Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Reaching the end of October

Well... there's less than half an hour to go as I write.

October began with our Harvest celebrations - it's impossible to show just how beautiful the church was, but still more important was the spirit of celebration and the generosity of giving both of food and goods for The People's Kitchen in its work with homeless people and in terms of cash for USPG the main mission society we support.

Then the stuff of parish life until we reached the end of the month with more celebration. Over the last weekend many members of the congregation joined in celebrating the 70th birthday of Ian Severs and we were joined in church by many visitors from far and wide for Dobson Heron's 50th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood.

Much more about what we've been doing - and what we are planning in the November issue of our Parish Magazine (click and get it here in colour). Included is this "View from the Vicarage."...

In the midst of the storm…

As I write “Superstorm Sandy” with its hurricane force winds is raging in the north-eastern states of the USA, its devastation reaching into Canada. Up to 65 million people are affected, 6.5 million are without power, much of New York and New Jersey is flooded - and that includes seven subway tunnels which serve the city. The Stock Exchange has been closed on the grounds of bad weather for the first time since a great blizzard in the 19th century. And heavy snow is falling or anticipated now over a wide area as weather systems collide. Tens of thousands have been forced from their homes or await rescue. The damage will cost tens of billions of dollars.

Perhaps that gives us a sense of perspective on the quite abnormal weather we’ve had in recent times. With little cause for complaint we can be swift to grumble - though when things get really bad that is what often brings out the best in us.

I had personal cause for concern since my brother lives not far from New York City just over the New Jersey border in Pennsylvania. He sent me a message that things were “pretty wild” with the power going on and off. Later that a tree had gone down in his neighbour’s garden - and then the power seemed to go off for rather longer (though obviously the internet was still working!) - I haven’t heard any more since.

There has been loss of life - though thankfully on nothing like the scale hurricanes have caused in less developed countries. But the damage now being suffered shows us just how vulnerable we have become to the forces of nature. Our society depends upon our ability to control the environment - when we lose control technology, transport and so many other systems fail and we feel our helplessness. How do we give that voice?

Rather than complain, one of the clergy my brother works with posted this:

O ye Waters that be above the Firmament, bless ye the Lord:
praise him, and magnify him for ever…

O ye Lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord:
praise him, and magnify him for ever.

O let the earth bless the Lord:
             let it praise him, and magnify him for ever.

O ye Seas and Floods, bless ye the Lord:
praise him, and magnify him for ever.

You might recognise the words of this biblical hymn. How would we respond? In the midst of the devastation, there is still a cause for wonder at the power of Creation of which we are but a part.