Reflection – 11 April 2021

Here’s my reflection for Sunday 11 April.

If you’d like to join in our online worship follow this Zoom link. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85061262911?pwd=SjFoODcvOVdFZUhTengxRVRkNzJPUT09

I am preaching this week – our worship session starts at 11.00 British Summer Time.

Mark

Sunday 11 April 2021 – A Reflection

Call to Worship

Praise God, O my soul!

We stand in awe at Your greatness, O God.

You are indeed great,

robed in honour and majesty.

For covering, you choose light—

     Your clothes, sunset and moonrise.

For a tent, You stretch out the heavens;

for Your roof, You pitch the sky.

You make Your messengers like the winds;

     the breeze whispers Your words.

You placed the earth on its foundations—

     it will never shaken.

How great are Your works, O God!

We stand in awe at all that You have done.

Opening Prayer

For all things bright and beautiful,
For all things dark and mysterious and lovely,
For all things green and growing and strong,
For all things weak and struggling to push life up through rocky earth,
For all human faces, hearts, minds, and hands
Which surround us,
And for all nonhuman minds and hearts, paws
And claws, fins and wings,
For this Life and the life of the world,
For all that you have laid before us, O God,
We lay our thankful hearts before you.

Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Last time we were together we looked at Palm Sunday but the time before I started to look at the responsibility God has given us for the stewardship of our wonderful planet. This comes in the very first pages of the Bible, immediately after the Creation story.

Today I want to talk more about that, and in particular about one aspect of caring for the world which worries me hugely. Climate Change.

Now last time I preached on this subject – about 4 years ago I think it was – someone in the congregation took it upon himself to disagree with me in no uncertain terms, to tell me that what I was doing wasn’t a worship service, that I was abusing my position by making assertions from the front about what I believe (and with which he didn’t agree, maintaining it was all a hoax) – and then walked out disrupting the whole thing and leaving a very bad atmosphere in the room. I hope that doesn’t happen again today.

And I have now got the benefit of the mute button.

As ever though everyone has the right to believe what they like – but frankly there is so much evidence about Climate Change and its effects on the world that I really struggle to understand those who argue that it isn’t happening and that we don’t need to do something about it urgently.

So though I could go through the evidence about Climate I’m not going to. I’m going to assume that you are all convinced of the problem.

What I want to talk about today is the reason why Christians should be in the vanguard of taking action and trying to convince others of the need to do the same.

But first – a reading from Psalm 104

In Praise of the Creator

104 Praise the Lord, my soul!
    O Lord, my God, how great you are!
You are clothed with majesty and glory;

10 You make springs flow in the valleys,
    and rivers run between the hills.
11 They provide water for the wild animals;
    there the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 In the trees near by,
    the birds make their nests and sing.

13 From the sky you send rain on the hills,
    and the earth is filled with your blessings.
14 You make grass grow for the cattle
    and plants for us to use,
so that we can grow our crops
15     and produce wine to make us happy,
    olive oil to make us cheerful,
    and bread to give us strength.

16 The cedars of Lebanon get plenty of rain—
    the Lord’s own trees, which he planted.
17 There the birds build their nests;
    the storks nest in the fir trees.
18 The wild goats live in the high mountains,
    and the rock badgers hide in the cliffs.

19 You created the moon to mark the months;
    the sun knows the time to set.
20 You made the night, and in the darkness
    all the wild animals come out.
21 The young lions roar while they hunt,
    looking for the food that God provides.
22 When the sun rises, they go back
    and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to do their work
    and keep working until evening.

24 Lord, you have made so many things!
    How wisely you made them all!
    The earth is filled with your creatures.
25 There is the ocean, large and wide,
    where countless creatures live,
    large and small alike.
26 The ships sail on it, and in it plays Leviathan,
    that sea monster which you made.

Here’s our first hymn ‘Fill your hearts with Joy and gladness to the best tune ever written – Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

Fill your hearts with joy and gladness,
Sing and praise your God and mine!
Great the Lord in love and wisdom,
Might and majesty divine!
He who framed the starry heavens
Knows and names them as they shine
Fill your hearts with joy and gladness,
Sing and praise your God and mine!

Praise the Lord, his people, praise him!
Wounded souls his comfort know.
Those who fear him find his mercies,
Peace for pain and joy for woe;
Humble hearts are high exalted,
Human pride and power laid low.
Praise the Lord, his people, praise him!
Wounded souls his comfort know.

Praise the Lord for times and seasons,
Cloud and sunshine, wind and rain;
Spring to melt the snows of winter
Till the waters flow again;
Grass upon the mountain pastures,
Golden valleys thick with grain.
Praise the Lord for times and seasons,
Cloud and sunshine, wind and rain;

Fill your hearts with joy and gladness,
Peace and plenty crown your days!
Love his laws, declare his judgements,
Walk in all his words and ways;
He the Lord and we his children,
Praise the Lord, all people, praise!
Fill your hearts with joy and gladness,
Peace and plenty crown your days!

Talk

So what has the Bible got to say about Climate Change?

Absolutely nothing.

Because it wasn’t an issue then. It’s only very recently really – in the last few decades – that it’s become the huge issue that it is.

But the Bible does have things to say about some of the things that climate change brings about.

Some of the things that Climate change brings are more storms and flooding, but also more drought. More extreme weather of all kinds

These things were known to those who lived in Biblical times.

