too would go up – but usually the higher our income the smaller the proportion we spend on essentials such as food so the impact would be smaller the higher one’s income.  Would we not all feel more comfortable as a society knowing that everyone was being properly fed and that no one was benefiting because someone else was being underpaid? 

This reinvisiging of the economy is not a pipe dream but is to be found in the shape of Doughnut Economics. In her book, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, Oxford University’s Kate Raworth argues for a radical overhaul of our traditional economic models: “Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet,” she says. “In other words, to ensure that no one falls short on life’s essentials … while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend.”

Doughnut Economics challenges our existing profit orientated economics that sees economic growth as the only way forwards.  Doughnut Economics argues that we can have a more caring and more sophisticated economic model which has two key objectives. First that everyone should have a comfortable standard of living – one that meets all seven priorities of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Second that all economic activity should be sustainable and not cause irreparable damage to life on earth – ensuring a stable climate, fertile soils, healthy oceans, a protective ozone layer, ample freshwater and abundant biodiversity. https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics


This economic model would not only prioritise the needs of the 2 million in the UK who cannot afford to eat on a daily basis; it would also prioritise the needs of the 3 billion globally who are malnourished. And it would prioritise the well-being of chickens that are reared for less than the cost of a latte!

 Counting on …day 179

11th May 2022

One victim of the war in Ukraine, is the global supply of wheat. Ukraine is usually a major exporter of wheat but this year will only produce a fraction of their normal harvest. This short fall in wheat supplies will affect many countries across the world – eg Lebanon, Egypt, Somalia and Laos. Across the globe wheat is grown not just for human consumption but as animal feed too. If more people followed a plant based diet, we would be better able to feed everyone. 

Counting on …day 142

5th April 2022

Being an ethical consumer means choosing to buy things that have a positive impact on our world and avoiding those that don’t – and the small items matter just as much as the big ones! So what about a cup of coffee? Be informed before you buy. 

Starbucks paid just £5.4m in UK corporation tax last year despite making a gross profit of £95m

(https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/mar/30/starbucks-uk-corporation-tax-profit-administrative-expenses-royalties) despite paying its parent company £26.5m in royalties. In 2021 Starbucks received a tax credit worth £4.4m in the UK because of losses made during the pandemic in 2020  despite the coffee chain’s US parent company making a profit during the same period of $1.2bn (£870m). (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jun/18/starbucks-received-uk-tax-credit-in-2020-despite-making-profit-in-us)

Green Tau: issue 38

29th March 2022

Am I Wealthy?

When we think of wealth our first thoughts are probably of piles of money – and if not actual notes and coins, them lots of zeros on one’s bank balance. When we talk about someone’s wealth, we do so in terms of pounds. According to The Times Rich List the wealthiest person in the UK for 2021 was Sir Leonard Blavatnik, with a wealth of £23 billion. The wealth of nations is also typically measured in pounds/ dollars etc. The wealthiest nation in the world is the United States with a gross domestic product of  $18.62 trillion. The UK stands in 5th position with $2.65 trillion. 

Although we talk in terms of pounds and dollars, these examples of wealth are not piles of money (whether as cash or bank balances). Rather they are investments in stocks and shares, investments in property, luxury yachts, art works etc – all of which can be expressed in monetary terms and could in theory be sold/ liquidated to provide cash. 

But are there other forms of wealth? 

Wealth has in the past had the meaning of happiness as well as financial riches, and the word developed from the Middle English ‘wele’ or ‘weal’ meaning well-being. 

As a resident of Richmond in south west London, many things have and do contribute to my well-being. They are a wealth that I have inherited through being a citizen of the UK.

  • I was born into stable middle class family. My childhood was happy with no traumatic events. My parents were supportive and encouraging. I had a happy extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles. 
  • I spent my childhood in a rural part of the country where I learnt to appreciate the natural world.
  • Growing up I had the benefits of free health care (including dental care) and free education right through to my graduation from university. 
  • I continue to benefit from free healthcare – and can afford to access dental and other therapeutic treatments.
  • I am free to follow my chosen religion.
  • Even though I am a woman I can vote, I am free to work outside the home, and I can expect my husband to assist with domestic tasks and childcare.
  • I live in a country with reliable mains water, electricity and gas; with well maintained roads and a public transport network; with regular refuse collections; with dedicated emergency services and with a welfare and benefits system. I will in due course benefit from a state pension.
  • I live in a country with a respected police service and judicial system. 
  • I live in a country where bribery and corruption is not an every day occurrences.
  • I live in a country with well endowed schools, universities, museums and libraries. 
  • I live in a country with a free press. 
  • I live in a country where green spaces are protected, where there are rigorous standards for food quality and animal welfare. 

I am not saying that all the provision of all these in the UK is perfect and that there isn’t considerable scope for improvement, but compared to what is available for the average member of our global community, they are a significant source of wealth and wellbeing.

