Eco-Congregation Scotland is taking a baton to Paris, to express the demands of churches in Scotland that negotiators agree to a deal that promotes global climate justice. The baton, which will pass around churches in Scotland throughout the summer of 2015, will carry the hopes and aspirations of Christians across Scotland for climate justice to be central to any agreement reached at the conference.
What is happening ?
- Greyfriars Recycling of Wood have made a baton for Eco-congregation Scotland from recycled church furniture.
- The baton bears the message Time for Climate Justice: Churches in Scotland Demand a Deal in Paris, December 2015.
- The relay was launched by Aileen McLeod MSP, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform at our Annual Gathering on 25th of April:
- In December 2015 the baton will be taken to the UN climate change conference in Paris to share our message with other churches and delegates.
See where the baton is going
You can have a look at this map and calendar of where the baton is going to get an idea of when it will be in your area. There are two batons in order to cover as much as Scotland as possible (which is why it will appear that it is in two places at once on many dates!). Green markers indicate where the baton has travelled so far; red markers indicate where it will be going.
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If you are a local church congregation you can book the baton to visit your church when it is passing through your area. As the route is dependent on who signs up please contact us as soon as possible to get your name on the list. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (or use our contact form here) stating the name of your congregation, its location, plus your name and phone number. We will get in touch to arrange a date.
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We ask that all congregations receiving the baton do the following:
- Fill out one of the postcards and post it to us so we can collect them together and give to the Climate Change minister to show where the baton has been.
- Contact the local press (newspaper or maybe local radio).
- Put an article in your own church magazine.
- Contact other local congregations (of all denominations) and ask them to take part.
When you receive the baton there will be a pack containing printed information. If any of this is missing you can download a copy here:
- Information sheet for congregations explaining what the baton relay is all about.
- Leaflets to give to the general public or congregation members.
- Postcards (front | back) to send to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Minister to tell her where the baton is .
- Advice for contacting the local media.
- Press release (Word format | PDF).
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If you see the baton, tell us where it is, hashtag: #cop21baton
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A friend in the Netherlands asked me for a suitable version fo Psalm 104 to acknowledge and celebrate Creation . I sent links for various existing versions, but also this paraphrase.
A paraphrase – and there are several well-known Bible versions which fall into this category – is a Bible Reading, with preaching built in.
Loud I shout out; it’s what defines me:
for all I am speaks highly
of my Leader: God and Guide.
Nobility, integrity-arrayed, as sky-light clothes you,
Immense the skies’ pavilion, taut you pitched
as rafters of your dwelling span the seas,
you drive the rain-clouds
gliding high on wings of wind
that in their turn bear urgent news
as do your servants, fire and flame.
The Earth, you have enthroned robustly;
Robed in deepest blue, which in its turn
Stands proud aside at your rebuke
And when you make the point with thunder
waters shall retreat.
Indeed, the waters, should they rise again,
to threatening levels, over land
will do so not as you require,
who set them in their place, providing space
for life to thrive.
And in the meantime water gushes
bringing life between the hills,
hydrating wildlife so that even
wild asses quench their thirst.
And habitats diverse with birds
the choirs of branches green and growing.
We visualise you: garden-tender of the mountains:
fruitful work that causes Earth to smile.
Grass, growing, ‘cos of you feeds all the cattle;
whilst rooted plants in partnership
enable Earth to nourish us
and gladden human hears with wine
as faces shine with plant-oil,
bread is broken, giving life.
God’s watering of trees is generous
In Lebanon the cedars which God planted;
trees where small birds build their nests
-the stork’s at home in fir trees.
and habitat for wild goats, up mountain-high
shared : safe-house for the hyrax.
The moon, you made, defines the seasons;
Your sun’s aware of time for setting,
relinquishing the light to your hands:
night is summoned, filled, as humans sleep
exploding life nocturnal in the forest:
when roading lions young
shall look to God for prey,
though in their turn, at daybreak take their rest
and lie down in their dens;
the morning shift of people then set out to work
a full-day’s labour, till the work is done.
My God, diversity, abundant, wonder, beauty
all your wisdom’s offspring,
creatures, such as us, and others,
fill the whole wide earth:
Yes: over there the great wide sea
which may be measured, never grasped;
more life than we can comprehend;
our ships may come and go,
no more than touch the surface
of Leviathan’s playground
law unto themself, for your joy, not our profit.
