- Bloomin’ Lovely
Recently the church held the Bloomin’ Lovely event ending with Songs of Praise outside in the castle grounds. It was a wonderful weekend of celebration. We celebrated the creativity of some of the villagers, we celebrated the artistic gifts of the authors of the books that had been chosen and most importantly we celebrated the beautiful creation that we have been given by God to care for. I am writing this on what is probably going to be the hottest day we have ever had in the UK. In June we had one of the wettest months on record. We cannot but think of climate change when this is happening. Are we really caring for our environment? God’s very first command is ‘Be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over every living thing that moves on the earth.’
Critics of the Bible and Christianity argue that this verse is a major cause of the abusive relationship humanity has had with the earth. The invitation to ‘have dominion’ over the earth and its creatures has, we are told, encouraged us to treat the earth with contempt and to see it as existing only for our benefit and well-being and it is not just in the world today. The Israeli historian, Yuval Harari, in his widely acclaimed book ‘Sapiens’ says this: ‘Don’t believe the tree-huggers who claim that our ancestors lived in harmony with nature. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo Sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinction.’
We are all well aware that we probably need to change our life-style. We only have to listen to the constant laments of David Attenborough or watch various TV documentaries to see what is happening. So do these destructive attitudes and actions spring from that divine command ‘to have dominion over the earth’? I believe the answer is No. The Hebrew verb for ‘have dominion’ does carry the meaning of ‘rule’ and ‘govern’ but it also has links to the word for shepherd so that it has the connotation of care and nurture built into it. Human beings are made in the image of God so we should be reflecting the ways of God. But our selfishness and rebellion against God gets in the way. So my challenge to all of us this summer is: Are there any other ways in which we can care for creation and the environment in our homes and in our churches? I will probably continue this conversation during our Harvest Celebrations…
- January Joy
I am well aware that January in particular can be quite a depressing month and there are a few statistics floating around to confirm that. What with Christmas bills and not enough daylight, this can lead to feeling gloomy. Equally, life could just be a struggle at the moment. Please let me know if you would like the Pastoral Care Team or me to come and visit you because that is what we are here for.
When times are difficult, it can be hard to feel happy, yet I would like to suggest that we can still feel joyful. I wonder if you have ever thought that there might be a difference between happiness and joy? Happiness is more of a fleeting moment while joy is found deep down in our souls. There is a verse in the book of Psalms that says: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy”.
Many people have sought joy but have not found it. It is… not in
- Unbelief – Voltaire was an unbeliever of the most
pronounced type. He wrote: “I wish I had never been born”.
- Pleasure – Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone
did. He wrote: “The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone”.
- Money – Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth”.
- Position and Fame – Benjamin Disraeli enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: “Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret”.
- Military Glory – Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent before he said “There are no more worlds to conquer”.
As I spoke about in Great Ness last Sunday, joy is not a once in a lifetime experience but can be never-ending. Married couples’ joy does not end when the wedding day is finished – their love for each other bubbles over into other parts of their lives. So it is with us. There are so many times that God tells us to ‘rejoice’ in the Bible – not just at Christmas time – and, as we begin to take in the enormous reality that we are loved by him and that he is trustworthy, so our joy at knowing it overflows into the rest of our lives.
Do you want to experience more joy? Do call me if you want to talk about it. My prayer is: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
- Unbelief – Voltaire was an unbeliever of the most
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