Naked Earth

Dear Friends,

The world has been mugged and stripped of her clothes!

Luke 10: 25-37

What we say can heal or hurt depending on how we say it! It’s the same with what we see or how we feel! How we see can help heal or continue to hurt the world that we share!

We can all watch the same event, but see it differently, which encouraged me to reflect on the story of the Good Samaritan again. The Priest and the Levite saw what the Samaritan saw but their response was very different and I worry that many of us need a different pair of glasses so we can see clearly what is happening. The Priest and the Levite represent the Church in today’s world and the Samaritan is the outsider who sees the need to do something for the man who has been stripped , robbed and left for dead by the roadside.

In some respects we have arrived early on the scene because the man being attached represents the world and the crime is happening. The victim is in the process of being beaten and stripped of his clothes so what are we going to do? Are we going to intervene and stop the crime or not interfere and leave it someone else? If we don’t stop the muggers who will? If we don’t dial 999 who will? Yes, we agree, the Church must do something to save the world from being mugged, stripped and seriously wounded, but this is a parable encouraging the individual to act and not expect the establishment to do it on our behalf. So, the question is: What am I doing; what are YOU doing to help the world that has fallen into the hands of robbers?

Doing nothing is not an option, but there is also a price to pay for doing something! The ‘holy’ people chose to see a problem for other people to deal with so avoided the cost of time and money, but the Samaritan showed a commitment to finish what he started and was prepared to invest time and money in a healing process. It will be expensive to save the world, but it will be even more costly if we don’t stop and take a responsibility.

What Boris recently said about Maggie Thatcher and the coal industry could have been a helpful reminder of what we must do to save the environment if he had said it differently instead of disguising it as a joke! It’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters and the truth is the closure of the coal industry was going to happen at some time. The cost was a decimation of towns and villages up and down the country with people becoming jobless and homeless and despairing of any hope for the future. It was a high price for communities to pay, but we haven’t finished paying yet if we want to heal the wounded world and restore it to life.

We can begin by not jetting off for holidays in the sun or for business trips on the other side of the world to drastically reduce pollution, but that means redundancies for airline staff and the reduction in the manufacture of aircraft because we won’t need as many. Is sacrificing a holiday in the sun a price worth paying? Or do we justify it because we don’t want people to lose their jobs?

We could use many other examples of what we can do without to heal the planet that is half dead by the roadside, but are we ready to stop then commit ourselves to paying whatever it costs to help care for the world and restore it to health?

The priest and the Levite had faith in God so they might have prayed, like we do, as they saw a need but Jesus is reminding US that we have a responsibility to love like God loves. We can all see the stranger who has been mugged, stripped and left for half dead, but do we see it as someone else’s responsibility to do something about it? If two out of three people walk by the problem will continue to get worse, but if we stop and help the Samaritan healing will happen and the cost will be shared!

We are in the same storm, but in different boats is a focus you will see in the following video that challenges us to support young people in their campaign to change our attitude to the climate:

Our Church and Society and Eco Church groups are working together this Sunday to reflect on the challenges of climate change so please join us if you can.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report makes clear that those who live in the West, the dangers of warming our planet are no longer something distant, impacting people in faraway places.

“Climate change is not a problem of the future, it’s here and now and affecting every region in the world,” said Dr Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford, and one of the many authors on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

“The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.” You can download the report here.

On Sunday evening Lawrence Moore will help us explore some of these issues in the context if our faith and discipleship of Jesus during the YourChurch service.

I am now convinced that when the music sounds too loud it is a sure sign of getting older! When I was a disc jockey many years ago I would play music at wedding parties and older people would complain that the music was too loud so I would turn it down. Then the younger people would ask for it to be louder so I turned it up. I never got it right! When I was at a wedding on Saturday I thought the music was too loud and couldn’t have a conversation with anyone, but my daughter and grandchildren managed to dance and talk at the same time. I didn’t dance and I couldn’t hear anyone talk, but enjoyed watching people having a great time. Strange, isn’t it, that when you are young and hearing good you want the music loud and when you are older and hearing has deteriorated we ask for the music to be softer! When ’silence is golden’ (The Tremeloes)  we ‘dance to the music’ (Sly and the family Stone) but ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ (Rolling Stones) when the music is too loud!

You are invited to tell us about your favourite hymns and readings so they can be sung and said with story shared at a ‘Songs of Praise’ service on August 29th. If you attended the service last Sunday you received a slip asking you to tell Marion or Judith about your favourite hymn or reading and why it is important to you. If you would like to attend the service on the 29th and would like to sing or hear your favourite please let one of them know.

There will be two communion services in September as the Methodists have asked to share bread and wine on September 12th when we worship together. That service will be at the URC with their new minister, Revd Chris Collins and myself, sharing the service. We also have our usual communion the week before (5th) which I will be leading and my last service is on September 19th. The Worship Group will lead the Harvest Service on September 26th. Although we will welcome people on a Sunday who haven’t told us they are attending it will help if you can let Judith know in advance.

The ‘Knitted Bible’ exhibition is now being hosted at St James Church in Badsey until Sunday 22nd August. It is open from 11 am until 4pm but with a later night on Wednesday (18th) until 7pm. It is well worth a visit.

Sunday’s service from the URC Daily Devotions Team will be led by The Revd. Andy Braunston. We will be thinking a bit more about Mary. Hymns include Dudley-Smith’s Tell out my soul, Damian Lundy’s Sing of a girl, Rory Cooney’s Canticle of the turning and Ye watchers and ye holy ones. 

I hope you have the mini-fete with table top sale in your diary for Saturday September 4th. You can take a circular walk around the Church grounds — as often as you would like — to try and find some treasures on bric-a-brac, cakes, books and plant stalls. You can also stop for some refreshments on the way and listen to music from Gospel Bell in the Manse Garden. Oh, I mustn’t forget, to help it happen we also need some people to give a little time and energy to set things up and put things away. If you can help please speak to Wyn or Judith.



we give thanks that you are with us:
when we feel we are groping for the way forward,
when we are confused by government advice,
concerned about vulnerable loved ones,
worried about our jobs and the state of the economy.

Help us to continue to delight in the life you give us;
the beauty of creation and the joy of friendship and families.

Hear our prayers for a better future.


By Gordon Woods, Elder, St. Columba’s URC, Oxford

Please pray for Michael Eden who is in hospital, for baby Billy and his parents Kate and Daryl; and for Rebecca and Stewart and their baby.

God Bless, Richard