We had a staycation after Easter, and I enjoyed having time for some lovely walks in the area. I watched tractors in the field behind our house preparing the ground and planting new seeds of linseed or flax – quickly followed by scores of crows who scoured the ground for good things to eat! I have heard a skylark, listened to a thrush, watched dunnocks and chaffinches scuttling around under the bird feeder, and enjoyed seeing small bluetits return to their nesting box, making preparations for a new family.
You may wonder why each month I wax lyrical about the natural world around me here in Chiddingstone. After decades of working in churches in towns and cities, I am enjoying returning to my childhood roots in the countryside. But towns and cities have their beauty too and are full of interest, history and vibrant life. Like the countryside, centuries of changing architecture have shaped our towns and cities; different industries and commerce have added their colour to urban areas. I remember visiting the Gorbals in Glasgow many years ago: yes, they were slums, but there was a richness about the lives of the people who lived there. My father grew up in Glasgow, attended North Kelvinside School near to the amazing Botanic Gardens as well as the vibrancy and prosperity of Sauchiehall Street.
So, what will become of our country as we emerge out of a series of lockdowns and learn to live with the coronavirus? This is a time to make critical decisions about the future of our society and our own lifestyles. Many of us have enjoyed more time in the garden, working from home, zoom calls to family across the world and starting new hobbies. What do we want to retain from the things that we have learned over this past year? Is it a stronger sense of community and care for each other? Is it a fairer distribution of wealth? Do we want reform in education or health or the social services? We only have a small window to make decisions about the future – otherwise we will attempt to return to the way we lived before covid – but surely, we can never do that. Too much has happened, too many lives have been lost and the pandemic has shown us that the way we were living was destroying the environment.
Let’s aim to live lives that express in action God’s good purposes for the world. Can we use our voices to encourage leaders to govern honestly and wisely to shape a future that respects the planet? Can we act as advocates for a greater fairness and better provision for the organisations that make society work for the benefit of all? If so, are we willing to make costly provision for these things to happen?
St Paul had some important things to say in Romans 12 about playing our part in society:
“Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad…do what is good, and you will receive their approval, for they are God’s servant for your good…because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.”
My hope is that we learn from the experiences of the past year, and build back a better, kinder and more loving society; where we value one another and seek for the common good.
God bless, Bill