steel

Rotherham has a new heart and it’s made of steel.  The 2m high sculpture was unveiled in the gardens outside the Minster on Saturday morning.  The photos look great and I look forward to seeing it for myself over the next week or so.

The Heart of Steel is by the Sheffield sculptor, Steve Mehdi.  It will form one part of the Yorkshire Man of Steel: a massive, 30m high stainless steel sculpture and Visitor Centre which will sit on the site of the former Tinsley cooling towers, just next to the M1.

The Man of Steel is a landmark project for the region which honours the past and looks to the future.  It celebrates the people and places of South Yorkshire where so much was forged from coal and steel.  It signposts the new technologies that will secure the region’s future success.  You can read more here: http://www.yorkshiremanofsteel.com

But what does it mean to set a heart in the centre of Rotherham at the present time?  It seems to me to be a very powerful symbol.

The heart is a symbol for what is going on deep inside us: our thoughts, our emotions, our will, our inner life.  Ours is a world which focuses so much on external appearances: what we look like and how things seem.  Look at any rack of magazines and see the evidence.

But when God looks at you and I, God looks past how we look.  God sees right through our clothes and our bodies and the masks we sometimes wear.  God looks at us and sees right through to the heart.

There’s a story in the Bible about the prophet Samuel.  Samuel has to choose a new king for Israel.  God tells him to travel to Bethlehem, and to anoint one of the eight sons of a man named Jesse.

Samuel comes to Bethlehem and Jesse’s sons are brought before him one at a time.  Samuel looks at the eldest, Eliab and thinks to himself, surely this is the one.  But God says this to him:

“Do not look on his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.  For the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart”.

The heart is a symbol for self-examination: for having the courage to look inside ourselves and to see what is really there.  The heart in the centre of Rotherham is made of stainless steel .  When you look closely, it will be like looking in a mirror.  Ask yourself what is going on inside.

The Bible gives us words and pictures to describe our inner life.  According to the Bible, the human heart is a difficult place.  Sometimes it can feel like a desert: parched, dry and starved of affection .  Sometimes it can be a place where evil festers and grows and overflows into hurtful words and actions.  Sometimes it our hearts, our inner lives, become like stones within us: we become hard-hearted, stubborn, shutting out the love and light of others.

So how is your heart today?  It takes real courage to look inside ourselves. What are men and women to do when we look at our reflection and see that our hearts have become dry or dark or stony?

The location of the Heart of Steel is a very powerful one.  It stands next to Rotherham Minster whose spire points to heaven and to God’s great mercy and love.

God is in the business of mending broken hearts, of watering deserted hearts, of bringing light to the darkest places within us, of changing hearts of stone back to hearts of flesh.

I hope that many people will make the journey to the Heart of Steel and take a few moments to look at their reflection and look within.  I hope they will then find their way into the quietness of the Minster and sit and pray and open their hearts to God once again.

I pray that we will see hearts transformed by the love of God once more.

Here is a prayer you can say, taken from Psalm 51:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and put a new and right spirit within me”.


The story of Samuel anointing David is in 1 Samuel 16

I received a letter last week from Pope Francis.  So did you.  The letter is addressed to the whole of humankind, not only Roman Catholics and not simply Christians.  Francis writes “I wish to address every living person on the planet” (2).

The letter addresses the profound danger the world faces from environmental deterioration: the destruction of Sister Earth, our common home.  The title of the letter is taken from Saint Francis’ beautiful canticle, Laudato Si’, Praise be to you my Lord – best known now through the English hymn, “All creatures of our God and King”.

Francis plea is for the whole human family to come together at this key moment in our history to seek sustainable development across the earth.  The letter describes what is happening to our common home: an accelerating process of decay.  He draws attention to pollution on a massive scale; to climate change which threatens to change life on earth for ever, to acute water shortages, to the loss of biodiversity.  The letter draws out the clear consequences for human life and the breakdown of human society.  All of these developments heighten and increase inequality across the earth and disproportionately affect the poorest nations.  The poor should be at the heart of our concern for the environment and the two cannot be separated.

The world faces immense problems rooted in the misuse of the earth: “never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years” (53).  And yet: “it is remarkable how weak international political responses have been” (54).  The letter is a wake up call to a complacent world.

Chapter Two of the letter set out a clear and detailed basis for Christians (and others) to renew their commitment to the earth rooted in Scripture and the doctrine of creation:

“The entire material universe speaks to us of God’s love, his boundless affection for us.  Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God” (84).

