On Friday, Rev Child led assembly in the Cathedral and spoke about Harvest and the recent trip to see Gaia in St Peter Mancroft, and why he hopes looking at the earth can change our perspective on the world:
"Early October is the season of Harvest festivals and giving thanks for the crops we can see ripening in the fields around Norfolk. It’s a golden time of year. On Monday the Lower School came up to the chapel for their Harvest service, all of them with something to donate to the Norwich Food Bank, and with happy songs to sing. Every year I’ve led one of these services, the sun has shone in through the tall windows of the chapel. I hope that Norwich School pupils have sunlit memories of harvest time.
But Harvest this year feels a bit different (or it does for me, anyway). We are thinking more intently about the natural world than we have ever done. And the voice that says we need to do something about the problem of climate change is growing louder. As many of you will know, there is a global conference in Glasgow in two weeks' time where the world’s politicians will discuss how we, as a planet, should clean up our act. (A bit later I will lead us in a prayer for that conference.) Alongside this, all sorts of programmes have been made to reach out to the public, for instance the BBC’s documentary about the Earthshot Prize. It’s presented by our future king, and it features the gentle but insistent insights of David Attenborough. (It’s worth a look if you haven’t seen it.)
In this cathedral, we’ve had a memorable visit from a dinosaur, which, as Mr Gent told us, is a reminder not only of our planet’s long, long history, but also of its future. And Dippy is not the only touring exhibition in town; some of us went along to St Peter Mancroft church yesterday to look at the Gaia exhibition, a 6-metre-wide high resolution model of planet earth. If you haven’t yet seen it, the Gaia exhibition is free, and it’s right in the middle of the city (opposite the Forum); why not go and have a look if you’re in Norwich during half term (like Dippy, it’s there until the end of October.)
The first thing our group did when we visited yesterday was simply to be still and look at the earth. Here’s what some of you said about it:
“It calms me to see where we live.”
“It makes me think about how amazing it is.”
“It clears my mind when I look at it.”
I think we got a taste of what the actor William Shatner experienced earlier this week. Shatner played Captain Kirk in Star Trek, pretending to travel the cosmos, but of course never leaving the film studio. When, in his nineties, he actually got to see the planet from space, he was quite overcome with awe and emotion – as you may have seen on the news. Many people who have been to space have found the same thing.
Looking at our beautiful planet, from whatever angle, is something that we need to do more and more. It is, in fact, what the first chapter of the Bible tells us God did when he had finished all his creating.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
You can’t look at the world like that without it changing you; and I hope it changes all of us. I hope it changes the way we eat, the way we travel, the way we do politics, the way we do industry and commerce. I hope it changes your ambitions for your future careers, so that as a generation you don’t accept the polluting habits that companies and countries have got into. I hope that looking at the world changes the world. Because it is very good; and how dare we make it otherwise.
Harvest time is a celebration of the goodness of our world; but this particular Harvest time is also a reminder that we all have work to do to keep it that way.
Loving God, we give thanks for the goodness of the world around us.
Help us to see it afresh, and never to take it for granted.
We pray for the forthcoming climate summit in Glasgow, and for the leaders who will attend it.
May careful discussion lead to positive action; and may there be a concern for the world’s poorest, and for those who are already affected by climate change.
Lord, make it possible for us all to change how we live, so that the world becomes a more hopeful place. Amen."