A selection of articles from our parish magazine
Issue No 103 Creationtide 2021
Hope for the Future?
The Big Shift
St Edmund’s awarded Bronze but we’re going for Gold (or is that Green?)
A Time to Celebrate and a Time to Remember
Celebrating the love our pets bring us
For Christians, and indeed many other faiths, the stewardship of both the planet and the creatures which inhabit it, has always been part of our faith. When God created the world and humanity, we were given a responsibility to take care of God’s creation. Evidence shows that we are not doing a very good job of that at present! This autumn there will be another Climate Change conference held in Scotland and recent years have certainly seen matters regarding the future of planet Earth rising up the agenda, but it needs to be about more than words.
As I said, stewardship of our world is for many part of their faith. For Anglicans, the Fifth Mark of Mission is ‘to strive to safeguard the integrity of Creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’ This not an optional extra, or simply a contemporary reaction to our current environmental crisis, but rather a genuine return to understanding God’s requirement that we care for God’s creation.
This Mark of Mission powerfully reminds us that God longs for harmony in the whole of Creation, not just in the human family. In contrast, humanity has forgotten its responsibilities and become proficient in spoiling the planet, poisoning seas, rivers and land, cutting down forests, and endangering plants and animals. This is a terrible legacy to leave to future generations.
During 2021, together with our partners at St Andrew’s and St Anne’s,we held a joint Lent course on how climate changes are impacting on the life of our planet and took on board changes that we all need to make. All three Churches have now achieved the bronze award under the Eco Church scheme (see elsewhere in the magazine for details) and are working towards silver and ultimately gold. This award is about actions and how we as Churches and individuals can make a real difference to the planet.
Creation is interwoven into all that we do as Christians, and so this year we are focusing on that, and in our worship are celebrating September as Creationtide. Harvest, our annual thanksgiving for all that we receive from the earth, will be held on Sunday 26 September. The season will end with our Animal Blessing on Sunday 3 October. Here we will give thanks for all animals give to us, as well as accepting the responsibility we have for their wellbeing.
The future of our planet is in our hands, and now is the time to both reflect and pray on the actions we can each take to safeguard it for future generations.
Hope for the Future?
2020 will probably always be remembered as the year that the freedoms on how we lived changed. Coronavirus decimated many things in our lives –our livelihoods, our relationships, our mental health. We saw loved ones taken from us, barriers to where we could go and who we could see. Lockdowns restricted our movements, keeping us closer to home, and less reliant on transport. But fuel consumption, car usage and foreign travel all reduced, giving us an estimated drop of about 7% in worldwide CO2 emissions –the biggest drop we have ever seen. This has allowed the world to begin to recover from the damage we have done to our environment over many years. The hope vaccinations have given us is positive, allowing us to look towards a brighter future, but can we learn something from our recent experience? Rather than going back to how we were before the pandemic, can we use this first step in reducing our carbon footprint as a springboard for creating a better future? How can we stop that 7% being eroded as we move away from restrictions in our lives? Can we all learn to be a bit more responsible in how we live and how our life choices affect the health of our planet? The choice is ours. Coronavirus will always be a terrible disease that brought so much hardship and heartache, but let us bring something good from that terrible time to hopefully improve the life-chances for future generations.
The Big Shift
“Who can stop climate change? We can. You and you and you, and me. And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so that began in the genesis of humanity, when God commanded the earliest human inhabitants of the Garden of Eden to ‘till it and keep it’. To ‘keep’it; not to abuse it, not to make as much money as possible from it, not to destroy it.”
Christian Aid’s major campaign for this year is around climate change and the effects that it is having on people: making these people even more poorer and more destitute then ever before. People are facing the worst impacts of climate change.
Christian Aid is campaigning for world banks and organisations not to invest in fossil fuel as this is the lead contributor to climate change. It is asking for a ‘Big Shift’away from fossil fuel and towards renewable energy in order to build a cleaner and safer world.
The ‘Big Shift’campaign started in 2015. We have seen the UK government agreeing to phase out coal power, and organisations like Standard Chartered and RBS phasing out of financing such projects. But the battle is not finished: there are still financial organisations that are willing to fund these new projects to find new coal. Money counts!
Recently, on the news, we have seen extreme weather changes in American, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and China, which destructive and deadly impact. All these disasters have been attributed to climate change. These are wealthy countries – just think what would happen to the less well off countries, how would they cope?
In November this year, the UK will host the crucial UN climate talks: COP26. Let’s hope that world leaders make good decisions and keep to them, so that this is not another talking shop. We will have to wait and see.
We all need to look at our lifestyles and the way we behave, to take responsibility for our actions, not in 10 years time when it may be too late, but now! If not for us, then for our children and our children’s children.
St Edmund’s awarded Bronze
but we’re going for Gold
(or is it Green?)
We’ve all heard on the news that our world is getting warmer, with some disastrous consequences already having manifested themselves. Whether through wildfires in the USA and Australia, or flooding in Germany, 2021 has brought forth yet more natural disasters that, the scientists tell us, are linked with climate change caused by human activity. This is set to be one of the biggest problems of the twenty-first century, and it’s one that none of us can afford to ignore – for the sake of our children and grandchildren, for all the animals of the world and indeed, for ourselves too.
