'GIFT SUNDAY' IS BACK
This year we are asking (for those who are able to help) for donations of new items for the soup run team to hand out to the homeless people of Bristol this Christmas.
(We are unable to take any children’s gifts this year but we hope we can continue that again from next year).
At each Mass from Tues 7th until Sun 12th Dec there will be a place for you to put your donated gifts for the homeless before or after Mass (we will not be having a procession so please place your gifts in there when you arrive/leave). Or bring them to the parish office during the day if you are unable to come to Mass.
The soup run team would love to have the following items:
large chocolate bars,
new pairs/packs of socks,
new bobble/woolly hats,
UNWRAPPED please this year so the team can make up equal packs from their stocks and from these items to fill gift bags. These will be given to all the homeless people they meet over Christmas time.
Thank you in advance for the generosity you always show for our annual gift collections.
Following COP26, our intrepid 'Living Simply' leader Bella was asked to keep a diary. She has shared it with us & we thought you might like to look at her day to day account.
Yesterday there was an interfaith service in the centre, George Square, where members of all religious faiths prayed for the world and for the successful outcome of the conference. It was very impressive. the message was one of peace and cooperation which starts with each one of us aligning our inner and outer realities in harmony and working and uniting with others.
It is clear something important is happening. There are lots of official posters and banners around. I went have a wander to get my bearings. I am about half an hour's walk from the two centres, the Blue Zone which is for the politicians where all the negotiating is being done, and the Green Zone which is the exhibition space for talks and films and performances from civil society and NGOs. There are other exhibits elsewhere of new ideas.
The police are present in numbers but not obtrusively so. There are quite a few roads shut, and all the languages and dress codes of the world are evident in the street. It feels full of excitement and purpose.
The pilgrimages to Glasgow, 1000 mile Relay from St Ives in July, the G7 meeting, to Glasgow, called Rise to the Moment by Young Christian Climate Network, several from Europe and wider afield, and one that started in London and Bristol called the Caminotocop all were greeted on their arrival in Glasgow with indigenous peoples and others to celebrate. The YCCN brought a boat made of a wicker coffin with mast attached, with sails bearing pictures from the threatened parts of the world. The Caminotocop brought the coat of hopes, which stitched patches expressing people's desire for a better world onto a coat. They will invite it to be worn by the political leaders at COP.
Greta Thunberg is here along with her fellow activists from the global south who I understand spoke on the arrival of the Rainbow Warrior which is the Greenpeace ship. I was unable to see it as I think it was not allowed to come right up the Clyde to the exhibition spaces.
This day dawned bright and sunny though a bit brisk, delightful for Glasgow. The Clyde was looking beautiful.
I went first thing to the Quaker Meeting House which is hosting a hub for information and events. There I met friends with whom I went to the Earth Vigil outside the UN pedestrian entrance to the Blue Zone, in Finneston Street, just up from the Squinty Bridge (what a wonderful name!) About 5 -12 of us sat there all day praying, as people from all over the world passed busily into the Blue Zone through the turnstiles. There was no car traffic so people were able to stop and talk to us, and photograph us endlessly! We have heard hopeful noises from what is going on inside the conference, but nothing too final yet.
There are myriads of events, it is like the Edinburgh Fringe, you are spoilt for choice. There are Covid restrictions and mask wearing and Lateral Flow Tests are obligatory. There were other groups, such as campaigning for China's activists and Uighar, and Extinction Rebellion, of which we were the Faith Bridge, so a coalition of all faiths and none praying together in silent intention for the conference. All the responses we got were positive, if not compassionate - you must be frozen, to which the reply was - it shows we mean business. We were offered, and took it up, a free lunch of soup and bread with the Salvation Army which was hosting a full range of events on food and farming with Nourish Scotland and EcoEat.
I later went to a Tearfund event in St George's Tron, which was led by the environment Anglican bishop, Graham Upton, and featured Ruth Valerio, on behalf of Tearfund, who spoke of bringing to Glasgow people from Panama, India and Nigeria who are experiencing climate breakdown now, and the wisdom of the indigenous peoples who have come, and Richard Black who was a delegate to the Blue Zone as he works in Energy monitoring, and has launched a website called zero tracker which will make sure the claims of nations and companies are consistent with no more than 1.5 warming.
