Pause for Thought

Dear Child of God,     “Do you realise that God needs you? Do you realise that you are God’s partner? When there is someone hungry, God wants to perform the miracle of feeding that person. But it won’t any longer be through manna falling from heaven. Normally, more usually, God can do nothing until we provide God with the means, the bread, the fish, to feed the hungry.”
This is the opening of chapter 5 of Desmond Tutu’s book God Has A Dream. The Chapter is entitled God Only Has Us. I valued the greeting with which he opened this and all chapters.
On Harvest Sunday we were privileged to learn a lot more about The Cathedral Archer Project, probably Sheffield’s best known charity. Tim Renshaw explained that the project is a lot more than a warm place and a hot meal for homeless people. It aims to address health problems (including substance abuse), develop confidence, wellbeing and skills. We heard of the challenges staff and volunteers at the project face but also of the rewards of seeing people progress, not least in the development of a few small businesses based at the project and run by clients.
A few Sundays earlier we were absorbed (and amazed) by a talk from Dr Cariad Evans of Sheffield Health Action Resource for Ethiopia (SHARE – the church’s current charity). SHARE is essentially a small group of healthcare professionals who work for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and volunteer their services to SHARE. Their objective is to provide healthcare and communicate best practice and skill to improve health in Tigray, the most northerly region of Ethiopia. Cariad gave many examples of the scope for medical development, most dramatically for me was the instance of the commissioning of the new hospital (which I understood to be the first in the region) which resulted in the overload and failure of the power supply to the city of Mekelle.
As I write this muse it is nearly a week since the publication of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC. Currently global temperatures are 1⁰C in excess of pre-industrial levels and the report says that urgent and unprecedented action is needed to limit the rise to 1.5⁰C by 2030, where previously the target was 1.5-2.0⁰C. This seems a small change, but of many effects perhaps one of the most dramatic is that, though Arctic sea ice would remain during most summers if warming is kept to 1.5⁰C, at 2⁰C ice-free summers are ten times more likely. Additionally, at 1.5⁰C extreme heat waves will be experienced by 14% of the world’s population at least once every five years, but this rises to more than a third of the planet if temperatures rise to 2⁰C.
Although the main influences on global warming are the consequences of governments’ policies, we all make a contribution. Factors we might consider are how we heat and insulate our homes, how and how much we travel – public transport is less damaging than the car which is less damaging than flying (a return flight to Rome for two has the warming effect of about a half a year’s driving if you do 10,000 miles per year in a smallish car – New York would be
about three times this figure). Even what we eat matters. Locally sourced food is less damaging than imported, seasonal is better than out of season, vegetables better than meat. How we vote sends signals to political parties that environmental issues matter to us. Or do they?
It all makes a difference.
Desmond Tutu led me to this prayer:
Christ has no body on earth now but yours, No hands, no feet but yours; Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on the world; Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good; Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Widely attributed to Saint Teresa of Ávila, 1515 – 1582
Rob Studd