Prayers for Creation 

Friday 20th May 2022

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of her hands. Psalm 19:1

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: God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:29-31

Prayers of praise –

Holy is your name and 

Holy is the sky above, 

shades of blue – 

azure, periwinkle, powder – 

with clouds billowing and piled high, 

little puffs and wispy streaks; 

glowing white or deepest dark greys, 

fair weather or storm bearers:

Holy is the sky!

Holy is your name and 

Holy is the earth below, 

shades of brown – 

umber, ochre, taupe – 

stones and grit, dust and hummus, 

teeming with life – 

worms and beetles, 

microfauna and fungi:

Holy is the earth!

Holy is your name and 

Holy are the waters far and wide, 

more shades of blue – 

aquamarine, cobalt, sea green – 

sparkling spring and dancing stream, 

majestic river and languid lake,

and voluminous ocean – 

each overflowing with the gift of life:

Holy are the waters! 

Holy is your name and

Holy are the weeds that toil and spin, 

shades of green – 

lime, moss, emerald – 

rooted in the earth, clinging onto rocks, 

colonising the desert, reaching for the sky, 

brimming with fruits in season,

breathing life into the air

Holy are the weeds!

Prayers of sorrow- 

Heavenly Parent,

We have erred against you and your world.

We have polluted the air and the water, 

the seas and the soil. 

We ask for forgiveness and healing.

We have squandered the earth’s resources, 

and consumed more than our fair share.

We ask for forgiveness and healing.

We have decimated plants and animals, 

we have destroyed habitats and poisoned food chains.

We ask for forgiveness and healing.

We have abused our kin and ignored their humanity,

grinding them down into lives of misery.

We ask for forgiveness and healing.

From a place of sorrow, revive us.

From a place of penitence, quicken us. 

From a place of humility, rebuild us.

The Grace 

Prayers for Creation 

Friday 13th May 2022

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job  33:4

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:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone

when the morning stars sang together
    and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? Job 38:4-7 

Lord,  we should not cease to be amazed at the wonder of creation, 

the diversity of colour, shape and size,

the ingenious adaptations of plants and animals,

the interconnectedness of all living things.

Response:

Then Job answered the Lord: ‘See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
    I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
    twice, but will proceed no further.’ Job 40:3-5

Lord, we should not forget the immense timespan of creation,  

the geological age that have gone before us,  

and the ages yet to come. 

Forgive us when we exaggerate our importance, 

when we claim knowledge we do not have

and when we exceed our competence.

A further reading:

But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.

Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?

In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of every human being. Job 12:7-10, 13

Lord, teach us wisdom. 

Give us humility to learn from others, 

patience to observe what is true,

and contrition to make amends for our mistakes.

Show us how to find joy in simple things, 

contentment with less, 

and  delight in companionship with all creation. 

A final reading:

May the glory of the Lord endure for ever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works—

who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord. Psalm 104: 31-34

Lord, may your creation flourish, 

may we ever be thrilled by what we see, 

uplifted  by what we experience, 

and delighted by what we can offer you. 

The Grace.

Easter Day Intercessions

17th April 2022

Can I invite you to cup your hands, 

and imagine that in them you are holding an egg.

Feel the smoothness and the hardness of the shell. It is there to protect the  young chick inside.

Let us pray for those people and situations who need protection. For the people of Ukrainian living with the dangers of war and especially for young children and those who have been separated from their families. For the people of the Philippines living with the dangers of flooding and mudslides in the aftermath of Storm Megi, and for the people of South Africa suffering from storm force rains and floods. For the Javan rhinoceros threatened with extinction by trophy hunting, poaching and habitat loss. We pray for the climate which needs protection from our human stupidity.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Now imagine that you can hear a small tapping sound as the chick in your egg uses its beak to break open the shell.

Let us pray for those places and situations where people are trying to free themselves. For refugees and asylum seekers. For people trapped by poverty. For people in abusive relationships. For people working in unsafe environments. For the work of Tree Aid planting trees to free communities from the worst affects of the climate crisis. For the people of Shanghai trapped by rising covid infection rates. For Just Stop Oil trying to free us from our dependency on fossil fuels.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Now imagine that the shell is breaking open and out struggles a small damp and floppy chick, 

needing warmth and comfort to gain its strength.