Another beautiful and sunny day with not much wind, a joy to be in Glasgow.
I went to the Quaker Meeting House, where Alastair McIntosh was speaking on 'Satyagraha', the power of the truth or reality, and how we must acknowledge honestly our failings, follow the science and do all we can in our situation to help whoever needs it, in a polite and respectful way. That this is activism, and engagement in bringing about the Kingdom of God which is not in our time but God's. I bought his book, 'Riders on the Storm'.
I then went to the Jesuit church of St Aloysius which is hosting a Mass with Cafod at the weekend.
I prayed for a little at the Earth Vigil, where one young man is doing a fast for the success of the conference, then went to the Green Zone. This was mindbogglingly busy with airport-style security, but one we got in and had a cup of coffee and a bite, we found ourselves in conversation with a Uruguayan diplomat or delegate who had some interesting perspectives on the COP, and Britain in the world, and the future. These kinds of discussions are going on all the time, at a far deeper level than normal conversation, and they are really stimulating. We went around some of the exhibitions, where very impressive displays were made for various corporations, with some really interesting innovations. Some seemed in the business of making the most of the publicity rather than serious engagement but it was a huge showcase so would expose any lack of good faith.
We finished the day with a performance in the Green Zone by the members of the Caminotocop, who walked 500 miles to Glasgow, explaining why they did it and how they developed community and support, found love and hospitality from all sorts of people on their way, and discovered the joy of the journey, the beauty of the planet and what they did not need, how much it changed their approach to life. There were songs and poems, all from nonprofessional performers with great talent, and culminated in the Coat of Hopes which began its journey in Newhaven and was added to in small patchwork squares as they went, embodying people's hopes and dreams. It is presented to the delegates every morning to see if they wish to put it on, thus taking on these hopes and prayers, and many people tried it on this evening too, accompanied by a song ballad. It was really moving.
The Green zone is very large, and has attracted a huge number of people but is very well staffed and efficiently run. Glasgow is coping very well with all these visitors, causing such disruption. I have found people unfailingly friendly and helpful. I am afraid from Bristol experience I expect people to be grumpy and cross. It might have been the weather, but I feel Glasgow is determined to make a success of this remarkable opportunity, and so far so good.
The news from the Blue Zone was that substantive progress would be made on funding and helping the poorest countries, but as with all these meetings the countries concerned need the money now, not in a further delay of several years. There are good signs about reforestation too.
There were some demonstrations which were contained fairly strictly by the police, and also that some delegates from the global south were experiencing some difficulties with the police, even though they were fully accredited. Apart from these accounts the conference seems to be running smoothly and peacefully, even with the enormous numbers involved.
I went to join the procession of the Coat of Hopes which sang through the streets of Glasgow with the Caministas and others in procession. I even wore the coat for a little. It is very humbling and warm and full of love and hopes and sorrow of all who helped make it. A Sudanese man also wore the coat for a little while we sang. It is a symbolic act of great encouragement.
I then went to a panel meeting by Christian Aid, with Giles Goddard of Faith for the Climate, who chaired it with Helen Burnett of the Camino, Jonathan Wittenberg, rabbi, Graham Upton Bishop, Mariam from Kenya 7th Day adventist, and Kamran from Birmingham. They made so many interesting points about the power of faiths working together that scares the powerful, and that social justice and climate justice are integral to all faiths. A propos of above, Graham and Giles admitted feeling profoundly uncomfortable in the Blue Zone, because they wondered if the indigenous people invited were really being heard, especially as there were opulent pavilions erected for each country, competing for the best. To what extent is it an elaborate show? On the other hand there is a real movement among people, what goes on outside the Blue Zone is more to the point. Graham said he had gone to the meeting with the Pope earlier in October with faith leaders and scientists when they had handed a declaration to Alok Sharma, you can look on the Vatican website, but he had to argue for 20 mins to get the Archbishop of Canterbury invited to COP and even then he was not given accreditation to meet world leaders on Monday. As he said this government is the most theologically illiterate ever (though I don't think that is the most important way they are illiterate, and it just joins all their other moral and practical failings).
