Dear Friends – Lent

Dear Friends,
Where does the time go? We are hardly over Christmas, it seems,
and already we are hurtling into Lent. Ash Wednesday this year falls
on February 26th, and Easter Sunday on April 12th.
I have achieved one thing so far this year: I have found a milkman.
Not that the milkman was lost, you understand; nor that we stumbled
across him by chance while searching for a missing spoon. It’s just
that since we moved to Ealing, we have been wanting to get our milk
delivered, to cut down on our plastic waste, and none of the big
dairies cover our area. Then, two weeks ago, while out with the dog,
I spotted milk bottles outside a house a few streets away. Hurrah! A
note through their door, and they kindly emailed me their milkman’s
details. Our first pints came on Monday.
It’s a small step. But every small step moves us closer to saving the
planet and adds to pressure for change. Given the overwhelming
scientific evidence, you would hardly think there was need for
pressure. But at the World Economic Forum this week in Davos,
Donald Trump decried climate protesters as ‘prophets of doom’. He
wants to hear optimism and confidence, not problems.
He is not the first leader who only wants to hear the good news.
When King Jehoshaphat of Judah wanted King Ahab of Israel to join
forces with him and attack Aram, Ahab consulted his favourite
prophets. With one voice they tell him what he wants to hear: go to
battle and you will win. Jehoshaphat, more cautiously, asks if there
are any other prophets who can give a second opinion.
‘There is still one other,’ says Ahab, ‘Micaiah son of Imlah; but I hate
him, for he never prophesies anything favourable to me, only
disaster’. (1 Kings 22:8). Micaiah is sent for, and sure enough
prophesies that Ahab will lose the battle. Ahab in fury throws Micaiah
in jail until the day he, Ahab, returns victorious. He never does return.
Ahab is killed on the first day of fighting.
The prophet Micaiah, like Greta Thunberg, knows that optimism,
looking on the bright side, is no substitute for true hope. True hope
lies in facing reality head-on, seeing what changes are needed, and
then taking action to bring those changes about.

Milk bottles won’t save the world. But having taken one step, it’s
always easier to take the next one. I’d like to suggest that, for Lent
this year, instead of giving up things that make no difference to
others, we each look to see what small steps we might take to
reduce climate change. We are, after all, called to be stewards of
God’s world.

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