Revd Richard Reade
Letter from our Reader John Paulson
In her letter for September, our Curate Anne quoted these words from our partner Mission Agency, U.S.P.G., initials which, as most of you will know, now stands for 'United Society, Partners in the Gospel':-
"Climate change is the most crucial issue facing our generation".
Anne went on to remind us of the Fifth Mark of Mission of the Anglican Communion which is to "strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth".
These also featured in the Family Service which I was privileged to lead at All Saints' in August whilst both Richard and Anne were away. If at the time we thought that U.S.P.G.'s claim was 'over the top', surely nobody (with the possible exception of Donald Trump in the U.S.A. and Lord Lawson in this country) can any longer be in any doubt in view of all the catastrophes which have since hit the world. We were all appalled by the chaos wreaked by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana but this almost faded into insignificance by the disastrous monsoon flooding in North East India, Nepal and especially Bangladesh where one third of the country was under water and thousands died. Then came Hurricane Irma, the strongest category five storm to hit the Caribbean in more than a hundred years which (although it is hard for us to comprehend) flattened 95% of the buildings on Barbuda with similar devastation in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks & Caicos Islands and French territories such as Saint Martin and Saint Bartolome.
An Oxford professor interviewed on the 'Today' programme on Radio 4 confirmed that, whilst climate change does not cause such "extreme weather events" (after all, parts of our world have always experienced monsoons and tropical storms) it undoubtedly exacerbates them. The science behind such a claim, he said, was incontestable.
In the U.S.P.G. booklet to which Anne also referred, 'Faith in a Changing Climate', we are reminded of the words from Psalm 24:-
"The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world and all who dwell therein".
Put another way, this wonderful world is not ours to abuse, to desecrate and to treat as we see fit; we are not freeholders but tenants for life with an obligation to hand it on to future generations to enjoy. The other week Psalm 115 featured twice at Morning Prayer and I was struck by these words:-
I was forced to consider how we, his children have treated that earth and was reminded of a hymn which I chose for the Family Service mentioned earlier. It was written by the Reverend Fred. Pratt Green, considered by many to be the greatest Methodist hymn writer since Charles Wesley. That hymn includes the following challenging verses:-
"God in his love for us lent us this planet,
Gave it a purpose in time and in space:
Small as a spark from the fire of creation,
Cradle of life and the home of our race.
Long have our human wars ruined its harvest;
Long has earth bowed to the terror of force;
Long have we wasted what others have need of,
Poisoned the fountain of life at its source.
Earth is the Lord's: it is ours to enjoy it,
Ours, as his stewards, to farm and defend.
From its pollution, misuse and destruction,
Good Lord, deliver us, world without end".
In the face of all this, how can we respond when we so often feel that anything which we can do is irrelevant? May I repeat the suggestions which I made at the same Family Service:-
1. "Reduce, re-use and re-cycle", the excellent mantra of Derbyshire Dales District Council.
2. Explore 'green' options such as solar panels and electric or hybrid cards. How can you reduce your carbon footprint?
3. Use ECOSIA as your search engine for internet searches because, every time that you do, they plant a tree in parts of Africa most affected by deforestation such as Burkino Faso.
4. Lobby or write to our excellent M.P. What is Sir Patrick McLoughlin's attitude to climate change? I don't know and suspect that you don't
5. Support U.S.P.G. and its global work, particularly its harvest appeal for Madagascar and
6. Pray unceasingly. As Alfred, Lord Tennyson famously said, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of" and, as Romans 8 v. 26 reminds us,"we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words".
Love to you all from John Paulson