What, I wonder, comes into your mind when you think about our harvest festival on this special Sunday? When I think back to my childhood it was all about giving thanks for all the food that has been harvested in and around our village and for those who produced it. Harvest festival is always at this time of the year when fruits, grain, root vegetables have all been safely gathered in in preparation for nourishment during the winter and early spring. As our Vicar said on Thursday, a tradition that was started centuries ago when the thanks giving turned into a huge celebration of local land owners, those who worked the land and of course the local vicar and church.
It’s more than likely that in those days there would have been families who were unable to secure enough food to see them through the hard times and they had to rely on charity from the church of possibly starve. Unfortunately, that is still the case and within the UK there are families unable to buy food due to lack of money and have to rely on food banks, quite often, organised by local Christian organisations. Nothing seem to change.
Even referring to our Gospel reading from Luke appears to ring a bell within today’s society. A man with so much from his harvest that he has to build bigger barns to accommodate all his grain and goods, but what if he died tomorrow, what would happen to his stache? Certainly he wouldn’t be able to enjoy it has he thought for years to come. From the reading we heard him say, 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” 20But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’
Sadly, this is a reflection of today’s world, the bell I spoke about that is ringing. If push came to shove, we actually don’t need everything that we possess to live a relative comfortably life. Look at the Raven, how much money does it have and how much food has it stashed away? But, quite often, we’re always striving for that little bit extra, or in some cases that larger bit extra, in the hope that we will become better off and lead a more healthy and better life. In other words our excuse is that we should really have that much just in case we need it in the future. But remember the rich man in Luke’s gospel?
What Jesus is saying is that is that life doesn’t have to be like that, instead of swelling our bank accounts, our possessions and our status in society; we should be swelling our dealings and connections with God and following his ways. Then we will be amassing contentment, peace and happiness by the nourishing of our souls through his love and grace. Rest in the Lord and be content with him alone and he will give you your heart’s desire.
To me, this desire for striving for something better, something bigger and more modern, in the name of progress, has lead us to the biggest threat to our planet’s survival. How come, I might hear you say? It’s nothing new, and the trend has being going on since the Industrial Revolution when it became possible to make goods quicker and more cheaper by employing machines to do most of the work. And what did these machines use for power, mainly steam produced by burning coal.
Since the 1880s the global average temperature has risen by 1.1C and sea levels have risen by some 8 inches because of melting polar ice. In the 1880s this wasn’t a problem, but now, throughout the planet, this scenario still goes on. Still goes on by a huge scale for the production of electricity by burning coal, especially in China who are the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gases, equating to some 30% of the world’s total emissions And it’s little wonder when the majority of the world relies on China to provide their ‘consumer’ goods. Have you tried to buy and electrical goods that aren’t made in China? Incidentally, the UK are responsible for some 1% of greenhouse gases, in comparison.
The thing is, that the fuels that are used in this way, are actually part of God’s creation and we harvest them for whatever use WE desire. The fuels have been used and abused for dozens of decades, over two centuries in the name of ‘progress’ without none or little thought of what damage this action is doing to God’s creation. What is it that comes to your mind when YOU think about God’s creation? The land, the sea, the fish of the waters, the beasts of the land, the fruits and grains of the earth? But what about us? The terminology in the Bible is that he made mankind in his own image and at the end of creation declared everything was good.
I wonder if God thinks that Mankind is still good when he sees what we are doing to his creation? Her’s a thought, most people think that Humans are responsible for our climate crisis and not a shift in the Earth’s ‘normal’ climatic cycle. It is humans that must change in their attitude, their desires and aspirations for a better life through wealth and possessions, this will surely reduce demand for energy and reduce the need for more power.
I think that the Church has a great mission and outreach opportunity here. WE should be at the forefront of raising this issue, an issue which is a huge threat to God’s creation. It isn’t too late, according to scientists, but if we carry on like we are then it will be. Our own Diocese are aware of the situation and have appointed an Environmental Officer to head this, and also we have our own Eco Church here. But we need to do more.
Here is something to consider, a radical and some may say, crazy idea. In the hierarchy of energy consumption, our churches are relatively low energy users. (Our Treasurer might not think so) But as a starting point my suggestion would be the integration of renewable energy into our church buildings. I think it would be marvellous to install solar panels on our roof and even micro wind turbines on the tower. (Gasps from the congregation) Of course, there would be resistance to this but what a great visible sign and talking point this would create and you never know a possible attraction for those non-church going folk. A outreach to say to our villages and towns, yes, we do really care for God’s creation and the way it is harvested and used for our consumption.
To finish I would like to quote from our O.T. reading from Deuteronomy Ch. 8 V17
. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.
God gave humans free will and control over all his created world; but with that comes the responsibility that we must use this gift to HIS Glory and not our own selfish pursuits. We owe this to our planet, our future generations, ourselves and to God to do our utmost in being better stewards of His creation, and as Christians we should be leading by example.
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