Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Appropriate words, you may think to describe the situation in the world today, yet they were written in 1859 by Charles Dickens. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!
It is obvious to everyone that climate change is to a large extent man made, yet we ignore the warnings, or even deny that it is happening at all. We desecrate God's Creation by felling trees at an alarming rate, deforesting large swathes of the world every minute of every day. We insist on using fossil fuels when there are other much more environmentally friendly, and cheaper, alternatives available. We ignore the basic human rights of many of our fellow citizens including the aged and infirm.
The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world at present, has highlighted a truly ugly selfish side of human nature with panic buying and stockpiling by those who do not need to, leading to shortages of essential foods and other supplies for those who need them. In the UK those over 70 and those with serious health conditions are recommended to avoid social contact for 12 weeks, so that this kind of selfish behaviour not only impacts on them but also on the hard working NHS staff who after a long shift helping save the lives of others, find the supermarket shelves empty when they shop for their own families.
However, there are positive signs. Firstly, Greta Thunberg, a Swedish school girl has galvanized the youth of the world to confront politicians and those in power demanding that they take action to reduce carbon emissions and generally take responsibility for the care of the planet. Their efforts seem to be having some effect, for which I thank God. Again, this year the Church of England Lent reflections focus on care for the environment. A recent message asks us to encourage our church to plant a tree whenever someone is baptized. Secondly, earlier in the week two of our neighbours came across to offer help with shopping and etc., when we need it. Later others joined them in offering help. Thanks be to God.
The message I want to get across is to ask everyone to remember Jesus' words: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. John 13:34 NRSV. But we must let that love translate into practical effort, after all 'faith without works is dead' James 2:26 NRSV. So, please ring your aged or infirm neighbour to offer help or just a friendly chat, and plant a tree to conserve God's Creation. Remember we are all one family in Christ. We all have a responsibility for each other.
May the Lord walk with you, and your family, in these trying times.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years