All this life that looks to you for food
within due time and season.
When they harvest what you offer,
from your hand; with good things they are filled
When you hide your face, distress ensues;
You take away their breath: it’s death
for us and all that’s living;
dust to dust, and so life’s circles turn.
You breathe again, and life, and flesh reborn
adorn the face of Earth made new.
May the wondrous shining love of God endure forever!
God, rejoice in all that’s made!
God, nonetheless, who makes Earth tremor
God: volcanoes smoke your power!
As for me: here’s what defines me:
singing lifelong, mind and body
gratitude in work and worship:
aiming high for justice in my
thoughts and deeds and prayers.
And, all that said, acknowledge:
unjust choices, God-entrusted:
our extinction is an option if we choose
But may this define me:
all I am speaks highly
of my Leader: God and Guide.
Swimming with Christopher. Two ambushes.
“Hey, Father, will you bless this for us?”
I had come, for peace and quiet, up the road on my bike, to the ancient Holy Well of St Gwenfrewi ‘ at Holywell/Treffynnon, ‘the Lourdes of Wales’, cared for for the whole church, at that time, by a small, hospitable, group of Catholic sisters.( Maybe Lourdes is the Treffynnon of France! But I haven’t got there…. yet!).
Perhaps back then I was far too cautious, and had not, as a hymn-writer friend recommended, immersed myself in the icy waters, even though I had been impressed with the Spirituality of Ann Griffiths, the Creation-aware Calvinist poet who had described prayer as “swimming in God”. I touched the water. I tasted it; enjoyed the quiet wet noises and the ancient stonework.
I hadn’t known what to make, back then, of a member of my congregation who had been involved in the piping and channelling to make sure that the Well remained a well, and thus held the firm but regrettable opinion that such enabling engineering work would have banished any imagined holiness proper to a “natural” spring.
I might have reminded him, nowadays, of the holiness of all water, and indeed, of his own labour, in facilitating a beautiful, ancient, place of prayer, but it takes a few years after the (unintentionally) stifling trauma of college and assessments, before you can begin to say what really needs to be said.
Some of us never escape.
Though now I’m in a double bind, because, all the more, to do this job, I have to stick my neck out. And encourage others – even those in training – in the recklessly responsible discipline of meaning what you say. Which is the last thing in the world our culture expects of harmless people of faith like you, dear reader!
And it’s sometimes the last thing the Church expects, even of its leaders.
I had chained my bike, with the baby-seat prominently visible, to the railings. The staff knew very well who I was, and in fact, I went on, soon after, to organise an ecumenical bike pilgrimage [which would be a great eco-idea now?] with Holywell as a destination, and worship in the largely disused historic chapel. We got on well.
Duty and the diary persuading me I’d spent sufficient time with the water, I walked back, in black shirt and clerical collar, through the souvenir area, which was where the eager pilgrims caught me.
The staff suppressed a giggle, and looked away:
“Hey, Father, will you bless this for us?”
I’m fairly sure one of the items was a ‘St Christopher’, an item of significance in folk spirituality well beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church. But just as, when Princess Diana was killed, I was asked to do “something creative”, but it took place in the Catholic church ‘because they had candles’, this was a time when the faith of the people was more important than the brand of the clergy.
So I did what was asked, with integrity, asking that God might remind us, through the items they had bought, and as we travel, of the holiness of water, the roads we travel, and the places we pause to pray.
The pilgrims went away satisfied. I climbed back onto my bike with the baby-seat a few minutes later.
North Wales was like that. When my son was born, an RC neighbour stopped his car over the road, wound down the window and yelled “I suppose we’ll have to call you ‘Father’ now!”. The Fflint Catholic Club gave me a farewell party when I left.
It’s a humbling irony that, being an incurable and maybe slightly smug non-driver for most of my ministry, I now cover some substantial distances as a ‘travelling salesman’ of the Green Gospel .
Three years ago, after my wife’s death, driving was a bizarre new experience, requiring next to no physical effort, but intense alertness.