Chapter Three explores the human roots of the ecological crisis.  This is where the letter becomes far more than a call to recycle or reduce our carbon footprint.  The abuse of Sister Earth is linked in a profound way to our way of understanding human life and activity.  Our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads.  We have placed ourselves at the centre of the universe, as masters of creation and failed to understand in a profound way what life is for.

A better and more profound understanding is needed.  At its heart is the concept of the interconnectedness of life caught by the phrase an integral ecology.  We are not isolated individuals but part of the larger universe and in a particular place within it.  In Chapter Four, Francis explores environmental, economic and social ecology, cultural ecology and the ecology of daily life.  These three central chapters on the theology of the environment, on the roots of the crisis in our misunderstanding of what it means to be human and on a better vision are immensely rich and creative.  The quotation which best sums up these chapters is from Benedict XVI:

“The external deserts in the world are growing because the internal deserts have become so vast” (152).

Evironmental degradation is a consequence of the human condition, not an accident of it.

In Chapter Five, Francis turns to lines of approach and action.  These are to be rooted in Christian hope and the expectation that things can change.  He highlights, as expected, the importance of dialogue on the environment in the international community and the forthcoming Climate Change conference in Paris.  But Francis highlights as well the importance of more local dialogues and local politics and the call to bring economics politics, science and religions into the conversation at every level.

In the sixth and final chapter, the letter turns to what we ourselves can do.  “A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal” (202).  We are to be partners not observers in this conversation.

Lifestyle is key as we each learn to live sustainable lives.  Education is vital in schools, homes and seminaries.  Francis coins and uses the term “ecological conversion”: part of our discipleship is recovering our responsibility to the earth:

“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to the life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (217).

But individual action is not enough.  Love must lead us to political action as well, to act in hope to renew the mindset of the world and reform our stewardship of the earth.

Laudato Si’ is a profound and helpful document and I commend it to you.  Last week our Archbishops and other Faith Leaders signed a renewed Lambeth Declaration calling for all people of faith to recommit themselves to the care of the earth and action on climate change.  On 17th June, 10,000 people took part in a mass lobby of Parliament organized by the Climate Change Coalition (which includes our own Hope for the Future campaign).

Next month one of the key debates at General Synod will be on combatting climate change, the Paris Summit and the question of climate change and investment.

Each of us needs to take seriously this aspect of our discipleship: our ecological conversion.  Care for the environment is one of the major issues of our age.  How will you engage with all that it means and help your church, your parish, your school, your local council and your government do the same?


Some links and resources:

The Encyclical Letter, LAUDATO SI’ can be found here.

The Church of England General Synod document on Combatting Climate Change and the Lambeth Declaration is here.

The Christian Aid report of the mass lobby of Parliament is here.

Hope for the Future’s website and campaign details are here.

I spent 3 days last week in Stuttgart in Germany as a guest of the something called the Kirchentag. It’s a great gathering of Protestant Christians from all across Germany.  There were 30,000 active participants and over 100,000 visitors to different events all across the city.  The programme is half an inch thick and includes conversations on every possible subject.

I was there to meet with German pioneers and to take part in a seminar on the English experience of forming fresh expressions of church. But the whole event got me thinking….  Why can’t we do something on this scale in Sheffield?

So how about an annual Sheffield Christian Festival?  One which tries to draw together every stream of the Christian church in the city and region and celebrates our common faith?  A blend of Greenbelt and Taizé and New Wine and Soul Survivor and Spring Harvest and Walsingham only right here in this city and region.  Can you imagine it?

Sheffield is already a city renowned for its festivals.  We have DocFest and a live music festival and a comedy festival annually. We have strong local festivals in many parts of the city.  Why not a celebration of Christian faith right here where we are?

I’ve been reflecting for some time on the absence of strong Christian festivals in the north of England, especially since the demise of New Wine North a couple of years ago.  I’ve been trying to imagine how we could start slowly and build something here: perhaps camping out on Doncaster racecourse or Beauchief Abbey.

But camping is not really that appealing.  And it would be hard to offer something for everyone in a single event or style.  So how about something stretching over a long weekend which draws people into the city and celebrates all the different churches have to offer?  Isn’t it the kind of thing a humble, confident church should be doing?

