All posts by The Rector

Climate Action as Mission

In the aftermath of COP26 in Glasgow perhaps there is a call for Christians to reflect on our response to climate change and our responsibility. In a Grove booklet, with the title above, the authors Grace Thomas and Mark Coleman make some very good points regarding how the church might respond in political and practical ways. They are quick to establish that mission and evangelism are important, although not the same thing. Evangelism is the task of telling people of the Good News of Jesus whereas mission is about doing God’s work on earth. They also establish that the stewardship of creation, given in Genesis, is also part of our responsibility. The authors note that frequently mission and stewardship are seen as separate tasks but their argument is that they can be one and the same, mission through caring for the world.

Among many suggestions they have is that we can look at our own ‘carbon footprint’ (try What is a carbon footprint? | Carbon Footprint Calculator (nature.org) and that of our church and see what we can do to help. It is a sobering thought that our footprints come out in the range 5.0-7.7 tonnes per year whereas countries like Chad, Niger or the Central African Republic have a figure of just 0.1 tonnes per year.

What could we do to our lifestyles, homes and church buildings to give the world a chance in combatting climate change while also letting people know the love of God?

Image courtesy of the BBC

Book Review December 2021

Gloriously Ordinary by Ruth Garvey-Williams

I read this because our very own pioneer ministers in Ballina, Emma and Marian contribute significantly to it along with some other practitioners from around the country.  This is all about incarnational ministry, being Christ in the moment.  The chapters are given a forward by the author followed by real examples from the practitioners and then a reflection again by the author. The chapters touch on: Presence; Mercy; Humility; Listening; Hospitality; Learning and the Gloriously Ordinary.  Ruth does a magnificent job in piecing it all together. I wonder how she could have known what the practitioners were going to say.  The book probably won’t get the readership it deserves but it is great in grounding mission in the here and now.  Buy this one! I will read this one again.

 

Tolerance

The dictionary definition of tolerance is “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own”.  However, I often have observed that those who claim to be tolerant are frequently not so.  For example, Richard Dawkins, the famous Oxford evolutionary biologist and atheist fumes over the evangelism of the Church wanting it banned yet he himself wants the right to evangelize his own beliefs.  Unlike Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and also an atheist, famous for invading the Archbishop of Canterbury’s pulpit on Easter Sunday in 1998. He is very outspoken on a wide range of issues (check out his Wikipedia page) but unlike Dawkins actually came to the defence of a Christian man who was sacked by, I think the local council, because he had said something that they disagreed with.  Indeed, Tatchell himself disagreed with the man’s views but defended his right to express them.

We would all disagree with the opinions of many on a full range of topics, within our own religion and with other religions, on politics and a whole host of other issues but we should respect their right to express their view even if we think they are wrong.  It is only by engaging with others that we learn and as has certainly happened to me had my opinion changed by being willing to engage in dialogue with others.

Image courtesy of socialconnectedness.org

Truly Welcome

When I was a minister in Nottingham we had free evangelical church around the corner from ours but it would be fair to say that a good proportion of our parishioners would not have been welcome there, for they were sinners.  Indeed, I see many a church notice board that says, “All are welcome” when that clearly isn’t the case.  Perhaps a notice that says “We welcome people like us” might be more appropriate.

I cannot remember how I received it but this welcome notice is out there on the internet.  I don’t know if it is a true notice or not but it makes for very interesting reading about our welcome to people not like us.  I share it below:

At St ???? church we extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, dirt poor or just comfortable.

We welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers.

We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself.

You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing’ just woken up, or just got out of prison.  We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Bishop or haven’t been in church since Christmas 10 years ago. Or never.

We extend a special welcome to those over 60 but not grown up yet, or teenagers who are growing up to fast.  We welcome junk-food eaters, vegetarians, tree-huggers, and latte drinkers.

We welcome those who are in recovery, and those still addicted.  We welcome you if you are having problems, down in the dumps or don’t like ‘organised religion’ (we are not that keen either)

We offer a welcome to those who think the world is flat, don’t work, work too hard or can’t spell.

We welcome those who are pierced, inked or neither.

We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as children, doubters and you, whoever you are!

 

That is a lot to live up to but it definitely makes you think, are we truly welcoming of all or just people like us.