Make a difference: A reflection from the Archdeacon of Northampton

Monday 8th March is the day that the church remembers Edward King, former Bishop of Lincoln, who died in 1910. On my bookshelf I have a copy of The Spiritual Letters of Edward King and towards the end of the book is a letter headed ‘To a Working Man’. King says “The world goes ahead wonderfully – railways, telegraph, telephone, steamships and now aviation; we must hold fast by the faith…” 112 years on, we might write “The world goes ahead wonderfully – Eurostar, emails, Zoom, solar-panelled shipping, space exploration…” We could also add “…and the development of multiple Covid vaccines within a year”.

We live in a wonderful and terrifying world. King could not have foreseen that the wonders of railways, steamships and aviation would play their part in causing a planet-wide climate emergency. You may have watched David Attenborough’s Perfect Planet. Some of his observations are heartbreaking, but what can we do? Well, asking “what can we do?” is a great start.

At Diocesan Synod on 20th March, one of the items to be discussed is how we will respond to General Synod’s massively challenging target of being carbon net zero by 2030. It all seems so big, doesn’t it? When I was a curate, Stuart Blanch – the former Archbishop of York – took part in our training. To those of us in large parishes he said: “Just because you can’t visit everyone doesn’t mean that you can’t visit anyone”. True. The same goes for saving God’s beautiful creation. Just because we can’t solve the whole worldwide problem doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything.

Remember those words from Bishop King: “we must hold fast by the faith”. In these amazing, scary, rapid and challenging days, we travel in the knowledge that our Creator and Redeemer has always walked with us and will always walk with us. Let’s pray that, through this worldwide pandemic and climate emergency, God will give us the courage and the will to start where we are and make a difference.

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