Almost 25 years ago the churches of this city and region combined in a remarkable way for Mission England.  Many still remember that as a high point of collaboration.  There was much fruit.  Over the last couple of months there has been a new beginning with church leaders from different streams coming together to pray.  Perhaps the idea of a City Festival is part of the answer.

I’m the kind of person who sometime has ten ideas before breakfast.  Not all of them are good ones.  Those who work with me sometimes bear the scars and have learned to sit on me from time to time.

But every so often, there’s one which is worth pursuing.  How about it?  An ecumenical, regional, annual Festival of Christian Faith in Sheffield to build up the churches, to strengthen faith and discipleship, to witness to our common faith, to celebrate God’s love and make an impact across our region.  First one in 2017?

Let me know what you think either by posting a comment or by email.

+Steven Sheffield

Some of the hardest conversations we will ever have are about death.  How do you begin even to raise the subject with those you love?  How do you talk about your deepest hopes and fears, your dreams for your life, your pain and anxiety, your concern for those around you?

Talking about death isn’t easy for anyone these days.  Earlier generations didn’t share our hesitation.  There is a line in the old Prayer Book which says: “In the midst of life we are in death”.  For my grandparents generation that was true.  Life expectancy was shorter.  Most people would experience death in their family more often.  The dead were buried in the centre of the village.  Talking about the end of life was natural and normal.

Nowadays, no-one would dream of building a crematorium in the town centre.  We build them on the edge of town, hidden behind trees. They are often disguised to look like libraries.

But whatever your religious beliefs, death is part of life.  All of us will die.  And all of us will come face to face with the death of those we love.  Most people care very deeply about our life enduring in some way.  Most can identify with a verse from the Bible which says that God has put eternity into our minds[1].  We yearn for something more, but we can’t always articulate what that something is.

The NHS now encourages patients who may be near the end of life to have an honest conversation with their GP about dying.  That has to be a good thing.

Last week the Church of England launched a new initiative called Grave Talk.  Grave Talk is an invitation to anyone in the wider community to come and have a conversation with others about bereavement, death and dying.  Grave Talk is offered in a café style environment, over tea and cake.  There are question cards on the tables to help people begin the discussion about death and dying, about funerals, about the journey of bereavement.

Grave Talk sits alongside the normal, regular ministry of Church of England clergy and lay ministers taking funerals in every community in the land.  Many people still opt for a Church of England minister to take their funeral even though they may not be regular churchgoers.  A funeral taken by a Church of England minister will always have a theme of hope, based on the Christian belief in resurrection from the dead.  The Church and its ministers offer care both before and after the service from within the local community.  Every funeral service is different, unique to the person who has died but bringing the great resources of Christian faith.

Grave Talk offers a way that people can think about these things in conversation with others long before they become a personal issue.  I hope that many churches and many people in this Diocese will take up the idea from time to time.

As we are honest about the end of our lives, so many other things begin to fall into perspective.  As we face the possibility of our own ending, so there is often a new beginning, a question, an enquiry about faith and life and meaning.  A search begins which will often lead us back to God.

The Church has been helping people in our communities to reflect on questions of life and death for countless generations.  Through all of that reflection the faith of the Church remains the same.

In the words of St Paul, used at every funeral service

“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 8.38-39).

In Christ, there is no need to be afraid.

+Steven


[1] Ecclesiastes 3.11, RSV translation.

twit1

People in Britain spend more time online than they do sleeping: 8 hours 41 minutes a day according to an Ofcom survey in 2014.  That’s twice as much time as the average person spends watching television.  The same “average” person checks their phone 113 times a day.

Last Sunday, I was asked to preach on the theme of being a disciple online at All Saints Church,

Woodlands, near Doncaster.  What does the Bible have to say about how to be a Christian on Twitter or Facebook, in emails or texts?  How are we salt and light in that part of God’s world?

I turned to the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament.  Proverbs is made up of over 400 short, pithy

sayings, most under 140 characters.  They are thought provoking, memorable and full of wit, just like a good tweet.

twit2

So here are my top ten Proverbs from the Old Testament for users of Facebook and Twitter and other online media.  The words in italics are my own, very short, application of each verse.

