During lockdown we have met together using Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp. We have had time to walk around our neighbourhoods or spend extra time in our gardens. Without the noise of traffic and overhead planes, we have been able to listen to the birds singing to defend territories and attract mates. Put simply we have rediscover the wonders on natural world that surrounds us. And best of all, it’s free!
We have recognised for some time that nature was under enormous pressure. Human activity, from mining to building new roads and high-speed railways, from clearing forest for agriculture to discarding our rubbish, has been is destroying habitat. Of course, people were concerned about the threats to our environments, but the problem always seems insurmountable.
And then a microscopic organism arrived and changed everything. In just a few short weeks, coronavirus has changed the world more dramatically than years of protest about the dangers of unrestricted international trade that saw the environment as just another commodity to be exploited.
There is much talk about the ‘new normal’. But will that just be a different way of continuing with the same destructive activities as before?
On the other hand, perhaps this is an opportunity to pause, to think about what is important, and to strive for a new normal that sees our role in the world as stewards – tending the planet as a treasure to be passed onto future generations.
Recently, I have been trying to devote a bit more time to Bible-reading, starting with selected extracts from the book of Ezekiel. I wonder, how much of Ezekiel you have read? It is a rather strange apocalyptic style book. Ezekiel experiences a number of
powerful visions of God in all glory, which affect him deeply. But it is quite heavy going, and full of strange imagery, hence my decision to read selected extracts!
The overarching theme of the book concerns the relationship between God and his people. A priest and a prophet, Ezekiel was living in exile in Babylon, denouncing Jerusalem’s poor moral and spiritual life, but at the same time offering hope for the future. The prophet foresees God’s kingdom established in perfect form.
I feel this is a timely theme for us in our times today. We need to be Kingdom people, willing to heed a prophetic voice. Recently, crowds have taken to the streets expressing concerns over racial justice. And the government has been obliged to yield to Marcus Rashford’s campaign to offer more help to children growing up in poverty.
In the midst of this, and other news stories, God speaks through the prophet: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’
I pray that God will put a new heart and a new spirit in all of us to help us to move forward in faith and in trust.
Your friend and Minister, Anthea
On the afternoon of Pentecost Sunday, 31 May, Wessex Synod of the United Reformed Church will be holding a special online service. The service will be available to join live at 4 pm and the recording will be available afterwards for those unable to take part at the time. See wessexsynodurc.org.uk/synod-worship-for-pentecost/ for further details and a list of things to find beforehand for the interactive part of the service.
A candle lit pudding party was planned by the Eco Group to celebrate Earth Hour in March 2020. This was turned into a virtual event due to the lockdown. It made news in the URC. The full article can be found on the URC web site.