I went to pray at the Vigil (I really needed to pray!) and I met the Bishop for the Environment, John Arnold twice as he passed nodding appreciatively to our prayer vigil. Later in the afternoon I went to the Green Zone to see a meeting with Amazonian leaders. These were all women, and their stories ranged from the tragic, where a leader's whole tribe was flooded from their ancestral lands by a hydroelectric dam that overran its budget and ran at 2% of capacity having killed the river it was on. Theoretically, this was a green renewable source of energy and the company spoke shining words that were not borne out. Another community leader was fighting tooth and nail against 160 small hydroelectric projects and 40 ports being built to take exports of corn and soya, affecting hundreds of communities, and another group successfully implemented green energy through community consultation and involvement, careful research for the best solution. And the same kind of stories from Colombia. It was striking how these women spoke with such authority and demanded their rights and justice.
On my way out I noted the Green Zone was designed with principles of sustainability, good resource use, 100% renewable energy, but still there was no signing, and even at one session they did not get an interpreter because the assumption was that everyone would speak English. I will take up with them the point about lack of facilities for those with sight or hearing impairment next time I go.
It is difficult to see if this is going to be a success or not. I have revised my 3Cs, commitment, cash and cooperation, of expectation to simply it will be a success if the emissions start to come down and the developing countries get money for damage reparation now, not in three years time.
Today I once again joined the Coat of Hopes procession, but then walked to meet a Laudato Si Movement staff member who wanted to interview Laudato Si Animators. We went to the Jesuit Centre where there were gathering 37 young Uk activists hosted by Cafod for the weekend, and they were setting up the online 24hr prayer vigil, so a hive of activity. I also met Bishop Nolan, who spoke on behalf of the Scottish Catholic bishops that they had decided to divest from all fossil fuel investments. He spoke so well about all the arguments against disinvestment and the reason they reached the conclusion it was better to divest, so it was really persuasive.
I then went to wait for the School Strike to arrive in George Square, where a great many young activists from the global south explained how much and how desperately the climate crisis was affecting them now, particularly in Uganda and in Brazil. And Greta spoke last, and excoriatingly, about the 'greenwash' and hollow show of this conference. The School Strike filled the square, with a youth band of young musicians, black and white and differently abled who played excellently with gusto in the increasing chill of November. There were also young children shouting for Climate Justice Now. It was inspiring, even though there were a few Gospel evangelists who claimed this was God's judgement and the end of the world.
Nov 6th and 7th
The Green Zone IS open to everyone, and I think they are just being cautious making it sound daunting in the blurb. I have not had to show a Lateral Flow Test (though I have done them daily) or a Vaccine Certificate, and if you just wish to walk round you can, they like to register you if you have booked something, but my phone is so old it would not do the ticket app, and it kept losing the emails that were several days old, so I explained and they looked me up centrally and let me in. That said it is in the Science Centre and is a long way to walk really, (there is a bus shuttle) along with airport style security, put your bag in a tray and walk through the arch etc, not a problem. They are all very welcoming once you get there. There is ice melting from thousands of years ago, and some projects but much is just show. There is a space for indigenous and other leaders to give talks or perform and a cinema.
On Saturday I went to the Jesuit church, the biggest in Glasgow, for a Mass with three bishops, Bishop Nolan and Bishop John Arnold among them and five Jesuit priests. Bishop Nolan was the celebrant and emphasised the prayer for the climate, while Bishop Arnold spoke of optimism, the science is clear, and people are realising that action is necessary, but he doubted the leadership necessary. He went on to say we all need to change and that the smallest action has a ripple effect.
It was raining a real mizzle and sometimes more, as we tethered an inflated globe saying Laudato Si and Our Common Home outside the church. As we took it down the stairs it snagged on an overhanging pediment, and a great gash was made. We all sought to mend it, drying the rain and trying to stick it, but an artist, who was parading with a banner of the Mother of Mercy just happened to have picked up some large safety pins and gaffer tape as she left home(for her own banner) and was able to pin the sides together and tape it so it was only a slow puncture through the march. Needless to say this provoked ironic comment on patching up our wounded world.