  • A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches
    Proverbs 22.1
    Take care of your reputation online and offline
  • Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than a brother
    Proverbs 18.24
    Friend is a big word not a small word; friendship is a gift and a blessing
  • Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another
    Proverbs 27.17
    We grow as people through wit, humour and interaction online and offline
  • Better is a little with righteousness than a large income with injustice
    Proverbs 16.8
    We spend much of our time online buying and selling and banking. Financial honesty and transparency is key; pay your taxes
  • Like a city breached, without walls is one who lacks self control
    Proverbs 25.28
    Self control is needed in normal life and even more in the private world of online interaction. When it goes, we are soon overwhelmed.   
  • A gossip goes about telling secrets but one who is trustworthy keeps a confidence
    Proverbs 11.13
    Holding confidences is as important in texts, emails, facebook and twitter as in real life
  • A gentle tongue is a tree of life but perverseness in it breaks the spirit
    Proverbs 15.4
    Words have real power to build up and to pull down.  Use them well. 
  • The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels, they go down to the inner parts of the body
    Proverbs 18.8
    So do rumours circulating on the internet.  Beware.
  • Like vinegar on a wound is one who sings songs to a heavy heart
    Proverbs 25.20
    It’s well worth taking the trouble over what you say. Engage brain and heart before posting. 
  • A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver
    Proverbs 25.11
    And its worth taking trouble over the way you say it….

+Steven Sheffield

The Cathedral held a dawn service on Easter Day this year.  I set the alarm for 4.30 in the morning for a 5.30 start.

The service began in darkness: readings and prayers from the Old Testament looking back to creation, to the Exodus, to the prophets longing for God’s kingdom.  As dawn broke, we moved outside to the great entrance.  New fire was kindled in a brazier. We lit the new Easter candle.

Together the congregation moved into the Church proclaiming with wonder once again this profound and life changing news that Jesus Christ rose from death on Easter Day.

The Christian faith is not based on a dream or a projection or a myth but an event in history.  This event was witnessed by those who were not expecting it, unexplained by those who opposed it, written down by those who gave their lives in testimony, and attested by countless generations of Christians who have themselves encountered the risen Christ in scripture and sacrament, in prayer and fellowship.

This is the life changing, death disarming, fear destroying, mind transforming, joy bringing, grief shattering, kingdom proclaiming, history making, culture shaping truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day.  God offers to everyone forgiveness and new life.

But how can anyone believe in the resurrection of the dead?  Death seems so final.

St Paul uses this very simple picture in 1 Corinthians 15.  He asks us to imagine seed: the kind you plant in the ground.  Think of the pip in the apple, or a sunflower seed, or the stone in the heart of a peach.

No matter how long you look at a dried peach stone, no-one could possibly imagine that this hard, dry object could possibly change and not only change but grow and not only grow but become a whole tree, bearing leaves and flowers and fruit for years and years.

So it is with the resurrection of the dead, says Paul.  Death seems so final.  But we only see part of the picture.  A person’s life and soul and personality rests with God after death, like the DNA hidden deep in the stone of a peach.  God in his love and grace and power is able to raise them to a new and deeper and richer kind of life, life without end.

How can we know this to be true?  Because of what Christians celebrate in the fifty days of Easter.

Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia.

+Steven

On Thursday of this week, I will be taking part in two profound symbolic actions in the Cathedral which have humility at their very heart.

The first is the Royal Maundy.  Her Majesty the Queen will distribute gifts to eighty-nine men and eighty-nine women, honoured for their service to church and community.  The tradition goes back hundreds of years and looks back to the moment at the last supper when Jesus knelt and washed the feet of his disciples.

It was at that moment when Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment: love one another. We take the name Maundy from the Latin for new commandment (novum mandatum).  The gift of money is a symbolic and practical expression of love for others and, especially, love for the poor.

The recipients gathered in the Cathedral a couple of weeks ago for the Maundy Lecture. The Lord High Almoner told us that the Maundy is the only honour in our national life where the Queen comes to the recipient: she not only travels to Sheffield but also moves within the service to each person to make her gift – a moment we will never forget.

Later that same day, after the royal party have left the city and the crowds have gone, the Cathedral community will gather, like many others all across the Diocese to remember the events of the Last Supper.  In that service, I will take a towel and a basin of water, as Jesus did, and wash the feet of twelve of the congregation.  The service is a powerful reminder to follow the example of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve.

The theme of humility runs through Holy Week.  Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday riding on a donkey.  He is arrested whilst praying in a quiet garden.  He is silent for much of his trial.  He responds to mockery, to violence, to danger with gentleness.  In his own agony and passion, he tenderly cares for his friends.

