Ethically motivated

This is Mutley Baptist Church’s third newly-adopted value. The text explaining what we mean by ‘Ethically motivated’ says:

“Like Jesus: unashamedly and relevantly speaking God’s truth, striving for justice, caring for the environment and actively challenging the abuse of power, wealth, status and privilege.”

Ethics ith not the county to the Eatht of London, where I lived before being called to serve my brilliant church in the only county that rhymes with ‘heaven’.

I would define ‘Ethics’ as the internal mechanism we use to evaluate whether what we are doing is right. I rather like Colin Brown’s succinct summary of Biblical Ethics in his book, “Living in love and justice” (sadly not in print). As followers of Jesus we try to do what is loving and what is just. If there are possibly different loving and just options, err on the side of love, which is God’s nature.

We recognise that our faith in Jesus needs to show in the way that we engage with the wider world. How we act makes a difference to others and they should see a Jesus-like ethical approach to how we are as well as who we are.

The prophets in the Old Testament had no qualms about speaking God’s truth to power. Jesus was outspoken on many occasions, but especially when he was challenging the corrupt ethics of those in charge.

Caring for the environment is a justice issue (the poorest are hit hardest by climate change), as well as fulfilling the very first commandment in the Bible – to take care of the planet. It is right because it is loving, it is right because it is just.

What might all this look like? Well, I would expect that we will be engaging with our national and local political representatives as churches and individuals on matters of justice – economic, political, environmental, social, gender and many other areas in which it is absent or diminished in our society. This week I have written to the MP for our church location about the impact of fuel price rises and local councillors about the impact of suggested changes to local parking.

I hope that it will show in how we trade – always seeking a Fairtrade option if there is one, ensuring that we minimise waste – especially non-recycylable – and looking to use local businesses if we can to reduce the carbon footprint of what we use. We will always seek to treat businesses fairly.

We are looking to achieve an Eco Church Bronze award in the near future, but then looking at what we can do to achieve further awards in the future – not because we like awards, but because they are tangible ways of us measuring how we are taking care of God’s astonishing and marvellous created world. Eco Church awards not only focus on our collective carbon footprint as an organisation and premises, but also each person who is a part of us.

Perhaps we will take part in campaigns on justice and ethical issues at local, national and international level.

We’re going to be exploring this value further on Sunday morning, which is our harvest celebration as a church. More may come out of my preparation for that…

Be blessed, be a blessing

cupboard love

insert Minister here

insert Minister here

The room in which I study at home is quite small: in some houses it would be called a cupboard. But I can squeeze all my bookshelves (three big ones), my desk and chair, a drawer unit, a couple of other shelves for general gubbins, various magic trick storage boxes and a CD/DVD shelving unit in addition to a few other items that probably come under the heading ‘sundry tut*’.

I am quite happy in this little room. It’s cosy. It’s my space – there is no room for another person in here and as long as I am relatively organised I can get in and out of the door without crashing into things. But recently someone who knows about these things looked in through the door and observed that it breaks all sorts of rule and regulations about working environments. And that leaves me with a dilemma: do I obey the rules and regulations and move my study to occupy the room which is currently our Dining Room or do I carry on as I am – cosy and happy?

If I occupy the Dining Room there will be no space for our dining table and chairs in the house. They could go into what will become a cupboard that was previously my study, but there will be no way in which people will be able to sit around the table! And it’s a colder room, too, having a much larger window and being part of an extension that is not well insulated. But if I stay as I am I am breaking the rules and regulations and I try to be a law-abiding person.

In the end I have decided that as I am the only person affected by the current arrangements and I am happy with them, and that if I adopted an approach that met with the rules and regulations it would seriously inconvenience our family (and make hospitality somewhat difficult) I will stick with the Status Quo** (“Whatever you want, whatever you like, whatever you say you pay your money – you take your choice…  Whatever you need, whatever you use, whatever you win, whatever you lose…”) sorry, status quo.

How do we decide what the right thing to do is? On the whole we obey the law, but sometimes the law can stand in the way of justice. I think it is that sentiment which is behind general disgruntlement with ‘health and safety gone mad’ attitudes. The summary of Biblical ethics by which I try to live is to seek to do whatever is loving and whatever is just, and if the two are in conflict love wins. I am not sure that it’s just to disobey the rules and regulations about my study cupboard, but it’s the loving approach to put my family’s needs before the rules and regulations.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*I would usually pronounce this word like ‘but’ however here I would like you to pronounce it like ‘put’ – or if you have a better spelling please let me know!

** If you don’t know what this refers to, shame on you – visit this clip on Youtube now with the volume on your speakers set to 11 (warning – someone had a lot of fun with a vision mixer!).