Let us pray for those who need care and comfort and healing. For ecosystems struggling to cope with the climate crisis and the pressures of human consumption. For those who are lonely, for those in pain.  For those who feel anxious and afraid. For those who are sick.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer

Now imagine that the chick perched in your hands  is all fluffed up and warm, with a beady eye and a happy cheep. 

Let us give thanks for the wonder and joy of life, for the beauty we see around us and the love we encounter day by day, for the resilience of nature. 

On this day of resurrection we remember those who have died recently, 

And those whose year’s mind occurs now, 

Let us give thanks for the hope and reassurance that God gives us through the resurrection of his Son,  Jesus Christ. 

 Merciful God accept these prayer for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

.8

Prayers for Creation 

Friday 8th April 2022

Happy are those  who do not follow the advice of the wicked. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season,  their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. Ps 1:1a,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 Proverbs 22:16-18

Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss. The words of the wise: Incline your ear and hear my words, and apply your mind to my teaching; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you  if all of them are ready on your lips.

Each Friday during Lent we will focus on a different continent; this week North America

North America extends from the tiny Aleutian Islands in the northwest to the Isthmus of Panama in the south. The continent includes the enormous island of Greenland in the northeast and the small island countries and territories that dot the Caribbean Sea and western North Atlantic Ocean. In the far north, the continent stretches halfway around the world, from Greenland to the Aleutians. But at Panama’s narrowest part, the continent is just 50 km across. North America can be divided into five physical regions: the mountainous west, the Great Plains, the Canadian Shield, the varied eastern region, and the Caribbean. Mexico and Central America’s western coast are connected to the mountainous west, while its lowlands and coastal plains extend into the eastern region. Within these regions are all the major types of biomes in the world. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/north-america-physical-geography/

Glory to God 

Creator of successions of mountains ranges:

We praise you for the awe and wonder of these regions, 

their reminder that we are but humans.

We marvel at the power of water to carve out canyons 

and the power of water to generate energy.

Glory to God

Creator of forests and plains:

We praise you for the richness of their biodiversity, for tall prairie grasses and even taller trees; 

for the smallest grasshoppers to the mighty bison, 

for the whistling marmots and black bears that huff and grunt.

Glory to God

Creator of rivers, lakes and wetlands:

We praise you for the Great Lakes and the fresh water they contain, 

for the Mississippi River and the fertile soil it nurtures, 

and for the wetlands of the Everglades, the 360 plus species of bird  

and the plump grandeur of the manatees.

Glory to God, 

Creator of tundra and ice: 

We praise you for the ingenuity of life that adapts to the extremes of climate and geography.

We marvel at the diversity of life – lichens and moss, polar bears and caribou, 

and the many migrating birds such as the Arctic tern.

Merciful God,

Creator of human kind, 

Forgive our greed that has mined land and sea for fossil fuels, jeopardising our future.

Forgive our greed that industrialises farming, destroying soils and draining lakes. 

Forgive our greed that turns animals into commodities and disregards their sentient nature. 

Forgive our greed for consumer goods that strips the earth’s reserves.

Merciful God,

Creator of our brothers and sisters:

Forgive the casualness with which we let the rich grow richer 

and the poor poorer.

Forgive the casualness with which we let the rich break the laws 

and yet still penalise the poor.

Forgive the carelessness with which we discard what we buy 

ignoring the meagre pay of those who labour. 

Guiding God,

Source  of all wisdom, 

Transform our hearts and minds, turn the direction of 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

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 Reflection

First Sunday of Lent

6th March 2022

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *
abides under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 He shall say to the Lord,
“You are my refuge and my stronghold, *
my God in whom I put my trust.”

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, *
and the Most High your habitation,

10 There shall no evil happen to you, *
neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over you, *
to keep you in all your ways.

12 They shall bear you in their hands, *
lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; *
you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.

14 Because he is bound to me in love,
therefore will I deliver him; *
I will protect him, because he knows my Name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; *
I am with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and bring him to honour.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, *
and show him my salvation.

Romans 10:8b-13

“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Luke 4:1-13

After his baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'”

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”

Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Reflection

“You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I put my trust.”

What does it mean to put our trust in God? What effect does it have?