I offer two reflections on these two actions.  The first is that humility remains an essential part of all leadership: in the family, in the church, in the wider community.  The Christian tradition of reflection on leadership in communities goes back over three thousand years: it is the oldest and richest seam of reflection on leadership the world has ever known.  At its very heart, all the way through, however you slice it, is this profound and wonderful quality of humility as essential for wise and good leadership in communities.

Our nation will be thinking a great deal about leadership over the coming weeks in the General Election campaign.  Humility is essential as part of that debate in the qualities of the candidates, in the promises which are made, in their vision for this city and region and for the life of our nation.

But, second, humility is not just for leaders.  The foot washing can be misunderstood.  The lesson Jesus draws is very clear.  He does not say: “So if I have washed your feet so your leaders should wash the feet of those they serve”.  Jesus goes much, much further: “You ought also to wash one another’s feet”.

Each of us is called to humility.  Each of us is called to love and to serve.  This calling is rooted in Christ’s love for us, Christ’s offering of himself for us.  Humility is to be at the heart of all we are.

+Steven Sheffield

crossroadsTwenty-one bishops from across the north of England are visiting the Diocese of Sheffield in September for four days of mission together, led by the Archbishop of York.  We’ve called the mission “Crossroads”.

As far as I know, it’s the first time so many bishops have worked together in mission in this way in a single Diocese in the long history of the Church of England.  Many are bringing teams of young adults to work with them.  The Bishops are from every Diocese in the Province of York and from every tradition.  They include the most recent Bishops to be consecrated for the north: Bishop Libby Lane of Stockport and Bishop Philip North of Burnley.

After an initial service of commissioning in the Cathedral on Thursday 10th September, the Bishops will be assigned to different deaneries.  They and their teams will stay with clergy and parishioners.  The Bishops and their teams will lead hundreds of different community visits and events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  They will join in services in local parishes on Sunday morning (13th).  We will end the Crossroads mission with a single, large scale event on Sunday afternoon (details to be announced).

Born in prayer and carried forward in prayer

This four day mission to the Diocese of Sheffield was born in prayer.  In May 2014, the Archbishop of York invited all the bishops of the north to join him for 36 hours of prayer on Holy Island, one of the cradles of Christian faith in northern Britain.

One of the convictions born in the bishops as we prayed together was that God was calling us to engage in evangelism together to the North of England.  The idea was born of bishop’s visiting one Diocese each year in sequence, if possible with teams of young adults.  The dates are already booked for similar missions to Blackburn next year and Durham in 2017.

This means that Bishops across the Province will be praying for us and later this week, Bishops will be linked with the Deaneries they will be visiting in September.

However the four days of mission also needs to be rooted in prayer in this Diocese and I would ask that it is the focus of regular prayers and that we pray together for many people to hear the good news of Jesus through that four days in September.

What’s the aim of the mission?

Our aim is to sow the good seed of the gospel in many different places in September.   We want to go to people who are currently outside or on the edge of the Church.  Our hope is that through Crossroads, many people will join enquirers courses in the autumn and come to a living and lifelong faith.

We work together and in partnership with God’s grace in an annual cycle of sowing the seed of the gospel in the summer and early autumn; offering groups for enquirers and new believers from October to Easter and deepening the discipleship of every Christian from Easter to the summer.  The Crossroads mission exactly fits this pattern.

What can we do now?

Area Deans will begin to plan what will happen in your deanery from Easter onwards.  Please begin to think how your own parish could engage with Crossroads.  We’ll be producing some special materials to help with this in due course.

In the meantime please pray for the whole mission for God’s grace and blessing on all that we do.

Here is a bible verse and a prayer to help you begin your preparation:

“Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls”
Jeremiah 6.16

Loving God,
This world you love
stands at the crossroads.
Help us help others
to discover your Way
to know your Truth
and to share your Life
in your dear Son, Jesus Christ.
Inspire us by your Spirit
to sow the good seed of the gospel
throughout this Diocese
with imagination and compassion,
that many will come to know you
and many will be strengthened in their faith,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Amen.

whoismyneighbour-pages-1Less than two thirds of the population cast their vote in the last General Election in 2010.  Less than half of under 25’s turned out to vote.  People feel detached from politics.

