Dear Friends
This is my penultimate email, even if it comes a day late because of problems sending them this week.  Today I want to restate for one more time, the thinking behind the direction of a lot of my emails over the last four and half months and where I believe God is, in it all.  And it’s all about judgement.  But judgement as something positive not negative.  Judgement that saves rather than destroys.
In the book of Hosea, Hosea was an unhappily married prophet whose wife kept going off to play the field.  the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, …   (Hosea 1:  2)   He saw in this a parable of the relationship between Israel and God.  … for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.’    (Hosea 1:  2).   
Israel kept finding possible solutions to their troubles (playing the harlot if you like).  They worshipped Baal instead of God.  ‘The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols.’  (Hosea 11: 2).  They tried to make alliances with aggressive foreign nations like Assyria.  ‘they multiply falsehood and violence;     they make a treaty with Assyria,    and oil is carried to Egypt.’  (Hosea 12: 2).  They wanted to live in comfort,  a life without care or worry. ‘Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit.  The more his fruit increased the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars.  (Hosea 10: 1).
Hosea had his unfaithful wife back several times ‘The Lord said to me again, ‘Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods’. (Hosea 3: 1).  There is a lot of anger and judgement in the book, (e.g.) ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.’ (Hosea 4: 4). However it clearly ends with acceptance and new beginnings. I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. (Hosea 14: 4).  It seems to me that this view of judgement as a learning curve, a restorative, rather than a punishment is replayed throughout the whole of the Old Testament.  The New Testament then assures us of this forgiveness through the saving work of Jesus Christ, who broadens Israel to include the whole of God’s beloved humanity.
Today we are in a situation where there is extreme danger to our delicate ecosystem through climate change.  It is now incontrovertible that this is caused by human beings and the way we use the resources of the planet with no thought or care about the consequences..  The oceans are polluted with plastic and the air is unclean due to burning fossil fuels.  The trees of the Amazon are going down in swathes and more and more animal species are becoming extinct.  We feel powerless to stop it because we can’t make any difference and we value our little luxuries.  We seem to be worshipping false gods.  It would not be so desperate if the population of the world were not about 4 billion too many.  I see similarities between our situation and the unfaithful Israelites of Hosea’s time 2 500 years ago.
Is God going to stand and watch his beloved creation, of which we are the crowning glory, self-destruct?  Did he allow Israel to wander off and become like any other nation?  Is it all going to end in disaster?  As a Christian, the more I read the bible, the more I get a resounding ‘NO, he will not’!  Christianity is a faith full of hope and love and God will not desert us.  Possibly, natural disasters like the Corona virus are a part of the solution rather than the problem.  We can’t control it.  We are not as all-powerful as we thought we were.  Maybe we need to let God be in control and trust the love of God will save his creation to live another day and the redeeming work of Jesus will provide a new creation for the whole of his presently fallen humanity?  And in the meantime, the more we can do to simplify our lives, and live more ethically, the easier we will find it to live in this new future.
A prayer by Oscar Romero
It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
It is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
Which is another way of saying that
The Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that should be said.
No prayer fully expressed our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
Knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produced effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything,
And there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
A step along the way,
An opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
But that is the difference
Between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
Ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future that is not our own
Listen to ‘A Touching place’  by John Bell.  It is hauntingly beautiful and we sometimes sing it in church.
If you would like to join us for Evening Prayer today (Friday) it is at 5.00pm

Topic: Friday Evening Prayer on Zoom
Time: Jul 31, 2020 17:00 London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 796 0544 1582
Passcode: w39zN7

If you would like to join us for Evening Prayer on Saturday it is at 5.00pm

Topic: Saturday Evening Prayer on Zoom
Time: Aug 1, 2020 17:00 London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 775 5432 3114
Passcode: q6W45C

Sunday worship:   Parish Communion at 9am in church, Zoom Worship at 10.30am and  Sunday Evening Prayer is at 6pm on Zoom
We hold Morning Prayer and some Evening Prayer in church nearly every day (see the pew leaflet for details).  You are welcome to join us.
Every blessing