The reading from Deuteronomy tells of the richly rewarded life being enjoyed by those who once been wandering Arameans, who had been subject to slavery and oppression a foreign land, but who had slight help from God. But our knowledge of the Book of Exodus would suggest that the people’s trust was not always 100%, that there were times of wavering and doubt. Certainly the teaching that comes from Jesus whilst in the wilderness, is that trusting in God is not about expecting or demanding material gain. 

Today’s psalm from which the opening quote comes, also gives praise to God for the protection and deliverance from evil. It is also the psalm from which the devil quotes as he tries to persuade Jesus to parade God’s power. But trusting God is not about expecting or demanding God to shield us from either danger or our own recklessness. 

The passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds us God’s concern for us is affected by neither our nationality, nor our background. Rather there is but one Lord whom we should honour and who will save us. The divisions of nationality which the devil claims to control, are a false diversion. 

To put our trust in God, is not to expect everything to magically come right in our favour.  It is not to expect that what we want will fall into our laps. To trust in God is not to act carelessly or selfishly, and then expect God to pick up the pieces. To trust in God is not to have predetermined the answer, nor is it to force the issue. To trust in God is to want what God wants – what God wants for our neighbours, what God wants for creation, as well as what God wants for us. 

How do we know what God wants? Prayer; studying the Bible; studying the book of nature;  listening prayerfully with others; paying attention to what builds up the community, to  what enhances life, to  what allows creation to flourish. To love God with all our being, and to love our neighbours as ourself. 

“You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I put my trust.”

Where does all this find us today? 

How do we reconcile the conflict, the suffering and the destruction we are seeing in Ukraine, with the assertion that God is a refuge, a source of strength and trust? Our hearts ache with concern for the people and whilst we can send aid, we feel helpless. We urgently hope for an end to the hostilities but can so no way of resolution, no quick or easy way of establishing peace. We harbour the fear that this conflict will spill out beyond Ukraine’s borders and that our way of life too will be in peril. How can we pray if we cannot imagine how our prayers can be answered?

Above we noted that trusting in God is likely to be separate from knowing the answer to the problem. Trust is about continuing to hope without knowing. We noted that trusting is not about testing God,  nor trying to force a particular solution. But is is about aligning our selves with God, of endeavouring to want what God wants, to act the way God wants. God wants us to love our neighbours. So we should pray for them. We should give consolation to one another, listen to one another, give each other support. We should give practical support. For the wellbeing of Ukrainians practical support in this instance is best provided through financial donations to charities who can provide the aid they need. Later we may be able to offer more direct help when Ukrainian refugees come into our communities. 

The Green Tau: preparing for Lent


1st March 2022

Lent is the forty day season of preparation for Easter; preparation for the new life that we share with Christ through his resurrection.

Lent is marked by Christians as a time of self examination, penitence, self denial and moderation, spiritual discipline (usually involving prayer and study/ reading) and alms giving. More generally it is seen as a time for giving up on a luxury we enjoy or giving up on a vice which has become an unwanted habit. The climate crisis has prompted some to use Lent as a season for fasting from carbon. 

Lent begins with Jesus in the wilderness, where with nothing to eat, he is totally reliant on his relationship with God. We might also think of other wilderness. The wilderness that lay outside the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve faced the challenge of tending and filling the earth so that it might bloom and flourish as it had in the garden planted by God. The wilderness between Egypt (where the prevailing system had been one of slavery and oppression) and the Promised Land. Here too the exiles had to learn to trust and learn from God how they should live, how they should adapt to a new environment. 

Lent can therefore be the time when we should  focus on how we tend and care for the environment, on how we pay attention  and respond to God’s will, so that we can flourish in harmony with God’s gift of creation.  

Jesus’s time in the wilderness occurs straight after he has been baptised by John in the Jordan. John too had chosen to locate himself in the wilderness, knowing its  symbolic status as a place of encounter with God and a place of repentance. John called on the people to own up to their sins, to change the way they lived, to transform their lifestyles, and to prepare the ground for the new era – the new creation – that the Messiah was bringing. John’s challenge was tough: the rich were to share their wealth, officials were not to cheat, and soldiers were not to abuse their power. Every tree that did not bear good fruit would be chopped down and burnt!

