Revs Richard's Letter & Peter's Green page

Rev Richard writes:

Dear Friends,

Are you hopeful for 2020?

Last year the school had a series of assemblies on the topic of hope. It caused me to think and research a little about this important topic.

Here is a quote I found that I thought was very illuminating and helpful on the topic. “Humans are distinguished from the rest of living beings by hope. Hope is life for humans. Tomorrow may not come for a few. But the others are sure that there will be a day after the present one. And it is hoped by many to be a little better than today. What is not realized today may be within our reach tomorrow. It is hopes that make people to live through all torments of life. The moment a person loses hope, the very zeal to live is lost.”

I also looked for some concrete reasons to be hopeful at this time. Here are three reasons for hope today. Extreme poverty is giving up ground. Firstly in the last 20 years, the number of children dying around the world from things they shouldn’t — from hunger and poverty and disease — has dropped from more than 30,000 a day to less than 15,000. And the number of people living in extreme poverty, those living on less than around £1 a day, dropped by more than 1 billion. Now the world’s nations have set an ambitious goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030.

Secondly we are 99 percent of the way to eradicating polio globally. Unlike most diseases, polio can be completely eradicated because it cannot survive for long periods outside of the human body. At its peak in the early 1900s, polio struck tens of thousands of Americans. And although currently around 20 million people are still living with polio paralysis it is nearing eradication. In 2018 there were only 29 new cases globally.

Thirdly we are on the way to solving the global problem of dirty water. In the developing world, one new person has clean water every 10 seconds and three more schools have clean water every day. This is the sixth of 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the U.N. ‘that all people will have access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030’. For more on these and other hopes being realised see:

The Bible also offers us concrete hope, this is as a result of putting our trust in God. It is based on what God has done for us all through Jesus, and it can be experienced within and to such an extent that we can overflow with hope (See Romans 15v13).

May you have a very Happy New Year with many concrete reasons to have hope in your heart.

Rev Richard

Trees, the Climate, the Bible and Jesus

The fact that trees are the easiest and cheapest way to combat Climate Chaos is now common knowledge. Trees take in C02 and give out oxygen, the cheapest climate change solution. In a rapidly changing climate tree planting would have near-immediate results, as trees remove more carbon when they are younger. 

It is not surprising then that trees are mentioned in the Bible more than any living thing other than God and people. In fact there are more than 36 trees mentioned in the Bible. There is a tree on the first page of Genesis, in the first Psalm, on the first page of the New Testament, and the last page of Revelation. Every major event in the Bible has a tree marking the spot to tell us just how important they are.

Jesus said he is the true vine and that his Father is the dresser of the garden. The Bible refers to itself as a Tree of Life. We are told to be like trees planted by streams of water that yield their fruit in season. Trees are as essential to the Bible as they are essential to life.

If, in some Mad Max world, trees disappeared overnight, so would much of the planet’s life, including us. Habitat loss is the main reason for worldwide extinction. So the destruction of much of the worlds remaining forests is a total disaster.

Even in our part of the country, wildlife depends on single trees and copses as well as the more densely wooded areas. Even a single tree in the open can attract and provide resources for animals and plants. So the loss of just one tree locally can have an effect far greater than may be imagined. 

The first tree mentioned in the Bible is the Tree of Life. Indeed, life on Earth depends on trees for oxygen, fruits, wood, water, medicines and soil nutrients. And, of course, there is the animal and insect life that relies upon them. Every single part of a tree, from its topmost leaf to its deepest roots is life-giving.   

The last tree mentioned is in Revelation. “On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” The Greek word translated ‘healing’ in this verse (therapeia) is the source for the English word ‘therapy,’ so the leaves of the tree will be therapy of the nations in the new earth. 

This suggests that the leaves are not necessarily for physical healing, but rather a therapeutic, inner healing of the ethnic/racial divisions that have divided nations and people for centuries, resulting in wars, civil wars, abuse and carnage. From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, trees give life and healing, the very things that Christ gave His life for. Trees still give life and healing today and I am sure that creation groans as it sees the destruction of the forests. Can you plant a tree?

Rev Peter