Monday, January 9, 2017

Europe's Greenest City



Late last year Christine and I (pictured at the top outside the bishop's palace) were very fortunate in being able to join an Oxford diocese link visit to Vaxjo in Sweden where the theme of the exchange was the environment. We stayed in a church-run college and visited a variety of sites in our three days, including the biogas plant pictured in the middle (part owned by the church because they own a farm whose cows produce some of the manure) and the rapeseed oil powered crematorium (lowest picture). We also learnt about some of the problems with using rapeseed oil at a church whose boiler had ceased functioning but which was part of a deanery where they are rolling out a very high tech plan for long distance controlling not only the heating and dehumidfying but opening and closing up the building and even ringing the bells. After we got to England I gave a presentation on our experiences after church one day and the text for that is now attached as a page to this blog.
I promised to put a link to their bishops' letter on the environment - that is here.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Simplicity

We've enjoyed two really excellent sermons for the end of Creation Season. Last week's was part of the series on understanding what is happening in the different elements of a communion service and was focused on the Eucharistic prayer itself. It included some beautiful lyrical moments and environmental theology. The week before's was responding to the reading on Jesus's words to the Rich Young Man and it was one of those sermons where I find myself sitting on my hands to avoid applauding at the end. Richard didn't actually use the phrase Joy in Enough but the concept ran through the sermon and he included some suggestions on embodying simplicity from a book by Richard Foster. He had also typed these up for people to take home at the end. They were:
1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status or prestige.
2. Learn the difference between a real need and an addiction. Then find support and accountability to regain "sobriety", freedom from addiction.
3. Develop a habit of giving things away.
4. Avoid unnecessary and short-lived technological gadgets that promise to "save time".
5. Enjoy things without owning them. Fore example, take advantage of public libraries and parks.
6. Nurture awe and appreciation for nature. Spend more time outdoors!
7. Get out - and stay out - of debt.
8. Use plain, honest speech. Say what you mean and keep your commitments.
9. Reject anything that oppresses others. For example, buy Fair Trade products.
Seek God's kingdom of love and justice foremost. If anything distracts you from that purpose, let it go.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Reaching Bronze

Here's how our survey result looks right now. I'd like to say we've been working really hard since the initial survey to move so far forward, but in truth I completely misread it the first time round - what I thought was grey 'not quite there yet' is really silver, so (having no more land than a driveway and a walled bed) here we are at bronze and it's time to send off the application form. The announcement was made at our harvest service.

Meanwhile 26 letters have so far been despatched to MPs as part of the Week of Action on Climate Change, we're trialing the use of far more Traidcraft products in church (needing to work out how to make up the extra costs incurred), and we've been thinking lots about Creation in the last two Godly Play sessions (Creation Stories followed by Fall Stories) - as usual I forgot to take any photos of the wonderful art work which included some great models of the Garden of Eden (helped by all the foliage I'd brought in).

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Creation Stories in Godly Play

It's the second week of Creation Tide, beautifully reflected in the little bit of the main service I was present for. In Godly Play today we covered Genesis 1 and 2 - the first Creation Story is a standard Godly Play story that I've told often before (Creation presented as a great gift with seven images placed along a cloth) but this time there was more in the box: the second Creation Story. (Like the Abraham stories I used 3D figures for this - rather than the 2D for non-historical stories - but it helped make a contrast that at least one of the children was enthusiastic about). I asked them to wonder why we have two stories and what we gain from each. It was also a great excuse to use up some more of the rather large amount of clay we had left over from last week - their models included a veloceraptor with its nest and a couple of pokemon.