Should we too see Lent as the time to call truth to power? To point to both what is wrong in the way we live  and to what the dire consequences will be? Is it time to stand up in the wilderness calling on everyone to prepare for a new way of life, a new beginning, a fresh start? John and Jesus were charismatic activists. They spoke out, they told stories, they acted out their message. They spoke the truth. They healed and consoled people. And they showed people the right way.  

This Lent we need to be up front and open in talking about the climate crisis. We need to talk about it with our friends and neighbours. We need to both console and inspire. We need to show in our daily lives how we can live differently. We need to repeatedly demand change from those in power, MPs and local councillors, business leaders and investors, local businesses, manufacturers and retailers. We need to be vocal in our churches and in the streets (a poster in your window or on your gatepost). Now is the time to repent and change if we are to avert great disaster and instead to welcome in a new age of hope.

Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Mark 12:29-31

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.  Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

At core the message is simple: Love God, love your neighbour. Learn these words, teach them to your children, talk about them, repeat them at home and abroad, know them you sleep and when you rise, imprint them on your heart, display them on your gate post and door post, wear them on your sleeve. 

Second Sunday before Lent

20th February 2022

Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-25In

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.’

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones
   and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
   for out of Man this one was taken.’
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Psalm 65 

To the leader. A Psalm of David. A Song.
Praise is due to you,
   O God, in Zion;
and to you shall vows be performed,
   O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come.
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
   you forgive our transgressions.
Happy are those whom you choose and bring near
   to live in your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
   your holy temple. 


By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
   O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
   and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
   you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
   the roaring of their waves,
   the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy. 


You visit the earth and water it,
   you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
   you provide the people with grain,
   for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
   settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
   and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
   your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
   the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
   the valleys deck themselves with grain,
   they shout and sing together for joy.

Revelation 4

After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and cornelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.

Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,
‘Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
   who was and is and is to come.’
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
   to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
   and by your will they existed and were created.’

Luke 8:22-25

One day Jesus  got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’

Reflection

The small fishing boat caught in the midst of a storm is at risk of capsizing and its crew of drowning. At Jesus’s word the storm is calmed and the danger averted. His disciples are astonished. They had not expected this outcome: perhaps in waking Jesus they had been hoping for some words of comfort before they drowned. Or may they had woken him so that he too might have time to prepare for his death. ‘Who is this,’ they ask, ‘that he commands even the winds and the water and they obey?’ 

The control of the elements belongs to God. Yet as this story reminds us, Jesus, as much as he is of human flesh, he is also of God. 

 All our readings today remind us that God is the creator, the one who created the earth and all life that flourishes therein. And it reminds us of our role as humans and God’s expectation of us. The story from Genesis tells us that God specifically created humans to till and keep the earth, to ensure its continuing flourishing. Gods has created a regenerative earth that abounds with life such that it is self sustaining providing food and nourishment for all. 

The psalm exhorts  us that to God is due both praise and the performance of vows. This is balanced by the reminder that God is the source of our hope and  salvation – and then describes the wonder and bounty of nature with which Gods has endowed the world. This is a world of joyful abundance . 

Even the passage from Revelation extols the wonders of God’s creation. Seen through the lens of a spiritual vision, the writer sees heaven as a place where God is endlessly praised by and for all that is created.

So what of our world in the 21st century? Destructive winds and storms we certainly know about even here in London. Earlier this month Boston, USA, received a record snowfall of over 60cm with gusting winds that brought temperatures down to -28C. In Australia monsoon rains resulted in 381mm falling over night in Queensland. Tropical Storm Ana caused nearly 80 deaths in Madagascar, Mozambique, and Malawi  as well as displacing 160, 000 people. Whilst this week heavy rains in Brazil caused a landslide that has killed at least 94 people. In California 66 of the state is now affected by severe drought, and the risk of further wild fires. 

All around we are seeing the affects of human-made climate change. We cannot control the wind and the waves, but we can wreak devastation. Where is God in this? Does God hear our cries that we are perishing?

