Space, the final frontier
The Bishop’s Pastoral Letter for October 2019
Not just once upon a time
I recently enjoyed a wonderful evening at Lichfield Cathedral, listening to Simon Johnson, the Organist and Assistant Director of Music at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, and members of the Lichfield Cathedral Choir and Chamber Choir presenting The Planets by Gustav Holstaccompanied by amazing on-screen images from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre. This was part of the Cathedral’s excellent series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the first landing by a human being on the moon: ‘Journeys through Space and Time’.
I will not forget the wonder of listening to ‘Neptune, the Mystic’ whilst watching images of cloud formations on the planet itself and being overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s creation. The Psalmist tells us:
‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands… Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.’
Psalm 19: 1-2
Our Creator God made all of this and he also made each one of us as a unique expression of his love. God calls us to care for his creation, to be good stewards. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said:
“The future of our fragile, beautiful planet home is in our hands. As God's family, we are stewards of God's creation. We can be wantonly irresponsible, or we can be caring and compassionate. God says, "I have set before you life and death... choose life.”
In April of this year, a 16 year old young woman from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, addressed M.P.’s in the Houses of Parliament. Her message was clear and powerful:
“We are living with a climate emergency. Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything. And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.”
In the last week of September, people around the world took part in action to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit, including many churches, schools, chaplaincies and fresh expressions in this diocese.
We can all be a part of restoring God’s creation, we can all make a difference but it requires our ongoing commitment – we’re not finished in a week! In my office we are taking further steps to become more environmentally friendly, stopping any use of ‘single use’ plastics and items that are not environmentally friendly, ensuring that we cut down on the amount of paper we use and that all documents are printed double-sided, reducing, re-using and recycling.
What will you do?
Bishop of Shrewsbury