Small steps (literally)
The Rectory drive now only has one car on it. Simon and I decided during lockdown that selling a car was one small thing we could do for the environment (though the car is still on the road, so it really is only a small gesture). There may be some diary juggling required and we will have to ensure we actually talk to each other about appointments (!) but it feels a positive thing to do in these difficult times.
I have always believed that little things do make a difference, and that the cumulative build up of little things can suddenly take you by surprise by actually being quite a big thing after all. This is true of all aspects of life. When Ben learnt how to pull out a chair and sit at table this was the culmination of much work, and many little steps. Ben had to know he needed to pull the chair away from the table. He then had to trust that the chair was still there to sit down on; then the really difficult part of knowing how to bring the chair to the table while still sitting on it. Try one day just unpacking all the different movements and assumptions you make about something so seemingly simple as sitting at the table. All the little elements learnt gradually over time, came together one day and hey presto – Ben didn’t need help to sit down for a meal. Independence, achievement, skills – tick, tick, tick.
So too with the environment. Yes the scale of the problems our world faces feel overwhelming. But as a benefice we’ve now sent 20 kgs of crisp packets off to be recycled (that’s over 1000 crisp packets), we’ve got bug hotels in our churchyards and areas set aside for wildlife that provide food for a rich diversity of animals, birds and insects through the wide variety of plants and flowers. We’ve put double glazing into the centre hall to reduce heat loss and wherever possible we’ve lowered the energy requirement in all our church lighting. Little things that build a bigger picture, and build an awareness of our impact on the climate.
What’s true for personal goals and the environment is also true for faith. We may feel that our prayers are small and puny in the face of the huge issues facing the world today. We may feel that our small band of faithful Christians is no match for the juggernaut of secularism. These sorts of doubts undoubtedly assail us from time to time. Our own halting progress as Christians can also feel daunting, when we find ourselves wailing with St Paul – “I do the things I don’t want to do, and I don’t do the things I ought to do. AAAGH!” (I added the aaagh) .
But this is why it is so wonderful that we don’t do our life of faith alone. We are not trying like Atlas to hold up the world by our own strength. We have fellow Christians, we have brothers and sisters in faith, here in our villages, in our county, in our country and right across our world. And all those little prayers, all those small or indeed large gatherings of Christians who pray, worship, serve, and grow and change and transform, all these add up to something really big and powerful. And (yes there’s of course more) we don’t just have other humans, we have GOD. We have the one who created the heavens and the earth and yet knows each of us so well that he know how many hairs there are on our heads (or in some cases, used to be on our heads).
We never have to think that our prayers are small or puny. As soon as we pray, those words enter God’s heart: that vast love that can overcome all barriers. That is the most encouraging thing I know: that just by a simple few words we are utterly connected to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let’s hold to that encouragement, let’s hold that hope before us, that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.