We walked to Kelvingrove Park where there were thousands and thousands assembled, I am sure the 100,000 was an underestimate, and we waited for hours before finally setting off with the faith section of the march, which included the Buddhists, the Iona Community, TearFund, Christian Aid, Christian Climate Action, Justice and Peace and SCIAF among others. The procession slowly wound its way through rain and wind to George Square and on to the Saltmarket and down to Glasgow Green. At one point there was an unexplained holdup, until we reached a place where the police were kettling some communists, who finally reached the destination under police escort long after us. The previous day a peace march had been kettled for some hours. Before we arrived at Glasgow Green other demonstrators were leaving so the march was huge. It took us till 4.30 to reach it and any speeches were long gone. We had struggled with the globe which had a mind of its own in the wind, but we got it there relatively undeflated, so we deflated it and took it back for a professional mend. The group with Laudato Si, Staff and Animators then went for a well appreciated meal together in George Square, cold damp quite exhausted but glad to have done it. The feedback from people in the streets and looking down from windows was universally positive.
Today the Blue Zone had a rest day, so the Coat of Hopes was not processed to meet them. There was a Mass at the Jesuit church of St Aloysius, where all the great and the good of Glasgow were invited, civil and religious ie the Provost and other civic dignitaries, heads of all the denominations nationally and other religious leaders, even the Papal Nuncio. The Sanctuary was filled with a dozen bishops and another twenty priests. We had the joy of a fully sung Mass, in Latin so the guests from abroad might feel it familiar, and a good homily with intercessions from guests from the global south. The text could hardly have been more apposite how the widows in Elijah's time and in Jesus' demonstrated love, in spite of their poverty. After the Mass I was privileged to be introduced to Fr Joshtrom Kureethadam, who has responsibility, in the Dicastery for Integral Human Development in the Vatican, for Ecology and Creation and has inspired many of us in the webinars we have attended. The Laudato Si Action Programme has more and more institutions signed up and will be formally launched on 14th November. It really feels as if while the secular government is not taking the issues very seriously the religious leaders are galvanising the 80% of the world's population to act now and press for effective action.
Nov 8th and 9th
I am finding more reasons for the COP being exclusionary, among which using Covid as an excuse and pretty dubious assigning of accreditation as the papers exposed, the largest delegation being the fossil fuels. So all is not well, let alone the issue of otherwise abled people. However I was told that on the children's march for the speeches there was a person signing.
Yesterday the weather was not good, cold and wet. I walked with the Coat and went to the Vigil with an older activist prominent in Bristol circles, Sue Parfitt. While we were praying the drizzle began and we decamped to the Kingston Bridge but not before we got soaked. However we stayed and managed to warm up sharing food to keep us going. Later I went to a Christian Aid service where the music was conducted by John Bell of the Iona Community, teaching us songs and choruses from all over the world We heard from Uganda as an example of the difficulties experienced by East Africa, from other pastors urging action, most notably a pentecostal pastor who said Marvin Gaye linked climate and social justice fifty years ago, not least in his song, Mercy mercy. The Head of Christian Aid spoke of the work it does, and Rowan Williams reminded us of God's original harmony in Genesis and the call to Jubilee or restitution and that we are far from the harmony with each other and creation: Oh that today you would listen to his voice, harden not your hearts. And the voices that are not being heard are the indigenous communities who protect the environment and even worse the indigenous activists who are persecuted and often killed for their activism. Then a speaker from the Young Christian Climate Movement who did a relay of 1000 miles called Rise to the Moment, urging us to act now and to plan for after COP. We also had magnificent singing from the Trinity Gospel Choir.
Today dawned bright and clear, even sunny. I walked with the Coat and we paused outside the Blue Zone turnstiles as indigenous peoples were giving their testimony. As it happened there were even more takers for wearing the coat, including a young man from Guinea, and several women. As we walked the Coat up the road, we met John Kerry, and we invited him to wear the coat. He assured us that they were working as hard as they could for a good outcome but declined sadly to wear the coat since he was running very late. A little later Caroline Lucas came as agreed and wore the coat and a number of other people also accepted the invitation. I then went and sat at the Vigil outside the turnstiles, where people from Peru, Brazil, Chile, France and UK came to speak to me, some were journalists and made an interview, another was a landscape architect promoting rewilding. There was an atmosphere of greater urgency as the COP is drawing to a close and high level ministers were in evidence. Just opposite was a display of the Red Dress Project created in response to the missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic in Canada and the United States. The on-going project began in 2010 and commemorates missing and murdered indigenous women from the First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and Native. There was also a Ceilidh courtesy of XR. There are some careful and important negotiations being concluded, but as yet the practical implementation is missing. It looks like COP may overrun its final day of 12th November.