Here’s a very familiar passage from Genesis Chapter 7 about flooding and the problems that brings:

God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to all people. I will destroy them completely, because the world is full of their violent deeds. Build a boat for yourself out of good timber; make rooms in it and cover it with tar inside and out. Make it 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Make a roof for the boat and leave a space of 18 inches between the roof and the sides. Build it with three decks and put a door in the side. I am going to send a flood on the earth to destroy every living being. Everything on the earth will die.

And here’s a passage about drought from Isaiah 19:

The water will be low in the Nile, and the river will gradually dry up. The channels of the river will stink as they slowly go dry. Reeds and rushes will wither, and all the crops planted along the banks of the Nile will dry up and be blown away. Everyone who earns a living by fishing in the Nile will groan and cry; their hooks and their nets will be useless.

But basically if you expect the Bible to be an instruction book that will tell you exactly what to do in every conceivable circumstance you need to read it in a different way. The Biblical authors were writing for people in their own times. A lot of what they had to say has eternal and universal relevance but they’re as likely to write about Climate Change as they are to remind the Hebrews of the importance of backing up their computer files.

So what does the Bible say that means we should as Christians be clear that we need to do something about Climate Change?

Well we started looking at this 4 weeks ago. There’s that passage in Genesis that says this

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
    reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
    the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
    and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”

I think we agreed that if God wants us to be god-like, be in God’s image, that means we must care for the Creation that God has made.

So that’s one reason is there anything else?

Have a look at this video – one of a series of 9 produced by Tearfund on the issue. This one is entitled ‘Climate Change is a Poverty Issue’

You can find the video at https://www.tearfund.org/campaigns/christianity-and-climate-change-film-series

It’s video 2

Climate change affects people, and it affects the poorest most.

You might remember that in Luke’s gospel someone said this

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor…
…to set free the oppressed
     and announce that the time has come
    when the Lord will save his people.”

Good news to the poor, setting free the oppressed.

That’s what Jesus saw as his mission.

So now we’ve identified two good reasons to be concerned and to do something.

Now as we all know sermons are supposed to have three points, but today my last reason to do something about climate change isn’t to do with the Bible.

For me it’s to do with this:

That’s my two grandchildren – Robyn and Jos.

I love them to bits.

And I want them to grow up in a world where there are polar bears, where there is still a Great Barrier Reef and where it snows in this country so they can make a snowman.

Just before I finish there is one more thing I want to say. It relates to my message on Palm Sunday. Because Jesus got to the point on that Palm Sunday long ago when he needed to do something that people would notice. To speak out to people of power, to do something that people couldn’t ignore.

You may have noticed that this banner went up outside our church a couple of weeks ago:

It says ‘Back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill’. It’s promoting a campaign in Parliament to make the Government do more about the climate more quickly.

It’s not the sort of thing you usually see outside a church but I’m really proud that our church was asked to display it and even more so that we said yes. It was only there for a few days but it got noticed. It was featured in the local paper and I’m sure lots of people will have noticed it as they drove by. It’s difficult to miss in that tasteful shade of shocking pink!

You see I think we’ve got to the stage where the churches need to do something that people will notice. To speak out to people of power, to do something that people can’t ignore.

But we also, as a church and as individual Christians need to take actions to bring about change in ourselves.

I’ll speak more about that in four week’s time – after my Sunday off.

Our second hymn is – Touch the Earth Gently

Touch the earth lightly,

                use the earth gently,

nourish the life of the world in our care:

                gift of great wonder,

                ours to surrender,

trust for the children tomorrow will bear.

We who endanger,

                who create hunger,

agents of death for all creatures that live,

                we who would foster

                clouds of disaster–

God of our planet, forestall and forgive!

Let there be greening,

                birth from the burning,

water that blesses and air that is sweet,

                health in God’s garden,

                hope in God’s children,

regeneration that peace will complete.

God of all living,

                God of all loving,

God of the seedling, the snow and the sun,

                teach us, deflect us,

                Christ reconnect us,

using us gently, and making us one.

Time for Prayer

Prayer for Creation

Creator God, We thank you for the beauty of your Creation, and for giving us the privilege of caring for it. We confess that we have not cared for the earth with the self-sacrificing and nurturing love that you require of us. We mourn the broken relationships in creation. We repent for our part in causing the current environmental crisis that has led to climate change.

Faithful God, sustainer of all—we pray with hope, because you are already at work through Christ to reconcile all of creation to Yourself and to renew all things.

Loving God, help us to turn our lives around to be people of restoration. Help us build just relationships among human beings and with the rest of creation. Help us to live sustainably, rejecting consumerism and the exploitation of creation.

God of justice, give us courage and persistence to work for justice for those most affected by environmental degradation and climate change.

God of mercy, hear the cry of the poor who are already suffering and will continue to suffer water and food shortages and who will be displaced by climate change.

Creator God, give us your Spirit to work together to restore your creation and to hand on a safe environment and climate to our children and theirs. Let our care for creation be our act of worship and obedience to you. Your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Finally we will close by saying the grace:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

and the love of God

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all

evermore.

Amen

If anyone has any questions or comments about the above, or would like to talk to me about it don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Mark Taylor

07954 172823

newarkcongregational@virginmedia.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.