Caring for God’s Creation

This month I went to two of Lewes’ Eco Open Houses. The people that had signed up to have their homes showcased had put in ecologically sound measures of heating, lighting etc.

2BF8561C00000578-3452744-image-a-1_1455796662716The extent to which they had made their home ecologically sound varied. You might recognise the first house that I went to as it is the modern one at the end of Prince Edward’s Road.  It had been totally built from scratch, and was seemingly ecologically sound in every way. It had solid floors to give enough mass to stabilise the temperature. The floors were heated from underneath and reached a temperature of 26 degrees. Even in October, the living room was pleasantly warm with the façade windows pulled back, exposing one side of the room totally to the open air. It was also heated efficiently by air being ventilated more frequently and heated through pipes more often than air would circulate in a typical home. The roof had solar panels and panels to create energy for hot water and electricity. All the walls and floors were super insulated.

Lighting was created by LED’s and we were told that you can also buy ecologically friendly lightbulbs that brighten up rapidly (which is not my experience of eco-bulbs generally) for as little as £2!

Use of God’s resources was harnessed, and the living room had cedar cladding, which is a more renewable resource than some other timbers.

The overall impression was light, airy and very warm!

0BC788D9000005DC-3371979-image-a-2_1451908463975The second home was in Church Row, just next to TRINITY St. John sub Castro. God created things big and small, and these two homes reflected this as this property was a big contrast to the first. It was very cosy and the owner, Jane Lee, was very friendly. She told us about how she had a woodburning stove so used less fossil fuels. Also she had put another layer of glazing on her windows using acrylic, and steel and magnetic tape. The builders had done some of this but Jane had done some of it herself.

We didn’t’ go into the kitchen but it had cavity wall insulation and the attic had high performance insulation inserted between the rafters so the bedroom which was previously cold is now much warmer.

The overall result was that the house uses typically 50% less energy than a house of that style would use.
I thought I would write about this as at a time when the government is investing more in fossil and nuclear energy. It shows that people in Lewes can care about wasting less energy, and using less of God’s resources.

For the layperson like myself, the eco-open houses suggested measures to improve your house’s carbon emissions: lower the thermostat, only heat the rooms you live in, draught proof windows, radiatorFoil_800x450_v2doors and chimneys, use radiator reflectors, get secondary double glazing (which doesn’t have to cost a lot), and get loft and cavity insulation.

One thing I do have is foil behind the radiators, and it has improved how quickly my property heats up. A simple thing. Food for thought?

 

Miriam Owen
TRINITY Eco Team

TRINITY Blog – Joy

This year I have been taking part in ‘One Word 365’, the idea being that you ditch New Years Resolutions (which I’m all in favour of anyway, if you want to make change, do it whenever, don’t wait for the new year) and just choose one word for your year to focus on. This year I chose ‘JOY’.

Joy2JPGWhy joy? indeed, good question. There were lots of words that might have been more original, or more meaningful, less vague, perhaps more in line with what this year held in store for me. But the thing that I really don’t like about myself (well one of them…) is that when I’m tired or a bit under par or just busy, I get grumpy. And not just that I’m grumpy, but grumpy and cross with people around me, the people I love, usually my family. I hate that the joy I have from Jesus gets robbed away from me at those times. And of course I’m not ignoring the reason why this happens, but some things just won’t change and realistically I will get tired and busy sometimes, so my aim is to not lose the joy I have but to loose it!

joy1JPGGod’s word tells us in James 1:2-3 to consider it joy when we face trials, not that my trials are particularly big, but when I read of those who are persecuted and attacked and yet are still so obviously filled with the joy of the Lord, it gives me huge encouragement and perhaps a little shame that I am bogged down in the tiny detail.
In Nehemiah 8:10 the prophet tells the people ‘…for the joy of the Lord is your strength’. Yes! it is, I just need to continually remind myself of this. Joy is also one of the fruit of the spirit Paul talks of in his letter to the Galatians, 5:22; and finally one of my fave passages, Hebrews 12:1-3 – if you haven’t then do read The Message version, it really brings it alive, I love the line ‘that will shoot adrenaline into your souls!’ But for now in the NRSV version:

joy_nouwenJPGTherefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
Be inspired by Jesus and all that He did! He was filled with joy even knowing what he had to face. So JOY has been and is continuing to be an ongoing theme this year as I endeavour to be focussed on the joy of the Lord.

 

Jules Middleton
pickingapplesofgold.com

(C)hesed loving kindness. חֶסֶד

chesed loveI am fascinated by the concept of Hesed in the old testament. The term is found many times in its various forms and there is no exact English equivalent. Myles Coverdale, one of the first translators, coined the word loving-kindness ( “louinge kyndnesse” ), it speaks of the unconditional love which the creator God bestows on his created image, humankind. This love is guaranteed by God’s covenant relationship and promise with His people.

The hesed of God is firm and dependable because God is firm and dependable. God chooses Abram to receive his blessing which he heaps upon this totally undeserving, barren, nomadic shepherd. Abraham responds with faith and totally commits himself into God’s promise leaving everything that provides any earthly security to follow the commands and promises which he has been given. Because of his faithful response Abraham is given the family and blessing which God promised him. His seed finally comes to total fruition in the person of Jesus Christ and all who are adopted as His sons through faith.

guJbmaHesed expresses the primary character of the Trinity in their relationship with each other. Each preferring the others and offering unconditional honour and service to each other. Primarily demonstrated by Jesus’ servant relationship with His heavenly Father, and the Father’s response “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”.

