Thoughts as we continue with COVID-19

22 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. […] 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5: 22 – 23; 25 – 26; NRSV)

These past years have changed us. Yes, we long for a return to normal. But whatever normal we inhabit will be different, if only because we are different.

Life is inestimably more valuable now. We have come closer to death. Touched it perhaps – in family, friends or neighbours. Life has become fragmented. You in your small corner and I in mine.

I’m reminded of my mother picking up a remnant, a scrap bit of cloth, piecing it with another, sewing and making something good out of leftover material.

Biblically the remnant was that group of people who survived when times were rough, through famine or illness. Perhaps we are not unlike that remnant.

Our purpose now. To take broken lives, a broken world, and in our particular part of the world, at least, to begin the patchwork quilt of reparation, using what we have however little, who we are however frail, to work as stewards with God. Seeking the Kingdom is not something material. It is to do with living together as though every neighbour of every race, colour, creed, gender, orientation was as Jesus to us and among us.

The new hymn ‘Such a fragment, just a remnant’ reflects on this.

I have a friend who likes jigsaws. A thousand pieces make a picture. Just one missing and it is incomplete. Every person on this planet is as valuable. Each important. All of us have a place. That ought to affirm us. It also ought to open our eyes to affirm one another. All God’s children, ‘brother, sister, parent, child’ as the hymn ‘For the beauty of the earth’ has it.

Psalm 8 says, God has given humanity
 …dominion over the works of our hands;
    you have put all things under our feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

This earth, this planet…our home has been lent to us. Others lived here before us, gathered a harvest, fed on the fruits of creation. Yet over the years we humans have become arrogant, kings of some evolutionary castle, top of the pile. Humanity, we, have seen everything as ours to use, from which to benefit, or to plunder.

Yet the Bible saying that we have dominion over creation is not suggesting we dominate and ruin, but nurture and conserve what has been handed to us. Others will follow us. What will be left for them, our children and our children’s children will depend on us. Whether there will be a harvest next year, in ten years, a hundred years at the moment is down to us, our generation of humanity.

But to care for the planet is just too big a task, and we are numbed by all the calls for climate change, for recycling and all the rest of it. You or I alone can’t achieve what is needed. But bit by bit together we can make a difference – separating out litter, walking when we might have driven, re-using what we might have thrown away, travelling less or in different ways, using different sources of energy.

God in his love for us lent us this planet. Let us love it as if it was our own, of infinite value. Because it is. But it is never ours to possess, but simply to share and value and hand on to those who come after.

May our faithfulness mirror that of God’s faithfulness toward us and may we be faithful one to another and to our neighbours and descendants on this earth.

(Based on a Harvest Festival Service at St Andrew’s Methodist Church, Winsford, Cheshire, UK; October 2021)

Hymn of Justice, Harvest and Development – The earth pleads for justice

The earth pleads for justice, the harvest is wanting

The earth pleads for justice, the harvest is wanting, 
in fire, flood or tempest our crops are destroyed; 
the Spring, once predicted, is desolate, silent, 
excuses are hollow, we’ve done all we can?

The mountains have echoed, or is that God’s whisper, 
the quiet consternation of one in distress? 
A prompting, a question that answers our calling, 
is that your defence, that you’ve done all you can?

While continents crumble and ice caps are melting, 
you sit on your hands, you do nothing at all. 
Wake up to the danger still growing around you, 
and do all you can till your passage is through.

And now in the present let’s work for the future, 
still others will follow, they wait in the wings: 
this planet, its future, its people our neighbours, 
join hands, sing our anthem: ‘we’ll do All We Can!’
Andrew Pratt 13/9/2021

Written at the request of Margaret Parker for Cheadle Hulme Methodist Church to celebrate All We Can (Methodist Relief and Development)
Words © 2021 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd 
Tune: STREETS OF LAREDO/THE BARD OF ARMAGH (Ancient and Modern 551 - YouTube - ); 
ST CATHERINE’S COURT (Hymns & Psalms 660 - Hymnary - )

How a hymn was written – A Song of the Sea – Hymn of the Day – Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland

‘A Song of the Sea’ was published recently on this blog. It is the Hymn of the Day today 30th July 2021. The reflection on it tells how it was written and there is a link to it being sung – click here to follow to the reflection

Hymn responding to Dr Admos Chimhowu’s Seminar for Bramhall Methodist Church’s Climate Change Series

Dr Admos Chimhowu
Global Development Unit, The University of Manchester
Developing policy for sustainable development

Just imagine death and illness, 
overtaking life and health,  
poverty of moral action
favouring our human wealth. 
Politicians take decisions, 
what is their priority:
Love of neighbour? Economics? 
What does Christ expect of me?

Every person on this planet, 
worthy of the dignity, 
dignity of healthy living, 
heir to our prosperity, 
needs the food to answer hunger, 
pure, fresh water for her thirst;
but injustice threads through choices
hoards the best, then trades the worst.

Conflict, climate, infestation, 
ruined crops, polluted streams; 
sign the time for human action:
not just words or empty dreams. 
Faith and politics together, 
people of each race and clime, 
we must join in one endeavour: 
save this earth while there’s still time!

Andrew Pratt 23/6/2021 Words © 2021 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd 
Metre: D
Tune: BETHANY (Smart); LUX EOI

More information click here