Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This week's communion bread was made with Oxfordshire wheat ground in the last working watermill on the River Thames (Mapledurham) and olive oil from Palestine. Just as we began to gather to receive, so a delicious smell of cakes baking wafted in from the kitchen where the Exclaimers were baking in preparation for our harvest service in a fortnight (the cake will be frozen in the meantime!).

I announced that I will be hosting some films over the next few weeks appropriate to the Season of Creation. We're starting this Thursday with Home, a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (who produced the book Earth from the Air). This was recommended to me by Matt Freer when I mentioned that I found Age of Stupid too angry. I've not watched much of it myself but what I have seen is a stunning celebration of the variety and beauty of our planet.

St Barnabas, Emmer Green

Last Thursday evening I was invited to share some of our experience of Eco-congregation with members of St Barnabas, Emmer Green. We watched the Operation Noah film, God is Green first. This proved an excellent starting point for discussing Christians' roles in the climate crisis which led into deciding what the congregation of St Barnabas should do. It felt a very productive discussion at the end of which they had decided to start putting green tips in their newsletter and to bring the Eco-congregation environmental check up before the next PCC.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Living in a Fragile World

For this first Sunday in our Season of Creation I rashly promised to lead the Exclaimers on the same theme as the sermon without having first looked at the sermon notes on the ctbi website. I was consequently rather challenged to realise that the reading was Proverbs 1:20-33 in which Wisdom chastises foolish men for not listening to her and says she'll mock them when disasters strike. I decided to begin with an adaptation of the first Godly Play session from Living in a Fragile World. This is a wonderful resource which I'd highly recommend using, but I discovered that it really needs to be used properly with all the Godly Play trappings of a carefully laid out room, children filing in slowly with shoes off and sitting at a distance from the objects with which the story is told etc. My version descended into chaos as the kids, hyper for the first session of term, could lean over and move the pieces to set up satellites, space hotels etc. It was interesting and depressing to see their lack of faith in humankind's ability to sort out the mess we've created. Hopefully we can make the next few sessions more optimistic in this respect.

We were back in the church for communion, the first with home made bread. When full-flavoured focaccia represents the body of Christ it is thought-provokingly different from a bland white slice. It feels like real nourishment.

The sermon, which I missed, apparently drew on the connection between Jesus and Wisdom in creating the world, on the importance of recognising that the world was created 'through Wisdom' (there is reason . . . a science to it) and concluded that Christians can respond to the negativity of the new 'grand narrative' of climate change with wisdom drawn from the Sermon on the Mount: that to 'travel light' is a joyful experience.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Season of Creation

Summer holidays are over and Time for Creation is here again. Our church has decided to extend the Season of Creation over the next two months, in part because it begins so soon after the holidays that no one is quite ready for it until it's half over, in part because that avoids having to go back to Pentecost Season for a month before Kingdom Season begins.

Today's service was looking at our relationship with the much wider community - our church's connections with Nepal and in particular the INF. For the meal after the service we tried to use stuff from our own gardens - this led to many very delicious puddings (the golden plums in the crumble I ate were apparently picked only yesterday afternoon) - and a good quantity of courgettes/marrows in the ratatouille.

We've decided to use Fair Trade wine for our communions this season. We may well continue with this afterwards, or experiment with local/organic options. We've also asked people to sign up on a rota to bring home made bread for communion and I was delighted at how quickly this started filling up. Again, we hope this might end up extending beyond this season.

We've decided to use the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Time for Creation resources for our sermons for the early part of the season when they tie into the lectionary.

On October 22nd there will be a Tearfund Climate Justice evening at St John's to which all are welcome.

Hopefully there will be few other events through the season, including a clothes swap evening and perhaps a couple of film showings.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


We're just back from Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. A large number of our congregation are now Greenbelt regulars and there was certainly plenty of environmental stuff at Greenbelt this year. For me the green highlights included wild food foraging with Earth Abbey before the Sunday service (see picture), an enlightening workshop with one of the makers of the Age of Stupid and Tamsin Omond's passionate call to non violent protest (and John Bell as always - this time regarding Sabbath for people and planet). I also made my contribution to Christian Aid's mass visual trespass (a video petition to be projected onto a public space), calling on Gordon Brown to get his priorities right and be present at Copenhagen this December. However, as I began my ambitious plea about halting the melting of the Arctic sea ice I found my words stumbling in recollection of Alistair McIntosh's lectures. These were profound, heartbreaking and hugely important - he talked of the inevitable burn out of activists as we see most of the world failing to respond and crucially of the need to recognise that too little is happening too late so that, whilst still doing absolutely everything we practically can to halt climate change, we also need to prepare ourselves spiritually for the catastrophe.