Thoughts from the manse 23rd October

We are fast approaching the end of British Summer Time and whilst for a week or two the mornings will be lighter the evenings will come sooner.  When we visited Scotland in September I was hoping for some autumn colours to inspire me but it was not to be as the trees were still holding their green.  It was only last week, on a trip to Milton Keynes, that I realised the autumn colours had arrived.  That is the problem with not travelling about so much, you can miss the subtle changes, and suddenly the trees were ablaze, although mostly in places we could not stop.

I love the autumn colours and this year they do seem more vibrant, with rich yellows, oranges and reds.  It is a catalyst to get ready for the warmth of home in the winter, an altogether different warmth from the stifling heat of the summer.  We are encouraged to wrap up, be cosy and enjoy the times of contemplation that winter brings. 

The Danish call it Hygge.  I wonder if it will be different this year as many have had more time than they wish already for contemplation.  I hope not, as this time is an important restorative time in the cycle of life.  We need time to absorb all the things we have done during the year, to catalogue the photos, to catch up on reading, and to get out the recipes for soups and casseroles, both of which I love.

I can remember visiting forests in the autumn, kicking through the fallen leaves and searching out sweet chestnuts to take home and roast.  The latter was a prickly business and required gloves if you were not to end up with fingers like pin cushions.  It was like wrestling with hedgehogs!  When I was a teenager, we used to roast the chestnuts in the open fire, whilst eating pomegranates by picking out the seeds with a pin.  This was a standard pastime whilst watching the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, something I still watch every year although there is no open fire, and I am not that keen on pomegranate seeds anymore.

Remembrance is a marker in the journey through autumn to winter and as a Scout Leader it often involved a parade in the cold and wet which was followed by a warming cup of Bovril.  This year will be different although the Cenotaph Ceremony will still take place, I believe, but other gatherings may be curtailed.  However, the pause to remember will still be held in some way and our worship together on the 8th November will reflect this important time.  Even though we are all struggling with the pandemic there does seem to be more unrest in the world and remembering that war is rarely the answer to grievances is important, the cost is simply too high.

So, take a moment to enjoy Autumn, it is more than looking wistfully back to summer and forward to the cold of winter.  It is a special season when walks take on a different feel, we harvest produce to enjoy later, we reflect on all that had happened, and we plan our winter pastimes.

Left, autumn sycamore at the national Arboretum at Westonbirt

Right, a November morning at Glastonbury Abbey

Read more Thoughts from the Manse on the archive page

Thoughts from the manse 16th October

Last Sunday we celebrated Harvest in the strange virtual world in which we are living.  It was good to take time to reflect on creation amid this pandemic which at times feels more about destruction.  As Christians we recognise that we are partners in creation and have a responsibility to ensure there is something to hand on to future generations. 

We also have a responsibility to encourage fair shares for all of creation’s bounty.  There are commodities that we treat as infinite and yet, we are aware that many of the earth’s resources are not infinite and need to be cared for.  We cannot keep plundering and polluting. 

Recently, our kettle developed a leak and we had to replace it, the choice does seem infinite with all the variations you could dream of and more. However, as we researched one thing became apparent there are far too many plastic kettles on the market and some ridiculously cheap ones which seem almost in the disposable category! 

I am sorry to say that it was a plastic kettle that we were replacing and yet our kettle history has been mostly metal, from that early Russell Hobbs metal kettle that nearly everyone had in the seventies and eighties.  I am please to report that we once again have a metal kettle. 

Many kettles these days have a quick boil facility to encourage us to save water and energy by only boiling what we need. It is estimated that during the pandemic we have brewed and extra 28 million cups of tea, boiling the amount of water needed, rather than filling the kettle, could save £46 per year, as well as saving water.  It is an important aspect of our green living. 

Water is not infinite.  We are all aware of WaterAid and other charities which seek to bring clean water into the lives of all people, but I wonder if we forget that being careful with water is part of the deal.  In the UK we use approximately 142 litres of water per person per day, imagine if you had to carry that from a well. It is estimated that in ten years’ time, 2030, there will be a 40% shortfall in the fresh water needed across the world.

 It takes 650 gallons of water to produce one cotton tee shirt.  So, even as we shop, we have a responsibility to make sure that tee shirt is one that will last.There are lots of books and programmes about decluttering and during lockdown many people took the opportunity sort possessions.

Decluttering is perhaps a part of our throwaway society, buy cheap and replace but that was not the way of my parents who bought the best they could afford in the hope that it would last them a lifetime.  There are times when something breaks and many domestic machines are not built to last the way they used to be, so when something breaks we need to encourage our local councils to recycle as much as possible, and preferably in this country.  I think we have all seen the mountains of plastic waste we thought was being recycled littering and polluting other countries and it is not sustainable, not ethical, simple not right. 

There is something like £8 million pounds worth of precious metals dumped each year in the form of electronic equipment, platinum, and gold amongst them.  Surely, we cannot afford to waste precious metals. 

As we take stock during this pandemic, let us remember those days of worldwide lockdown when the skies cleared and people breathed more easily, when birds and animals began to re-inhabit their lost areas and creation seemed to calm.  Let us remember that we must play our part if the world is to recover and life on earth be sustainable. 

We can do this by making a conscious decision over how and what we purchase, encouraging recycling and re-using, and being more aware of the water and energy we use every day.

Live lovingly, live responsibly, help sustain the planet.

Read more Thoughts from the Manse on the archive page

Zoom Worship

Since March we have posted worship on the website which you can use at home and we will continue to do this at least until we are once again all able meet together. 

However, for those who have access to the internet, we will also worship together every week using Zoom.  If you are not part of the pastorate but have been following worship with us you are welcome to join us on Zoom.  You will need to request the link for the worship and to do this simply email our minister, Revd Heather Whyte, by using the contact form and you will be added to the invitation emails, please head your message 'Zoom Worship'.  You will also be sent a guide to using Zoom, so please do not worry if you are unfamiliar with Zoom.