This wealth, from which I have and do benefit, arises from investments made by earlier generations and, to a lesser extent, from the current spending of tax revenues by the government and local authorities. It is a wealth that derives from the UK’s early investment in the Industrial Revolution, and from its exploitation of resources from other countries – either those which it colonised or those with which it arranged beneficial trading relationships. It is a wealth that has developed through the widespread use of, initially coal, and subsequently oil and gas, which has contributed significantly to the global climate crisis that we all now face. 

Is this wealth that I have something I can redistribute? I benefit from it but I don’t own it. I can’t realise its cash value and redistribute it. I can’t divide up or share my education or my good health, but I can use them to change the world. I can inform and campaign; I can recognise the injustices and inequalities that exist between people and across the world; I can volunteer and protest; I can influence by example; and I can effect change through my financial spending and donations.

Midday Prayers for the Climate: 

Friday 18th March

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus Isaiah 35:1

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: Daniel 4: 10-12

Upon my bed this is what I saw; there was a tree at the centre of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew great and strong, its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth. Its foliage was beautiful, its fruit abundant, and it provided food for all. The animals of the field found shade under it, the birds of the air nested in its branches, and from it all living beings were fed.

Each Friday during Lent we will focus on a different continent; this week South America. South America, the fourth-largest continent, extends from the Gulf of Darién in the northwest to the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego in the south. South America can be divided into three physical regions: mountains and highlands, river basins, and coastal plains. Mountains and coastal plains generally run in a north-south direction, while highlands and river basins generally run in an east-west direction.
South America’s extreme geographic variation contributes to the continent’s large number of biomes. A biome is a community of animals and plants that spreads over an area with a relatively uniform climate.  Within a few hundred kilometres, South America’s coastal plains’ dry desert biome rises to the rugged alpine biome of the Andes mountains. One of the continent’s river basins (the Amazon) is defined by dense, tropical rain forest, while the other (Paraná) is made up of vast grasslands.
The diversity of animal life in the Amazon rain forest is unsurpassed in the rest of the world. There can be as many as 100 different tree species on a single acre. The rain forest is perfectly suited for arboreal, or tree-living, animals. More than 2 million species of insects are native to the region, including hundreds of spiders and butterflies. Primates are abundant—howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and capuchin monkeys—along with sloths, snakes, and iguanas. Thousands of native birds include brightly coloured macaws, parrots, toucans, and parakeets. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/south-america-physical-geography/

Glory to God 

Creator of rivers and oceans:

We praise you for the Amazon, 1725 miles long!

Glory to God, 

Creator of mountains and valleys:

We praise you for the Amazon Basin, all 2.7 million squares miles.

Glory to God, 

 Creator of trees and plants:

We praise you for the 40,000 plants species of the Amazon.

We praise you for biome that supports 350 millions tonnes of life per square kilometre.

Glory to God, 

Creator of all that crawls and swims and flies.

We praise you for wildlife of the Amazon – 

2 million species of insect, 2000 birds and mammals, 800 amphibians and reptiles.

Merciful God,

Creator of human kind, 

Forgive us for the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest,  18% lost and counting.

Forgive our greed that replaces trees with cattle ranches, with soy crops for their fodder.

Forgive our greed that replaces trees with sugar cane, for sweetmeats and bio fuel.

Merciful God,

Creator of air and space, 

Forgive our foolishness in destroying the source of 20% of the world’s oxygen.

Forgive our greed that gobbles up the living space of others, endangering  survival of jaguars and blue macaws, poison dart frogs and river dolphins.

Merciful God

Creator of climates and seasons,

Forgive our foolishness that creates droughts and heat waves.

Forgive our greed that fills the air with carbon dioxide and destroys carbon sinks.

Guiding God,

Source  of all wisdom, 

Transform our hearts and minds, turn the direction our hands and feet 

so that with alacrity and commitment we will reform our lives 

and live only in harmony with your creation. 

Amen.

The Grace

Sunday next before Lent

27th February 2022

Exodus 34:29-35

Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Psalm 99

1 The Lord is King;
let the people tremble; *
he is enthroned upon the cherubim;
let the earth shake.

2 The Lord is great in Zion; *
he is high above all peoples.

3 Let them confess his Name, which is great and awesome; *
he is the Holy One.

4 “O mighty King, lover of justice,
you have established equity; *
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”

5 Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
and fall down before his footstool; *
he is the Holy One.

6 Moses and Aaron among his priests,
and Samuel among those who call upon his Name, *
they called upon the Lord, and he answered them.

7 He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud; *
they kept his testimonies and the decree that he gave them.

8 O Lord our God, you answered them indeed; *
you were a God who forgave them,
yet punished them for their evil deeds.

9 Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
and worship him upon his holy hill; *
for the Lord our God is the Holy One.