Our society needs fresh vision.  We face different threats and problems at home and across the world.  An election campaign is an opportunity for us to think hard, to debate and to have a conversation about what kind of world we want to build, about what kind of society we want to see.

On Shrove Tuesday, the House of Bishops issued a Letter to the People and Parishes of England for the General Election 2015.  The full text is available online here: Who is my neighbour? Alternatively, click on the image to the right.  I want to commend it for careful study and reflection in every parish.

The purpose of the letter is not to tell people how to vote.  The purpose is to encourage all Christian people to engage with the election and to use our votes thoughtfully, prayerfully and with the good of others in mind.

The letter is also an appeal to politicians of all parties to raise the quality of the debate.  We need our politicians to be people of integrity and to offer real leadership in uncertain times.  Politics needs to rise above a series of promises to one or other part of the electorate to deliver a slightly better deal to some in terms of wealth creation, welfare or tax relief.

There are big issues at stake in this election: Britain’s role in Europe and in the rest of the world; the fairness of our society; the protection of the vulnerable; the size of the state, our care of the environment and the role of public services.

There are 16 Parliamentary constituencies within the Diocese of Sheffield including the seats of two of the current party leaders.  The churches and other faith communities form a significant part of the electorate.  We are present in every single community, we are engaged with urban and rural issues, with rich and poor, together we are making a vital contribution to the common good.

I will be writing to all the candidates in every constituency in the Diocese with a copy of the Bishop’s Letter and encouraging them to engage with the churches and faith communities and the issues they bring.

Please pray for the candidates and for the General Election.  Please engage with the debate and conversation which the Bishop’s Letter has begun before and after 7th May.  Please vote and encourage everyone you know to vote as well.

The Bishops’ Letter asks the question: “Who is my neighbour?” and holds out a vision that we will not build a society of strangers but a community of communities. That vision for our world is at the heart of the scriptures.  Jesus himself teaches us to pray: “Your kingdom come”.  Let us not neglect our responsibility as citizens and as Christians to engage with the debate around us.

+Steven Sheffield

blog-steven-croft-1How should a Christian think and speak about climate change?

Climate change is a present reality not a future threat.  It’s a present reality for millions of the poorest people in the world who are affected today by rising sea levels, by changing weather patterns, by water shortages and violent storms.

On Saturday, Hope for the Future offered a training day in Sheffield for Climate Change ambassadors.  It was a privilege to be there.  Hope for the Future is an ecumenical, nationwide campaign to encourage and equip individuals, churches and groups to lobby their MP on climate change.  Further details are here:  http://www.hftf.org.uk

2015 is a key year for Climate Change campaigners.  Action to prevent climate change has to be global to make a difference.  This year, there are a series of key international conferences and meetings.  The UK has the potential to play a leading role in all of these, whatever government is in power.  Now is the time for the churches to speak out.

The different aid agencies and charities have formed the Climate Coalition (http://www.theclimatecoalition.org).  Big things are planned for Valentine’s Day in a couple of weeks time.  Pope Francis is to issue a major encyclical later in the year.  Christian Aid, Tear Fund, CAFOD and others are all mobilizing their supporters.

But what will move us to take action?  One of the most helpful stories to reflect on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10).  Almost everyone knows it.  A man is travelling down from Jerusalem to Jericho.  He is set upon by robbers and left for dead.  Over 66% of the people who travel down the Jericho Road that day see the problem but they do nothing about it.  They pass by on the other side.

meetingThe Samaritan is different.  He sees and is moved with compassion.  Compassion moves him to action.  That is exactly the journey many of us need to take in respect of climate change.  We need to see what is happening and its consequences.  We need to be moved with compassion.  We need to take action: in campaigning for change, in changing our habits and in encouraging others to do the same.

What helps people to make that change?  Jesus tells the parable to answer a lawyer’s question: who is my neighbour?

Think about it.  People in the Philippines, in Bangladesh, in Bolivia, in Malawi, affected by climate change today are my neighbours.  The generation now being born, who will live through enormous climate trauma if we do nothing are my neighbours.  To love them means to take action, to do something.

My full reflection on the Good Samaritan is available here.

For ideas on what action to take please go to one of the websites above.

Hope for the Future have partnered with Operation Noah to deliver a second training day in London on March 14th exploring our Christian call to climate action. This will include contributions from Bishop Richard Cheetham, Our Voices and CAFOD.  More details on the website.