We processed again with the Coat of Hopes, and put ribbons of hopes and prayers on the fence, with a patchwork which came from Minnesota, which humanised it. There were XR talks, some talks by Chilean teenagers who are suffering a 15-year drought, so there is no water for anything, even to wash your hands. And they are ill with heavy metal pollution. I was getting very cold now so went home via the Quaker Centre. They had a candlelit vigil at the Blue Zone, which I missed.
Nov 11th Remembrance Day
Today was the last walk for the Coat of Hopes and the procession greeted the friendly police we had got to know on our way each day. Tomorrow Barbara will take it home, but we did some final invitations in the Blue Zone and then they went to meet Little Amal in Pollockshiels which was a very warming community celebration. Little Amal then I believe walked to Kelvingrove to meet the Lord Provost.
At the Blue Zone there was a 'die in' all day, where people lay under shrouds to express the many extra deaths climate change causes, including drought, drowning, starvation, conflict, suicide. It was a weird experience to lie under the sheet without moving as people spoke about examples of these deaths. Also a bit cold but people continued to volunteer throughout the drizzle of the late afternoon. It was televised by the COP TV channel which came out specially as the message was so important. There was also an anti plastic waste demonstration and many other XR activists. Some were targeting JP Morgan. There is huge and creative civil protest demanding the goals of only 1.5, loss and damage to be paid, and the ending of fossil fuels subsidy. This latter has been blocked in the Blue Zone by interested economies like Saudi Arabia and Australia. The Earth Vigil continued.
A lot of delegates appeared to be leaving later in the afternoon, although some were working through last night to give communiques, and there is so much still to finalise.
Glasgow is beginning to sense the end of the huge jamboree that has been COP26 with events and celebrities everywhere, and there have been very good inputs from all the international community especially the Global South in the People's Assembly events.
The coat of Hopes was on its way home and we continued the prayer as the last hours of the conference spun out. I went home early and packed ready for an all night prayer vigil at the Jesuit Spirituality Centre, where we prayed from 11 to 8 am sometimes walking down to the Blue Zone which was still quietly busy. We were praying for a breakthrough but not the kind that happened, where India altered the language from phasing out coal to phasing down. We were cruelly disappointed.
I got on the train and came home.
Thank you to Deacon Vincent for his Reflections for Feast of Christ the King Year B
1st Reading from the Prophet Daniel 7: 13-14.
When this vision was first written down the Jewish people most probably envisioned it was the Jewish people returning from exile in Babylon receiving their inheritance. Christians have always interpreted it as referring to Jesus, as Messiah receiving his inheritance. In fact Jesus, himself refers to this passage during his interrogation by the High Priest in Mark 14: 62, and Matthew 26: 64. When Jesus quotes this passage from Daniel as referring to himself; the High Priest is appalled and accuses him of blasphemy and it means death for Jesus. It is a wonderful image to reflect over and see just how accurate the Father’s vision to Daniel really was. It emphasises what Jesus was referring to when he claimed that before Moses was, he existed. Jesus existed in God’s plan from the beginning after the fall of Adam. God really is great!!
Psalm 92: 1-2, 5.
This song proclaims the Kingship of the Lord, it is full of joy and excitement. Let us, then, join in with our elder brothers and sisters of the Jewish people, in giving glory to the Lord on this wonderful feast.
2nd Reading from the Book of the Apocalypse 1: 5-8.
This passage tells us that Jesus is sending his greetings to the seven churches and he is at one with this unveiling, revelation. John is full of emotion and exaltation, We have the central Christian doctrine of the Resurrection, and the rebellious creed that Jesus is the real ruler of the world. Jesus loves us and has freed us from our sins by the shedding of his blood, but Jesus is not distinct from God, we have the phrase “to him be glory and power”, a term reserved for God himself, so we are being presented with the first realisation of Trinitarian theological exploration. We conclude with a great exposition of the Father, the Alpha & Omega, the Almighty. We are called to pay attention to this Revelation, by John, its’ author.
The Holy Gospel according to John 18: 33-37.
God bless you all & stay safe. Deacon Vincent