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”–not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

Reflection

Ascending Mount Sinai, Moses draws close to God. It is a transformative experience: God’s glory shines through him. But is is not just Moses’ appearance that has changed; so too has his understanding of God and what God desires. Moses comes back down from the mountain with a new teaching, a new way of living that is in accordance with God’s will. Moses presents this to the Israelites through the medium of the Law.

The psalmist presents God as king. A king is one who reigns, one who determines how people will live within the  bounds of his kingdom.  God’s kingdom, God’s rule, says the psalmist, is characterised, by justice, equity and righteousness. 

I think Paul in his letter to the Corinthians is being a bit harsh in its condemnation of the the Jews. But then we too can equally be blinkered especially if we do not expect to see or hear a different interpretation – and that is as true of what we may hear on the news as of what we hear from scripture. We need to question are assumptions and to be enquiring. 

What Paul does want to say is that when we see and hear through the medium of our relationship with Jesus, our understanding will be completely transformed. It will be a route to freedom, a route that will see us being daily transformed by the glory of God. 

As with Moses’ experience, so for the disciples. When they are in such close proximity to God’s presence, they are overwhelmed by God’s glory. When Moses came back down from the mountain, he brought with him the Law, enscribed on tablets of stone. When the disciples came down from the mountain, they return with Jesus. Jesus is the living embodiment of God’s will for humankind. In Jesus’s example and teaching, we learn what is God’s will for the world. And as God says, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’

Today’s readings are about hearing and seeing differently – hearing and seeing as God, and not the world, would have us hear and see. If we did, we would experience the world as a place where justice and equity and righteousness flourish. 

Pause a moment. What would such a world be like? Would there be people going to bed hungry? Would there be people fearing the loss of freedom and citizenship? Would there be people exposed to bombs and bullets? Would there be widespread destruction of rain forests, the depletion of soils, the loss of habitat and extinction of plants and animals? Would there be extreme weather patterns caused by human exploitation? Would there be a super rich 1% and an impoverished 90%? Would there be families dependent on food banks,  people with no stable income, young people unable to afford  homes, old people unable to afford care? 

If we know Jesus Christ, if we have faith in his teachings, if we were to follow his example, then through us God’s Spirit would be transforming the world. We can see it happening in small ways.

A couple of week’s ago at Christ Church we heard about the work of Partners for Change transforming the lives of Ethiopian communities. This fortnight we are marking the work of the Fairtrade Foundation, seeing both how it transforms the lives of others and protects and enhances the natural environment, and are being reminded how we can actively participate in that change. In our intercessions today we will be praying for the work of Christians Against Poverty which provides support and life skills and encouragement for people whose lives have been eroded by debt. 

We can use the time and discipline Lent gives us to hear anew what Jesus teaches, to reshape our lives to express his love for the people we meet day by day, to care for the natural world in which we live, and to support the work that is bringing justice and equity and righteousness to prevail. Let God’s kingdom come on earth! 

Midday Prayers for the Climate: 

Friday 25th February 

The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

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:

You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy labourers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns. You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset, because they are poor and their livelihood depends on them; otherwise they might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Deuteronomy 24: 14-15

Wages that do not meet the rent,

Pay that does not feed the family?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Debts that cripple, 

Interest rates that grow exponentially?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Money for factories but not for schools

For plantations but not for hospitals?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

An absence of workers’ rights, 

Child labour and slavery?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Destruction of forests and habitats,

Loss of native wildlife ?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Response from Amos 5:24)

You have been told, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Prayers:

We pray for those who own sugar and palm oil, coffee and cocoa plantations:

That they may seek justice for workers and wildlife, for soils and habitats. 

We pray for agriculturalists and scientists:

That their work developing ecological and practical farming methods may flourish.

We pray for investors and entrepreneurs:

That their work developing new and sustainable markets may grow.

We pray for those who raise funds and awareness, and those who lobby:

That they may succeed in changing both hearts and minds and government policies.

We pray for those who monitor progress and certify business operations:

That their work will ensure and expand fair trade.

We pray for consumers:

That their hearts and purses will be open to the goals of fair trade.

Amen.

With gratitude we celebrate all that the Fair Trade movement has achieved, 

For lives transformed, for land restored and communities strengthened.

Gracious and ever generous God, 

We thank you for the gift and wonder of creation,

For the plants, animals and peoples

that reveal the munificence of your love.

Amen. 

Counting on …day 93 

13th February 2022

To “Show the Love” two hearts that were made yesterday are being dispatched, one to our local MP and one to our Local Councillor. The  hearts are a reminder to those who make them and those who receive them of the importance of caring for creation and of what we loose if we do not. 


Follow this link to take part https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/show-the-love

Third Sunday before Lent 

13th February 2022

Jeremiah 17:5-10

Thus says the Lord:

Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
and make mere flesh their strength,
whose hearts turn away from the Lord.

