From the Pen of Rev Steve

Recent copies of the minister's letters from Rev Steve. These are reproduced from the monthly Newsletter.

May 2024: This Green and Pleasant Land

I’m looking out from my study at a clear blue sky accented by the verdant green shoots of a mature tree, and all seems still and well. The hope is that the storms, persistent rain and general dreary weather is over and we can all start to value the great outdoors and the stunning town that we reside in. In addition we are progressing our plans for the extension of our garden at the side of the church hall, therefore I wish to reflect on earth's provision of soil this month.

Wendell Berry, the American novelist and poet once said, “the soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all.” Soil is also referred to as humus, just one “m” here, I’m not referring to any chick pea dip! So that dark brown decaying matter that has been sticking to our feet every time we dared walk off the concrete paths of late is the same root of word as human. The words are a derivative of each other and the bible describes how we are formed from the dust of the ground. Yet for a number of generations we have been divorced from this deep connection with soil or humus. Through industrialisation and the need for large numbers to work in factories people moved away from the land and their groundedness. The land still provided for the people but even those who remained working the land were relying on machinery more and more such that farmers if they so chose didn’t even need to touch mother earth. What is more, in an industrialized world we see the land and soil as another commodity to be utilized for its full potential.

Going back to the root of words, another connection with human is humility. I was talking to a friend yesterday who said she had gone out on a previous morning into her back garden barefoot and touched the earth. When we have connection with the humus then it becomes less a commodity and more a companion, almost like a family member that we can treat with respect and humility.

One of the hopes with the proposed garden is to reduce the amount of concrete and increase the amount of green space. In addition seating will be provided in order that people can ground themselves in nature. It is my opinion that after a long wet period to the start of this year people have extended their hibernation and been reluctant to venture out of their homes. Indeed in our built up environments, and especially large cities the need for green space becomes vital. Without that connection we grieve a vital part of who we have been and what we should be.

The Bible is rich with this more wholesome understanding of the ground that is under our feet, especially the Psalms. Perhaps we need to refashion our understanding of the creation account in Genesis. So often the word “dominion” is seen as subduing that which is under our rule. Yet my understanding of ministry is not that I have authority to dominate proceedings or people. My role is to allow people and the church to flourish. Therefore our role in creation is to allow it to flourish rather than seeing it as a commodity. The hymn writer Andrew Murphy helps us see a more holistic approach to creation.

In the wonder of creation
When all nature shares one song
Showing God’s imagination
All may see his love goes on.

So let us touch the earth lightly, with humility and respect, for by so doing I believe we honour our role and bring worship to God .

Every Blessing

From the Pen of Rev Steve
"... the soil is the great connector of lives…" (Wendell Berry)