St Francis of Assisi, Petts Wood

For it is in the giving that we receive.

Reflections - a time to pause for thought

To think on.... 

‘Tread lightly upon the earth, seeing, understanding but never imposing’

 The beginning of October marks two big events for us here at St. Francis. The first is our celebration of St. Francis day on October the fourth, and the second our celebration of Harvest festival shortly afterwards. The two are very much connected in my mind. St. Francis lived an austere life style, having no possessions, and eating, dressing and travelling, simply and frugally. One of the things we celebrate him for is his love and appreciation of the natural world as God’s creation, especially the world of animals. Harvest festival has a similar theme. At it we give thanks for the natural world, remembering our total dependence on - not just for food, but on virtually everything else we rely on for our existence.

A fundamental principle of Christian response to the created world is stewardship. Christians believe we are entrusted with the natural world on loan for the equal benefit of the whole human race, future as well as present. It is not ours to possess, exploit or take for granted. It is on the contrary to be treasured and nurtured in accordance with its own governing rules (not ours). It is God’s first and foremost gift to us- life itself. 

Not many of us are called to the simplicity of life of St. Francis and his close contact with the created order. On the contrary, most of us are very disconnected from the impact our living habits have on the lives of people in far flung places. It’s not all negative of course. Our Western habits of consumption are reckoned to have raised billions of people in the Third World out of absolute poverty to relative poverty. On the other hand this has often done at the cost of huge damage to their natural environments, their political stability, national cultures and the control they have over their own lives. 

Those of us who give any thought to this at all, are often frozen into inactivity by the sheer complexity of it all. Nevertheless it remains our Christian duty to do something. Some things are both so obviously bad for everyone, and easily avoided by taking some personal responsibility, that we can get a few quick wins. One that comes to mind for me is bottled water. Thanks to David Attenborough we are all much more aware of the terrible damage plastic bottles do to our environment. But it’s also the case that producing and transporting one litre of bottled water uses up three litres of water. It also takes upto a quarter a litre of oil (2000 times the amount of energy to produce a litre of tap water). Do we absolutely have to have this stuff and everything like it?       

Father Stephen Sig