Yes, God does here our cries, and the cries of creation. God knows the fear and pain being suffered. God does not will storms or destruction, floods or droughts. God does not override the wind and the waves. God does not control humans as if we were automatons. Rather God desires that we tend and care for the world around us, that we learn from and understand the workings of creation, that we cease those activities that cause harm and damage.  Scientists have been studying the causes of climate change over the last 50 plus years. They have been modelling future effects of human activity and how we can alter our behaviour to constrain the worsening effects of the crisis. International groups, even governments, have accepted the validity and necessity of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – not to stop extreme weather events but to keep them within such limits that those who are vulnerable  can be protected. God is certainly there at the heart of these endeavours. 

‘Where is your faith?’ Jesus asked his companions. And today that is still his question: Where is our faith? Do we place our faith in God, in the wisdom of creation, in the knowledge discerned by scientists? If so, then why are we not taking all necessary steps to reduce our carbon emissions, to achieve net zero? Why are we not providing the finances to enable everyone to take part, whether that is those in this country who cannot meet the cost of insulating their houses, or buy sustainably produced food, or afford the cost of rail travel? Why are we not providing the finance marginalised countries who don’t have the capital to switch to renewables, who are ill-equipped to cope with storms and floods, who can’t meet the cost of adaptation, who can’t afford to develop new farming techniques? 

Or is it that we place our faith in human ego, in human independence? Is it that we place our faith in the motivation of profit? Is it that we find ourselves trapped in the iniquity of systems? Systems that promote short term gain over long term well being? Systems that trap the poor and the vulnerable? Systems that can’t envisage change?

Let us resolve to place our faith in God. God created the world, and as part of it, humanity. By studying how the world works, how ecosystems develop and thrive, we learn how to live sustainably and in harmony with creation. We learn how to live as God desires. Continuing to live lives that destroy habitats, that diminish the world’s biodiversity, that consume resources faster than they can be renewed, is to live in opposition to God’s will. Where we struggle is that as individuals, however much we try to live sustainably and in harmony with God, we cannot outweigh the contri effects of those who choose not to live sustainably, who choose to ignore God’s will. Often these are not individuals but are companies, governments and systems. 

We need to pray for these situations, to pray for for a softening of hearts and a change of disposition. To pray for those who are suffering. To pray for the strengthening of those who strive to do what is right.  We need to be prophetic, to call out the wrong where we see it, to challenge misplaced convention and tradition, to raise awareness of what is right and what is wrong. We need to join forces one with another to make our voices heard and make our message credible. And for this we need faith.  Like yeast in dough, like the mustard seed in the soil, faith can grow and work miracles.

Midday Prayers for the Climate 

Friday 18th February 2022

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.

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

A Reading: Matthew 6: 19-26 The Message 

 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a musty cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

 “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.

 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” 

A reflection on Proverbs 1:10, 13-15:-


If shop windows say, Buy all kinds of costly things; 

fill your houses with luxury:

Do not be seduced, follow rather the way of righteous simplicity.


If magazines say, here are the solutions to all life’s problems; 

 check out this month’s lifestyle: 

Do not be seduced, follow rather the way of righteous simplicity.


If neighbours say, Come, be like us, 

keep up with our standards:

Do not be seduced, follow rather the way of righteous simplicity.


If adverts say, Enjoy today and 

throw away tomorrow:

Do not be seduced, follow rather the ways of righteous simplicity.


If money-makers say, Here, make a quick buck; 

don’t worry about the risk:

Do not be seduced, follow rather the ways of righteous simplicity.


If businesses say, Enjoy what we promise, 

forget the environmental cost:

Do not be seduced, follow rather the ways of righteous simplicity.


Merciful God, 

protect us from ourselves – our ignorance and our gullibility –

Give us wisdom to discern your truth

and insight to see your ways, 

that we may live with simplicity,

enjoying your gifts and sharing your bounty.

Amen.


Praise be to God! For simple things:-

Clean air and the scent of the flowers, 

wind that lifts and freshens.  

For water, crystal clear or dark as bronze, 

now skittering, now languidly flowing.

For trees that grow, ring upon ring, 

and bats and beetles and tiny tree creepers.

For the musical interruption of robin and blackbird, 

and the chit chat of sparrows. 

For fresh picked leaves and fruits in season:

our daily bread.

For the times to pause, to focus our eyes

 and attune ours ears: for peaceful observation.

For all these we give you thanks,

Generous, ever-caring God.

Amen.

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!