They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see when relief comes.

They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.

They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;

in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.

The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse–
who can understand it?

I the Lord test the mind
and search the heart,

to give to all according to their ways,
according to the fruit of their doings.

Psalm 1

1 Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, *
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

2 Their delight is in the law of the Lord, *
and they meditate on God’s law day and night.

3 They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; *
everything they do shall prosper.

4 It is not so with the wicked; *
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes, *
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, *
but the way of the wicked is doomed.

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ–whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.

Luke 6:17-26

Jesus came down with the twelve apostles and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

Then he looked up at his disciples and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.

“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Humanity. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.

“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.

“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”

Reflection 

Considering the news we hear and read and see each day, who would place much trust in mere mortals?

We seem, on the one hand, to be good at destroying the good things around us, and, on the either hand, to be completely oblivious to this. The net result being that we continue to destroy the world. We  have the misplaced belief that we mortals are doing the right thing!

Jeremiah’s description is that we are like a shrub in a desert – one that can’t  recognise relief when it comes. We are facing a climate crisis, an energy crisis and a poverty crisis. We could find relief by switching from fossil fuels to renewables; by shifting our investments, taxes, and subsidies from the ones that are  causing the problem to the other. We could insulate people’s homes, instal solar panels on their roofs and supply the cheaper green energy to make life easier for the poor. BUT we don’t! Instead we struggle trying to be a healthy in a place where there is no water and where the soil has been contaminated with salt. 

We pay people less than they need to survive  so that companies can sell their goods more cheaply and rake in the profits. We expect cheap food, and let supermarkets harass farmers to short change the soil and exploit their livestock. and then resent them being given subsistence benefits. We want things to be cheaper, happily ignoring the exploitation of workers. We avoid taxing the rich less they take their money elsewhere, yet complain when there aren’t enough nurses and teachers. We resent paying more for things that last, instead allowing the world to be a dumping ground for plastics, and electronic waste, uneaten food and hardly worn clothes.

Jeremiah is right: those who rely in mere mortals are cursed. We fail to realise that if it were not for our misplaced trust, we could be like trees growing by streams, like shrubs in a well water land, where the leaves would be green, providing shade from the heat. 

We could be living in a world where the poor are blessed; Where the hungry are fed; Where the distraught are consoled. We could be living in a world where resources are shared and the future protected, where health and opportunity are givens, a world of joy and contentment. A world where the word of God is followed and the Son is esteemed. 

Our challenge is to believe that with God, all this is possible. To believe is to act in accordance with that belief. If we believe that paying people a pittance is wrong, we should say so. If we believe people should be paid more, we must be willing to pay more. If we believe that God’s world is for everyone, we should share resources equally and willing taking less if we find we have been consuming too much.

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.”

Midday Prayers for the Climate

Friday 4th February 


The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

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:

Seek good and not evil,
   that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
   just as you have said.

Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
   and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations,
   to whom the house of Israel resorts!
Cross over to Calneh, and see;
   from there go to Hamath the great;
   then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
   Or is your territory greater than their territory,
O you that put far away the evil day,
   and bring near a reign of violence? 


Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
   and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
   and calves from the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
   and like David improvise on instruments of music;
who drink wine from bowls,
   and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
   but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
   and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away. 

Amos 5:14, 6:1-7

Like carbon to the atmosphere:

We have added to the world’s woes.

Like nutrients from the soil;

We have taken without restoring.

Like heat to the ocean:

We have sown destruction.

All: Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.

In our forgiving and being forgiven:

Bring in your reign, O God: Let Godly hopes prevail.


A Lament for our age

When advertisers exhort us to drive ever larger fast cars –

We shall not comply.

When fashion houses entreat us to buy clothes 

for the beach and more for barbecue, 

clothes for lounging and more for reclining – 

We shall not comply.

When top chefs urge us to buy tropical fruits and exotic grains, 

to eat strawberries in January and avocados in September –

We shall not comply.

When tour companies tout trips to the Tropics, 

all flights included,  or city breaks by air –

We shall not comply.

When weekend magazines promote this season’s new colour schemes, 

wall paper and furnishings: out with the old and in with the new –

We shall not comply.

When tech industries unveil this year’s new phone, 

the upgraded tablet and irreparable head sets –

We shall not comply.

When governments tell us  that coal mines are good 

and ask for our vote –

We shall not comply.

When trend setters define the next must-have accessory 

and deride what was last season’s in thing – 

We shall not comply.

When politicians tell us national needs are all important 

and foreigners must wait – 

We shall not comply.

Holy God, 

keep awake in us a true love for the earth, 

its flora and fauna, our brothers and sisters.

Strengthen our resolve to live within our means, 

to act with compassion, and following your will –

We shall COMPLY!