Although I am first-and-foremost your Curate, a big part of my job is also as Chelmsford Diocese’s Environment Officer. I have now been in this role for about a year, and have spent lots of time helping to create a plan for the whole Diocese of Chelmsford to become carbon neutral by 2030. This means that, in nine years time, we need to have eradicated our fossil fuel-burning activities throughout our Churches, Schools and Clergy Homes. At the moment Chelmsford Diocese emits up to 20,000 tonnes of CO2 from these buildings every year. To put that in context, if you were to put all that CO2 into the space inside double-decker buses, they would stretch from the door of our cathedral, right up the M11 and A1, up to the Scottish Border. Quite alot of greenhouse gas every year, and it’s clear we have to do something about it, before it’s too late.
At St Edmund’s, we have taken the first steps towards this recently. First, we ensured that our electricity is all generated from 100% renewable sources. Electricity consumption tends to be one of the biggest sources of Church CO2 emissions. (Our gas heating is probably a bigger emitter, but unfortunately we can’t do much about that right now.) A lot of the congregation already walk or cycle to Church and I’ve recently switched to doing my Parish rounds on a bike (albeit with an electric motor to help with the big hill on Old Church Road!). We also ran our Lent group this year on the environment, and our friends from St Andrew’s and St Anne’s joined us for this.
Although we don’t have a green Churchyard, we are trying to make the most of our curtilage and have raised money to start a small wildflower raised bed behind the Church Hall. This wasn’t brilliantly successful this year: the very cold and dry spring didn’t help! Nevertheless, we are learning all the time as to what will work and what won’t, so hopefully next year will bring better flowers for our pollinators. More successfully, Lesley created a small pond in the Vicarage garden, to encourage insects such as dragonflies and damselflies back to an area where they might once have been prolific.
We have long been an animal-friendly Church, and this means our cleaning products don’t use products tested on animals and are not harmful to animals or the natural environment, so that was one thing ‘off the list’!
Alongside all this activity, we decided to apply to become an ‘Eco Church’, which is a national accreditation scheme run by a Christian charity called A Rocha International. This gave us a framework to work with, to check that every area of our Church life was as eco-friendly as possible. In some areas, we scored very highly, but in other areas there is still a fair bit to do to get to the gold standard. However, we were very pleased to get our first ‘rung on the ladder’ with the bronze award just last month. This means that every Church in our MMU now can proudly say that they are an Eco Church. Perhaps one day we can be the first ever group of Parishes to achieve gold? Who knows? If we are going to take this seriously, it will take a fair bit of commitment and work. But it is clear that loving our neighbour should mean caring enough not to pollute our world –so right now this is definitely a key issue for Christians (and indeed, for everyone concerned with survival!)
If you have any ideas for how St Edmund’s can do even better with our Eco Church project, or if you would like to be involved, please let me know.
The BBC Teach website poses the question,‘How have we ended up as the most advanced species on a small blue-green planet, orbiting a seemingly insignificant star, in one of the hundred billion galaxies in the Universe?’ It’s a big question, and one (though not necessarily framed that way) that has confronted humankind throughout its relatively-short two-million year existence. Science provides some ego-deflating answers for us, showing that in reality (as the same website continues) “our existence depends on an apparently unlikely sequence of cosmic moments” – a lottery of chance events which accidentally created the right conditions for life. Or, if we take the British physicist Oliver Lodge’s take on it, all the wrong conditions resulting in life “a disease that strikes dying planets.”
The Bible confronts the same question but comes up with different answers. For many this becomes an issue of science vs religion, but ‘Creation’ is more about how we understand and view all that exists, and our position within that, rather than a story of how that all comes about. So, let’s consider some of the aspects of those stories of Creation and how that might inform our thinking and change our behaviour.
‘Creation’: The word itself implies more than just ‘making’. It is about bringing something into existence: something that previously wasn’t there or hadn’t been thought about. In religious belief, it is an intentional act of God as Creator.
Nothing/Everything: The Church teaches that all matter was created ex nihilo (out of nothing). This requires of us a universal rather than a localised understanding of Creation. Creation is not just me, or those like me, or my species, or the animal kingdom, or just life, but Creation is everything that is. Apart from the Creator, there is nothing that is not “Creation”.
Like/Unlike: It (of course) follows that Creation comprises the kindest most loving grandmother to the most hard-hearted warmonger, the prettiest flower to the most virulent garden weed, the cutest kitten to the deadliest virus, the fastest-growing bacteria to the most barren rock in the universe.
Things/Substances: The most well-known of the Creation stories in the Bible is the seven-day Creation in Genesis. There is a symmetry within this passage: where God creates first the conditions for “creatures”, and then populates them. It is not just about “things” but about the environment which supports them and in which they move.
(On Day 1 light is created –on Day 4 the heavenly bodies that emanate this light; on Day 2 water is created and divided above and below –on Day 5 these are filled with flying and swimming creatures; on Day 3 dry land is created –on Day 6 the earth is filled by with land-living creatures: animal and human.)