His ultimate act was the sacrificial act of love on the cross, which restored the creator’s universe to its ultimate glory; so it and the God image of human kind within it, express the perfect character of the trinity of love.

Yahweh, the great I am, is always revealing himself to those who seek Him. This is  characterised by God’s relationship with Moses, first revealed as “I am”, at the burning bush. Then slowly over Moses’ life until that moment of divine revelation on the mountain, Exodus 34:6 the The Hebrew is shown here

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,(ESV)

The true God of the old testament is the exact opposite of the usual caricature of a vengeful angry old man. Our problem is that so often we create an image of God who is like us and this is always a false idol.

One of the lovely images of God is that of a loving husband   as found in Hosea 2

Hosea_web_graphic-600x506“The LORD’s Mercy on Israel
14“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achore a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. (ESV).”

In fact the very best of human relationships, found often between husband and wife, show us something of the divine covenant love of God. The wonderful book of love poetry called the “Song of Songs” was often allegorised by the early Church Fathers to represent the love relationship between Jesus and His disciples, which include all who believe.

Loving-kindness should be one of the main characteristics which mark out God’s people and is the sign of God at work through His church. It has a wonderful attractiveness which draws people into the Church of Christ.

Book-of-Ruth-compressedThe book of Ruth is one of the best places to find examples of Hesed in the old testament. This is yet another beautiful love story. This is best demonstrated in the relationships between the main characters in the story who all show this Hesed love to each other. Ruth refusing to desert Naomi clinging to her and her God. Boaz shows his love to Naomi through his loving-kindness to Ruth and Ruth shows that  to Boaz by marrying Him out of family devotion, above the prospect of marrying a younger more sexually attractive man. Finally God shows his ultimate love by providing a baby for Ruth; Obed the ancestor of David and ultimately Jesus Christ. There is a lovely fuller treatment here .

So what does this mean for you and me, we receive Hesed love from Jesus and we pass it on to our friends neighbours to the foreigner and stranger and even our worst enemies and we will be truly children of our Heavenly Father.

 

Ian Hempshall
thykingdomcome.blogspot.co.uk

Prayer & Praise

WorshipEvery fortnight we gather as a church on a Wednesday evening for intimate praise, heart felt adoration and passionate intercession.

But, what is the value of coming together in the middle of the week to worship & pray?  If God knows our most intimate thoughts and desires, why do we need to come before Him in prayer?

We could ask: why does the stream need the spring, or the lover to speak to his beloved?  Prayer is about coming into an intimate relationship and meeting with our Creator and Saviour.  It is not so much about changing the mind of God; it is Christ changing us into effective agents for the bringing down of His kingdom from heaven to earth.

True intercession is a syncing of minds and spirits with the God of the universe and bringing heaven down to earth.  Prayer as a private devotion is the powerhouse of the Christian, but prayer in community is the powerhouse of the church. Jesus said that when two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst (Mat 18:20); in the same chapter, Jesus speaks of the power of binding and releasing things in the heavenly places.

Jer 2 13Jesus wants us to be a community of people who learn, like the woman at the well in Samaria, that Jesus is the only source of living water, and we have to come to Him and drink.  Jeremiah pointed out two sins of God’s people: they had forsaken God the fountain of living waters, and hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13).  Community prayer is the sign that we are not relying on our own wisdom and organisation as a community, but on the creative power of the Holy Spirit in everything we do as church together, working to His agenda, not ours.

I often think of prayer as coming into the throne room of God. Just as God’s people of old entered into the tabernacle with songs of joyous praise (see the Songs of Ascent in the Psalms 120-134), so we start with a beautiful time of Prayersung worship and praise beautifully led by Martin for us, we enter through the gate into the Holy Place where the altar  of incense burns: the prayers of the saints, and we walk through the curtain which was torn in two by the death and resurrection of Jesus, into the presence of the throne of Grace where we can bring our requests in confidence before our enthroned Father, hand in hand with our friend and Saviour Jesus, our high priest and friend of intercessors.

So will this little band of friends who meet together on a Wednesday evening change ourselves, our church and our town? I will leave you with a quotation from Spurgeon:

p&p ADVERTOur prayers are God’s decrees in another shape. The prayers of God’s people are but God’s promises breathed out of living hearts, and those promises are the decrees, only put into another form and fashion. Don’t say, “How can my prayers affect the predetermined will and plan of God?” They cannot, except in so much that your prayers are decrees, and that as they come out, every prayer that is inspired of the Holy Spirit to your soul is as omnipotent and as eternal as that decree which said, “Let there be light, and there was light;” ……You have power in prayer, and you stand today among the most potent ministers in the universe that God has made. You have power over angels, they will fly at your command. You have power over fire, and water, and the elements of the earth. You have power to make your voice heard beyond the stars; where the thunders die out in silence, your voice will wake the echoes of eternity. The ear of God himself will listen and the hand of God himself will yield to your will. He commands that you pray, “Your will be done,” and your will, will be done. When you can plead his promise then your will is his will.