Letter from the Vicarage
The Parishes of Northwold, Wretton with Stoke Ferry and Whittington
This is the time of harvest festivals. As a Christian I believe in a Creator, the originator, the driving force and sustainer of the whole material world. I read of such a God in the Bible and my experience of the Divine fits with what I read. Moreover I believe in and love a God who delights in creation - all of it - not just the people. I believe in a God who loves his creation enough to be fully a part of it in the person of Jesus. I also know that this world is groaning under the weight of human greed and misuse. Greed and misuse often condoned or encouraged in the past by the Church and its supporters, to the lasting shame of both.
This, if I believe it, cannot but effect the way I live. It is these realities that led me to consider leaving full time parish ministry to be free act within a society that is largely indifferent to the needs of any one or anything outside of themselves. I am still here in these parishes because while studying I came to realise that I could act more effectively from here. At the same time as this realisation came, I was given the opportunity to use my new skills in environmental management to help the Church that I love give a lead in the way that it considers the environmental consequences of all of its policies and actions. Staying also gives me the opportunity to learn how to put environmental concern into practice at a ordinary parish or household level.
Staying is an opportunity for me to show that the ecological crisis is a spiritual crisis that goes to the very heart of what it is to be human. A spiritual crisis because it comes out of our lack of practical recognition of the value of anything not ourselves nor our human and non-human neighbours. It comes from a lack of respect for the whole of creation which is full and brimming over with the presence of its creator; ourselves, each person, the land, sea, air and sun that sustain us. I hope that if the Christian Church (along with all people who know within themselves that the world is precious) can bring about a fundamental change in the way that our society treats the world we find ourselves in. We, here and throughout the country, are the politicians, the managers and the consumers who drive our economy. If we consciously try to consider the ecological consequences of the decisions we make at home, at work, while shopping, we might still have the time to save ourselves from the disaster of barren soils, poisoned air and water, and flooded land.
If you ignore what is happening. It will just come and get you, and soon. When you look up from burying your head in the sand it will be to find that the field out the back is an open landfill site - where else can the sacks of rubbish go? You will find that the floods intensify or are replaced by droughts as the complex weather patterns change and sea levels rise. If you ignore what is happening you will be part of the problem. You will be partly to blame; but maybe just maybe we still have time to avert an environmental disaster that is very nearly upon us.
So this harvest time there are many practical spiritual and physical things that can be done. Please see my short environmental column or watch this space. If you have any ideas or comments please let me know.
Revd Nigel Tuffnell