Visible/Invisible: The creeds of the Church remind us that Creation is more than just what we see or know or sense. “Of all things visible and invisible” not only points us beyond ourselves physically, but to everything beyond our sight: whether that is within our intelligence and can be perceived mentally or things totally beyond our knowledge and imagining.
A good Creation: Genesis punctuates its story of Creation by continually reminding us that each part was seen by its Creator as being good, and this sense of gladness and joy is echoed in other passages: God delights in the whole of Creation, and divine Wisdom is present in every aspect, giggling in excitement and rejoicing in its wonder.
Rather than as details lost in the vastness of the universe, Creation asks us to see every part as God-created, God-loved, and God-inhabited. All equally created by its Creator for no other purpose than for God’s pleasure and delight. There is no pinnacle of Creation, no part subjugated to the advancement of another. There is simply a dependency and interconnectivity, all bearing the “fingerprint” of God.
If as part of Creation, we are called to reflect the image of God: we are called to be creative not destructive, we are called to delight not to use, we are called to love not to indifference, we are called to be generous not to act out of self-interest.
But of course, reflecting God’s image, is not easy, and our tendency is to view everything through a human prism. But if we take Creation seriously the questions remain. What are the impacts of our personal benefit and personal choices, whether those relate to us as individuals, societies, or as a species? What price will we countenance, to ensure our own comfort and pleasure, health and wealth, speed and possessions? For if we lose sight of Creation, we lose everything.
A Time to Celebrate and a Time to Remember
Since our last issue we have been able to celebrate the christening of the children of a friend from the past and remembered those who we had sadly lost.
- Maya and St James were Christened on 25 July. Their father, Charles was a Server at St Edmund’s before he moved out of the area.
- Nancy Bolton: Born, 1941. Died, 9 January 2021. Church Councillor (Methodist Representative).
- Pat Fry: Born, 18 March 1948. Died, 23 February 2021. Treasurer; Church Councillor; Junior Church Leader.
- Gwen French: Born, 11 March 1929. Died, 18 March 2021. Chingford Senior Friends; Sequence Dance Club.
- Bubbles Russell: Born, 3 March 1931. Died, 14 April 2020. Lay Minister of Communion; Church Councillor; Guide Leader.
- Margaret Christie: Born, 10 June 1933. Died, 21 May 2021.
- Pamela Bray (formerly, Pamela Smith): Born, 6 September 1925. Died, 18 July 2021. Church Councillor’ Sunday School Teacher.
Friendship is important for all of us. Will you be seeing a friend soon? Why not make them a braid that they can tie as a friendship bracelet? Or you could use it as a braid in your hair, or to decorate your things. Here’s how to do it.
You will need: a circle of cardboard – old cereal boxes are ideal as they are thin but strong and will not tear; 7 lengths of yarn – about 60 cm long (you can use wool or embroidery thread); a pen, ruler and scissors.
Draw a circle on card – use a saucer or large reel of sellotape – and cut it out.
Use the ruler to draw a line across the middle of the circle; then, one at right angles so you have a cross. Draw lines to divide each area in half. All the lines should all go through the middle point.
Use the scissors to make a hole at the centre of the circle and then cut a slit about halfway from the edge of circle towards centre along each line. Now you are ready to start braiding.
Cut 7 lengths of yarn. You can use any colours but 3 different colours would make a good pattern (3 of one colour and 2 each of 2 others). Use as few or as many as you wish, thinking of the colour of Creation.
Push the threads through the hole at centre of circle and tie them in a knot at the back so they do not pull through. Leave a few centimetres at end so they do not come undone.
Now, on the front of the circle, put one thread along each line and pull into the cut slit at the edge so it is held firm.
You will have one line without a thread. Hold your card so that line is pointing towards you. Count 3 threads clockwise and pull that one up and fix into the empty slit. Now the empty slit is there. Move the card round so the empty slit is facing you again and count 3 clockwise again. Pull that thread up and fix into empty slit.
Repeat this until you have a long enough braid. The braid will grow at the back of your card.
Now release all the threads and pull through the centre hole. Tie another knot and cut off any extra yarn. Leave a few centimetres so it does not come undone.
You can give it to a friend as a bracelet, or wear it yourself. If you want to wear it in your hair, attach it to a slide or clip.
Celebrating the love our pets bring us
On 3 October 2021 at 3 p.m. (Animal Welfare Sunday) we are holding our popular Animal Blessing Service, where we thank God for the gift of all creatures which he lovingly created.
We invite you to bring your pets along to this service. Our pets bring such joy and unconditional love to us and it is at this service that we can acknowledge this. All pets are welcome whether they be cats, dogs, birds, reptiles etc. If someone would like to bring along a photo of a departed loved pet, or perhaps a picture of an endangered species, that is OK too. At a point in the service the names of departed pets will be called out.
Whether or not you have a pet, do come along and experience this special service. We look forward to welcoming you.
© 2021 St Edmund, Chingford