I have just returned from a fabulous mission weekend with the Thameshead Benefice, a group of six parishes and nine churches located between Cirencester and Tetbury – a mix of larger villages such as Kemble and smaller communities that together create a lively church community reaching out to all who live in the area.
The theme of our weekend, and the days that preceded it, was that of ‘Treasuring God’s Creation’. We spent time in creation walking, we sang, and we joined with children in the school as they created artwork that led to prayer and worship that celebrated God’s rich blessing to us in the world and acknowledged our responsibility, God given, to care for this precious gift.
What was especially good about this time was the way in which so many people had come together to make it happen. Led by the incumbent, Trevor Kemp, a group of our current curates worked with local lay leaders, including the flourish team, to shape ideas and share the vision.
Our weekend culminated not in one big service but in worship. following the usual pattern in the different parishes of the benefice, at each of which we gave thanks for a tree, which was then planted. This was a sign of our commitment to the world we have been given to share, a commitment that comes from a delight in the gift we have been given and an undertaking to work for its preservation, its wellbeing for the long term, for generations to come, and for those who will look upon the trees we have planted.
For me, this act brought to mind the words of the book of Revelation, Chapter 22, where we are reminded that ‘the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations’. Our call to be disciples of Jesus Christ is one that calls us, always, to look beyond ourselves in thanksgiving for what has been shared with us, to the world and its peoples.
It was a deeply encouraging weekend and I am immensely thankful for the privilege of being part of it. But I was also reminded that this call to treasure God’s creation is one in which we are all called to share. How might we do this? Let me again commend to you the Eco Church and the way which through its Bronze, Silver and Gold awards it enables all of us to reflect on how the life in our parish demonstrates our care for creation and to make the changes we need, often small, that make a big difference.
I am immensely encouraged by so many of our parishes and communities that are working on this and if that’s not yet you, then please do get involved. You can find more details here: Small things making a big difference – how to get started with Eco Church in an Hour
With every blessing,