Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

At the time of writing I have just attended a meeting in which we discussed eco-church. The easiest way to describe eco-church is, how to be church, how to look after the church and how to behave in a way that cares for creation and encourages everyone to live in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. Climate change and other ecological matters are hot topics at the moment. Recently there have been many TV and radio programmes dealing with pollution and single use plastics in particular. Some of the statistics are horrendous. We hope to have a wide ranging conversation in the church about this. I will also propose that the focus of our harvest services this year will be “Caring for God’s Creation” - not just talking about it but finding practical ways to act.

As we were in the midst of our conversation about eco-church I reflected that single focus issues always need to be set in a wider context. Caring for the environment or focusing on single use plastics are worthy ideals but they need to be set in the context of all the other issues and challenges that face us, as well as the many positive aspects of our lives that we can celebrate.

I am currently reading a book about culture. In it the author, Daniel Strange, points out that we all live within a culture, defined by nationality, upbringing, ethnicity, religion, preferences etc. That culture shapes our thinking and doing. Depending on how we respond to our culture, we can either live happily within it or we can push at its boundaries, perhaps even rebel against it, and in doing so form new aspects of culture. However, Daniel Strange also points out that it can be very easy to exist within a culture without either examining it or questioning its values. Further, we can be deeply influenced by aspects of culture (or subcultures) that give us messages about how we should live and relate both to each other and our world. The arguably negative culture of celebrity is one example. In other words, we become consumers of the culture we live in. We can also become destroyers of culture through rebellion and anger. However, Strange also highlights the reality that as human beings we are meant to be culture builders too. Rather than simply accepting what is inevitable we have the opportunity to make significant changes that bring positive growth and development within our culture.

When Jesus came to live among us he brought with him and proclaimed a new way of living, behaving and seeing things. Although his work appeared to be mainly in relation to people, we know and understand that it was also about “renewing the face of the earth” (Psalm 104: 30), in other words building God’s culture in the world. Caring for each other and caring for creation amount to the same thing. They are all part of what it means to be Christian and human. As Christians we are called to be equally concerned about the state of our planet as we are with nurturing each other.

At this point issues like recycling, single use plastics and carbon emissions become a “no-brainer” to tackle along with the other more traditional aspects of caring for those in need. Jesus came to proclaim in word and action the Good News of God’s Kingdom. The call of every Christian is to proclaim that Good News by being the hands, feet, eyes, ears and mouth of Jesus in and for the renewal of the whole of creation.

God bless you all.

Stephen

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