Pleased as man with men to dwell

WhatsApp Image 2018-12-15 at 10.22.36In 3 days I went to 3 very different celebrations. The first was a surprise birthday party to which people had travelled far and wide to attend. The food was great, the company even better and the banter was both hilarious and deeply significant.  The birthday recipient was honoured with moving tributes about loyalty, dependability, vulnerability and faith. The speeches all told about how this person gave himself so freely to help restore the broken and lost, often requiring great patience, time and faith. Amidst the celebration I think I got a glimpse of the incarnational splendour of Christ, the creator powerful God in absolute humility and vulnerability being with us (the broken and the lost) through Jesus. Truly at Christmas we celebrate ‘God is with us’

The next day was Bethlehem the Musical … ‘Bethlehem, Bethlehem, say hello to 20181216_180402Bethlehem’ Yes, I’ve had that song running through my head all week too.  This was a celebration of the wealth of talent and diversity we have at RBC.  In both cast and behind the scenes we had such a spread of ages it was amazing to see performers from approximately 8 – 80 on stage together.  Behind the corny jokes was an incredibly challenging message about hospitality, community and welcome which is very apt for our Brexit dominated times. The glimpse of Christmas was not the rather fetching nativity costumes but the message of God’s utter humility. It’s hard to capture how insignificant places like Bethlehem and Nazareth were in biblical times, much like a run-down, out of season, passed its sell by date holiday village. Yet that’s where God chose to manifest – not the bright shiny big city- what does that tell us about God? A huge thanks to the cast and crew of this magnificent show.

The next day was a celebration of a great person’s life at a service of thanksgiving. Again, the church was full, guests coming from far and wide to pay tribute. There was a beautiful balance between acknowledging the staggering pain and sadness that comes with bereavement and loss whilst celebrating the hope, faith and assurance that Christians have. This is where my faith makes so much sense to me.  This hope we have though is only possible through the Christmas story. Our God knows what it means to live and die. Truly he is with us.

There’s a few more celebrations still to come. Later today the staff team are having their Christmas ‘do’. This team work incredibly hard, often going above and beyond the job description to help RBC function as it should. So, it’s good to get together out of the building, and let our hair down and have a few laughs.

Room for one more - LOGO 3On Sunday we are celebrating what looks to be a beautiful carol service, with traditional hymns and readings. I am so looking forward to this service which will provide us with that pause we all need to stop, re-centre and focus on what Christmas is all about.

May the joy of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, the worship of the wise men and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas; and the blessing of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you always,

Have a wonderful Christmas

Signiture

COP24

I’m very pleased to introduce another guest blogger this week. I was so inspired by the reports and accounts of the Justice conference that our ‘Live Justly’ group attended last month, I’ve invited Ruth to blog about climate change, over to you Ruth  ……….

Image result for COp24 katowice 2019

Do you know that there are important climate talks going on in Katowice, Poland? These talks are called COP 24 (or 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)) and are being held from 2nd to 14th December. In 2015 after years of negotiations, 195 nations committed to work together to tackle climate change and keep the earth’s temperature rise below 2 degrees (a very dangerous level for the world). This deal is known as the Paris Agreement and the way that this is worked out going forward will be the nitty-gritty of the talks in Poland.

COP24 What is it all about?

I find myself more and more concerned about climate change because I believe that as Christians we are God’s ‘image bearers’ and we have been entrusted by God with this beautiful earth and called to care for it. Instead we in the rich world are the biggest culprits in climate change due to our over consumption of the world’s resources and the effects are hitting the poorest people of our world first and hardest, those who have contributed least to the problem. I feel that if we claim to love God and love our neighbour, then we should care about our global neighbour being harmed by climate change (Luke 10 v 27)

At the beginning of November a few of us from RBC attended the first UK Justice conference, hosted by Tearfund. A few weeks before the conference the Inter Parliamentary Panel on Climate change (IPCC) issued a report which highlighted that governments and individuals need to make large-scale changes within the next 12 years to put the world on track to 1.5°C of global warming. Every single fraction of a degree will matter to reduce the devastation on people’s lives from floods, storms and droughts.

During the week before the conference a World Wildlife Fund report stated that globally, humanity has now wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970. The report says, “Nature contributes to human wellbeing culturally and spiritually, as well as through thecritical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination and floods,”

During one of the worship sessions at the conference, we sang the old hymn, ‘How great thou art’ which begins with a sense of delight in meeting God through creation. I found myself literally sobbing at the thought of the numbers of creatures (animal and human) born out of God’s creativity, whose populations have been, and will continue to be, decimated by our greed and selfishness. I felt that God was giving me a sense of his depth of feeling about the ways we have treated his beautiful creation and a sense of urgency that we need to Pray and Act.

Pray.

So, as guest blogger this week, can I encourage you if you can, to take some time this week to pray for those involved in the climate talks in Poland. This COP is a crucial COP. An ambitious deal in Katowice includes agreeing fair, robust and transparent rules to turn Paris into action, finance for developing countries to adapt and stronger commitments and national country plans by 2020. It may seem impossible to do, but with faith, it will be possible. Prayer is part of our response – it connects us to God and will also shape the way we respond to these issues.

There are some prayers to help you here:-

Pray for the climate resources

Act.

Andy and I have been on a journey for some time in response to God’s prompting about living more sustainably and believe that we all have a part to play in reducing our personal contribution to climate change. We have been trying to walk and cycle more, using the car less and public transport where possible. We have further reduced the amount of meat we eat as the meat industry contributes significantly to climate change in the energy it uses and the gases emitted. We have changed to a renewable energy supplier and changed our bank accounts to one which doesn’t invest in fossil fuels. These feel like small steps but they are also acts of worship and I don’t feel we can call on government and business to make changes unless we are first prepared to make them ourselves.

Speaking up for change: The Paris Agreement on climate change is a brilliant step, but we need to keep reminding governments to implement it and stick to their climate commitments. You can join Christian brothers and sisters from around the world who will be at the talks presenting a Christian influencers letter, by adding your “Amen” to this action organised by Tearfund.

A group of us at Redhill Baptist church have begun meeting together to help one another on this journey of engaging with MP’s and national leaders to advocate for Creation care and other justice issues, especially on behalf of the poorest who often have no voice. If you are interested to join us then do get in touch with me at ruth.ritter@btinternet.com

Here are some other resources that may be of interest:-

Visit www.renewourworld.net to join a global movement of Christians acting and praying to tackle climate change.

Visit www.tearfund.org/climate for an introduction to climate change

For a personal take from a Christian working on climate science try Katharine Hayhoe’s website www.katharinehayhoe.com

Nine ways to live more sustainably from Green Christian are in this booklet

Ruth.20180708_160542