My reward is that I rejoice in the changing scenery [LINKS FOLLOW ] (Glencoe, the Drumochter Pass, and the Dalveen Pass, Glenshee and, of course, the road across Mull, have been highlights.) “Travelling mercies” are part of my daily prayer, and I much appreciate being upheld in that way. I encounter graciousness ( as in those experienced with the etiquette of Scotland’s single track roads) and of course, I encounter entitlement, boorishness and impatience, all amplified by powerful engines. (The selfish expression of power, via the accelerator, burns more fuel.).
As yet, though, no ‘sacred’ items (other than those I travel with directly to lead worship) accompany me. But the Earth itself is sacred.
Maybe that’s why, returning by train (phew) from study leave in Germany, I was ambushed by St Christopher.
With three hours to change trains in Cologne, I made my way to the rather wonderful cathedral there. Revisiting the shrine of those wise travellers, the ‘Holy Three Kings’…
When I saw a great figure looming out from one of the pillars. He looked rather rustic, with a touch of Father Christmas. But perched, like Timon on Pumbaa’s back, was the figure of a small child. The genius of the statue was, the closer you looked, the harder a time Christopher seemed to be having.
“Carrying all the weight of the world on his shoulders”
…came to mind. I checked the Catholic Encyclopedia and other easily accessible sites on my phone. You can do likewise.
What spoke to me there was the adoption of Christopher as a patron saint for “motorists.”
Driving used to be a morally neutral activity. Though each time, now, I turn the key, I needs must ask if it’s worth it. For now, perhaps, in pursuit of change, but not indefinitely.
It was part of my journey, as I began this role, to publish “a blessing for a new car”. Maybe I need to revisit that, as time goes on.
The summarised stories of “Christopher”, martyred for his faith around 251 ad told of someone who took up on the “easy” job of transporting the [Christ]-child across a torrential river.
Like those of us who drive. It’s easy, effortless by comparison with walking or cycling. But perhaps in the awareness of the Climate Crisis, we’re becoming more aware of the “weight of the whole world” pressing down in the midst of what seems harmless and straightforward.
Recently publicised revelations about the cobalt in batteries for electric vehicles offer us slender respite.
I am one of you. Today, and next week, I travel on your behalf. Together, and sooner than we might like or expect, we ( including me) need to embrace, not just new ways of doing exactly the same things, but new ways altogether.
I wonder what Christopher had to let go of, to reach the far bank?
For me, now, the story of Christopher, who, in the midst of the river, feared he might drown, offers a companion in the transition we face before we can “get to the other side” .
We’re in the river of change. ( Swimming, perhaps, in God?) . And we need to come to feel both the weight of what we carry, the burden of the planet’s life, and the importance of Who comes with us, and Who it is, who sees us through.
21 st of June 2019
Burghead Green Walk
A Walk and Spiritual Reflection with Moray Network
In the evening, on the longest day of the year, twenty of us set out for a walk along the beach at Burghead. Glorious light and the sound of the sea surrounded us as we stopped on the beach and gathered round for the first of six stops on our journey. At each stop there were prayers, and reflections on the changes to the natural environment as we moved from the barren sand, through the towering dune system into the more fertile forest area, planted to keep the dunes in check many years ago. These reflections were also compared to our Christian Journey, as we grow and mature in a community of faith. At our last stop we sang “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom” before returning to Burghead Free church hall for a welcome cup of tea and cake.
A super walk in friendly company. I am looking forward to next year’s walk…. It will be an event not to be missed.
- Here are some thoughts on my study leave at the German ‘Evangelical’ Churches’ ‘Kirchentag’ a gathering when churches take over a city and offer 2000+ events ( services, concerts, seminars, etc). My brief was to seek out from amongst all this, things with a relevance to my work as Environmental Chaplain. Here it is as a report in PDF format.
Fairlie Parish Church ran a very successful Bring and Buy sale on the 30th of May.
People outwith the church gave some delightful home made cards, dainty baskets for gifts and smaller ones containing a Ferrero Roche chocolate. There were donations of plants, books, marmalade, baking, pashminas, toiletries and jewellery. People were also wonderfully generous with donations of money. The final total raised was £198, which will be gratefully used to help support events in the region.
Fairlie first registered with us in 2002 and have done much work since then, for example in renovating their building to be more energy efficient, beach clean-ups, and community involvement. They have received three awards from us in recognition of this work. They also have a regular column in their newsletter highlighting environmental concerns which is a wonderful way to keep these issues fresh in the minds of the congregation.
Well done Fairlie Parish!Continue reading →