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Harvest Thanksgiving

This year has been one of contrasts. Despite the cold winter that seemed to stretch into April, we had over the summer months a period of hot weather and drought.

One of the memories of this year is going to be the lawns turning dry and brown and sunny day after sunny day.

By the time we reached August I was thinking that when it rains I am going to stand in the middle of the lawn and enjoy getting wet. Fortunately a holiday in the Lake District achieved this ambition.

One of the uncertainties that were voiced in the summer was what type of harvest we would have this year.

Fortunately, as always, the flower guild has been able to use their artistic skills, and the church has been decorated and we can thank God for the Harvest that we enjoy.

Yet, the weather has provided a challenge for those with allotments and reports in the news suggest that food prices in the supermarkets will be going up.

It has been the hottest year on record and periods of drought mean that food supplies may need to be imported from further afield.

Possibly this year has once again raised to the forefront the issue of climate change and its impact on the world.

One of the most depressing things in the last few years was when the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

This was a voluntary international agreement to limit the rise in global temperatures to under 2c.

This will come into effect from 2020, but the rationale, according to the American president is the accord would have cost America trillions of dollars, killed jobs, and hindered the oil, gas, coal and manufacturing industries.

If the US does this then its raises the possibility that other countries such as China will simply ignore agreements.

Climate Change is a theological issue.

We give thanks to God for the beauty of the earth and also the fruits of creation. We are called in the book of Genesis to be wise stewards and look after God’s good creation. Human triggered climate change impacts on that balance and the consequences for the earth are huge and potentially catastrophic.

On Thursday the church school had a service at the Cathedral in St Albans and the focus was on the Bishop’s Harvest Appeal that this year is called “Give Peas a Chance.”

Farmers in Malawi normally grow maze that requires a high supply of water but changing weather patterns and drought have led to changes in crops. Christian Aid is supporting farmers to grow crops of Pigeon Peas and this can thrive in more arid conditions and enable farming communities to survive.

We seem to be in a time of constant readjustments to a new reality and the general consensus is that international agreements are the only way to respond to the situation.

Despite this and as shown by the recent American response to the Paris Agreement there is a vested interest in disputing climate change.

I was looking into articles on the subject and the vast majority of scientists see it is a reality. It has now reached the point where they ask the media to no longer provide a platform for those who deny climate change as it suggests that it is a respectable opinion with something substantive to offer.

A recent letter signed by scientists, campaigners, politicians and academics made the point this way: “When there is an article on smoking, newspapers and broadcasters no longer include lobbyists claiming there is no link to cancer. When there’s a round the world yacht race we don’t hear flat-earthers given air time: “This is madness, they’ll sail off the edge.”

Either they can provide evidence or they are best ignored. Otherwise they can be seen as providing legitimate ideas that have a basis in fact.

The crucial debate is how as a world community we can address the causes and effects of dangerous climate change as “that’s where common sense demands our attention and efforts should be.”

Harvest is a chance to be part of that ongoing conversation.

The consensus is now that unless we can come together over climate change then we will all be impacted. The challenge is how much we are prepared to change how we live.

More groups are encouraging us as consumers to invest in companies that support renewable energy and research where we buy food and clothing. Alongside this is the encouragement to think green: “Make a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gases in your daily life, at home, in the office, and on the road. Reduce your energy and water use. Eat less meat. Go solar. Change the lightbulbs in your home. All of these are acts of green to help reduce your personal impact.”

The Old Testament writers would have known about hunger and the fear of famine through the failure of a harvest.

Yet, in the early chapters of Genesis there is a conviction that creation is good, we have to look after it and there is a trust that God has not given up on creation.

Quite a few writers speak about what they call the “Inescapable network of mutuality.”

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men and women are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be... This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

We are at this Harvest reminded we are all in this together.

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