Thursday, July 29, 2021

Reflection for Sunday 6th September 2020

September 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Latest News

Reflection for Sunday September 6 2020
Climate Sunday

Psalm 19:1 The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Matthew 7: 24-27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall.
Luke 12: 13-21 Building bigger and better barns. Jesus said: ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.’

A few years ago, the Church sent me to Orkney. What had I done wrong? you ask. It wasn’t quite like that. Two churches, Baptist and Church of Scotland on one of the Orkney islands, were thinking of going into an ecumenical partnership and wanted a hand working out how to go about it.

And very exciting it was, since to do this I had to embark on the shortest flight in the world. This was from Westray to Papa Westray. Westray is one of the northernmost islands of Orkney and Papa Westray a smaller island not far away where there was a small congregation linked to Westray. The journey lasts 90 seconds. It was a question of sliding into a tiny plane, asking the pilot to shove up a bit, and then you spent most of the time taking off and landing.

But Westray Church has been in the news a lot since, and about something rather important.

This Sunday is called ‘Climate Sunday’ and it is the first Sunday in a small, and quite recent, ‘season’ of the Christian Year, like Lent or Advent. It’s called ‘Creationtide’.

For twenty centuries we have managed fine without it. But things have changed.

It was only in 1989 that the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church made a far-seeing proposal: that the first day of their year should be kept as a day of protection of the natural environment. (For the Orthodox, the church of the East, their year starts on the
1st September.) It was only in 2001 that the other churches, especially as anxiety about the environment grew, welcomed the idea and in due course it grew from being just one day to a whole month of Sundays – literally! Creation-tide runs for the four weeks until the day the church remembers St Francis, who has long been associated with nature, whose day is 4th October.

But why? Well, this was a month (said the Churches, including our own) that would
‘be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change.’

But why Westray? Ah, that remote congregation (which we might have thought out of touch with the rest of us) has just been given a Gold Award for the many years so far it has been committed to environmental issues, not just the occasional study group or sermon but in a way that is part and parcel of congregational life.

The island has 600 inhabitants and, with the encouragement of the church and its minister, a number of island-wide energy projects have been put in place, like the community-owned wind turbine.

Through Lottery and Scottish government grants, they have tackled the houses of islanders where there is fuel poverty and wasted energy. They’ve installed ground source heat pumps (the church itself is heated from deep down within the ground), double glazing, extra insulation, draft proofing.

Since 2007, again in partnership with the church, whole island has made sure all its transactions (including what is sold in the shops) is approved as ‘fairly traded’, so now Westray is a ‘Fair Trade island’.

What’s more, Westray has offered funds to other churches in the islands towards their own work as eco-congregations.

Today at St Drostan’s church, Ian Watt is going to announce to the congregation that Markinch and Thornton also is now an eco-congregation.

Eco-congregation Scotland was founded in 2001, covering all denominations, to encourage congregations to address environmental issues through their life and outreach. There could be special groups; worship and prayer would take account of the climate emergency; individuals would ask themselves how far they damage God’s creation by thoughtless practices.

They might support biodiversity (a greater variety of plant and animal life) and wildlife projects. They may also play their part in national and international campaigns to reduce environmental damage.

So – remember the man who built his house on sand, and the greedy person who stock-piled what was not needed. Creation is a wonderful gift to share and enjoy, not a supermarket to empty.

Another beautiful prayer from an ancient prayer book
Be thou, O Lord, our protection, who art our redemption;
direct our minds by thy gracious presence,
and watch over our paths with guiding love;
that among the snares which lie hidden
in the path wherein we walk,
we may so press onwards with hearts fixed on thee,
that by the track of faith we may come to where thou wouldest have us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Douglas Galbraith

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