As I write this, I am sitting in my office overlooking Derby Cathedral’s Tudor tower and watching snowflakes descend on to the street outside.
Looking closely, some of them enlarge significantly and appear in three dimensions.
They then dissolve and become Christmas trees and other seasonal artifacts.
This is the cathedral’s winter light show projected on to the tower’s west façade.
The irony is that only yesterday I was reading a BBC news report suggesting snowy UK winters could become a thing of the past, following Met Office research just released.
By the end of the century, it is predicted that there will be no lying winter snow, except on the highest of ground.
Can we imagine a winter without any snow at all? If carbon emissions continue to increase across the planet then global heating will continue, and then the loss of snow on all but a few mountains will be part of our reality.
Here at the cathedral, we have been awarded the Bronze Eco-Church award thanks to the work of our Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation group’s efforts.
We hope to progress towards the Silver award during the coming year. In the back of all our minds should be the Church of England’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030. We have a decade to plan and implement actions to achieve this. Becoming recognised as Eco- Church is an important step towards the final goal.
As we enter a new year, with all the uncertainties of what the future holds in terms of meeting together for worship, the availability of vaccines, about how communities will operate and how we may or may not be able to travel, I hope that in 2021 our environmental concern will deepen and become more integrated into our lives as individuals, families, communities, and church.
One place that we might start is with our experience of responding to COVID-19 during 2020. Many communities have re-discovered a deep sense of what it is to support our neighbours. Jesus said that alongside loving God, loving our neighbour was one of the two greatest commandments which summed up all the others.
Pope Francis has recently reflected that we need to bring our attitude to the environment into relationship with loving our neighbours.
To love the environment is to love our neighbour. To neglect the environment, to treat it as simply there to be exploited for the use of human beings, is not to love our neighbour.
Loving God, loving our neighbour as ourselves is to love, care for and tend the creation. Human beings are part of the deeply interconnected set of relationships which constitute the ecology of creation.
Let us pray for God’s grace in 2021 that we may have the wisdom to discern the implications of seeing ourselves and all humanity as bound up within God’s creation.
Let’s allow ourselves in this new year to discern the deep connections God has built into our environment!
The Very Revd Peter Robinson
Dean of Derby