Monthly letter from our minister
Each month our minister Simon, or his assistant Peter, or Ross our Community Minister, writes the introductory letter to our Church News magazine. The latest letter is reproduced here.
Previous letters can be viewed by following the links below.
In this last week, we may well have experienced the hottest day ever recorded in the UK. Here in Exeter, we are blessed by cooling breezes from the sea, yet even here we seem increasingly to experience warm days, dry weeks and more extreme weather. It seems clear to me that climate change is a reality, something affirmed by our City Council when they declared a climate emergency recently.
Whatever we may think of climate emergencies, all of us can see the degradation of the natural environment around us. Apart from the pollution we see in river, field or air, many of us will have noticed that we no longer see the number or variety of nature species we once took for granted. It may well be decades since I last saw a water vole or grass snake and the hedgehogs that once bumbled through our garden no longer seem to come. Despite the summer sunshine, we’ve seen few butterflies on our buddleia and the summer skies seem quieter each year as migrant bird numbers decline. It is apparent that all is not well in this garden of God’s creating.
Whilst wildlife numbers do vary and climate does fluctuate, science and experience tell us that we live on a planet with fewer species that is getting warmer. The heart of the problem is us, our enduring carelessness and insatiable desire for more. At root, the problem is a spiritual one, that we are a restless and unhappy people who console ourselves with acquiring more in the hope that we might satisfy our deepest longings. We struggle to find contentment in who we are and what we already have.
The unconventional Church of Scotland minister and founder of the Iona Community, George MacLeod, used to say that “matter matters”. God is known through the creation he has given and the experience of it through our own physical bodies. God in the incarnation of Jesus has become a very part of that creation, affirming it as sacred and proclaiming that matter reveals the divine. Matter matters to the God who breathed life into creation, who delights in it and who, in Jesus, is renewing it. Matter should matter to us too - both for our own wellbeing and to honour God.
In recent months we have heard much from the unconventional schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, urging us to recognise the severity of the crisis facing us in the environment. She says, “You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us”. Such sad words from someone who I think could be described as a modern day prophet. She has told the rich nations that we cannot continue as we are and for the sake of generations to come must change our ways.
Campaigns to care for our climate have gained huge followings, especially from amongst the young who are present at environment rallies in numbers we can only dream of having in church. Perhaps, though, we should not be surprised that young people see us as irrelevant when our voice on climate change seems muted and we are known more for discussions on matters they think are either not important or no longer needed.
I am delighted that at South Street and Brampford Speke, we have opted for an electricity provider who only supplies power from renewable sources and that we have agreed we should explore joining the Eco Church movement. For the sake of God’s world, we need to go on asking what else we can do or what we should no longer do; we cannot be complacent. And we need to proclaim that we believe the answer to this ultimately spiritual problem is in Jesus of Nazareth, who teaches us to recognise God’s hand in creation and to love our neighbour whether that be person or beast, tree or flower.
Revd Simon Taylor
July 2019 Ross
June 2019 Peter
March 2019 Simon
February 2019 Peter
November 2018 Simon
October 2018 Simon
May 2018 Simon