In the old westerns the good cowboys wore white hats and the baddies were in black hats – so it was clear who to support, who was right, what was good. Good and evil are not separated quite as easily as by hat-wearing however! In the Book of Revelation there are those who are marked by the mark of the beast and it says no one can buy or sell without being marked. There are also those who are marked by the blood of the Lamb and at first sight it seems there are two groups, but as I read this vivid account, it makes sense to me that I am in both groups – living in a complex world, where I pay tax, (tribute to Caesar), I am caught up in the systems and structures. I am reliant on others for my news, for policing and police policy; I buy my food but those who grew it may not be well-paid. A new car has a battery made with precious metals, whose mining has generated vicious wars in the Congo, but my older car emits worse pollution!

The Chinese economic empire is expanding but I like my smart-phone and fridge which are made in China. Not only is their economy impacting others, but the authorities have incarcerated tens of thousands of Uighur people whose crime is to be non-ethnic Chinese, and have ruthlessly crushed dissent in Hong Kong, but I still like my smart-phone.

Brexit and Covid responses have divided our own nation and created domestic versions of those in white hats and black hats, but we disagree on who are right. We take sides and take pot-shots and worse at others who disagree.

Fake news, and alternative facts, and definitely alternative explanations. How might we hear God, how can we act wisely?

In the days of Noah people went about their daily lives quite probably arguing and engrossed, ..  I leave you to finish that particular story. I don’t think we can wish away Climate Change either.

If we are to engage with the issues of today we need to wrestle with both complexity (which does not mean there cannot be a clear message emerging), and we need to wrestle with the divisions and divisiveness in society and between societies. We cannot simply claim a white hat, but neither should we accept any voice and all voices as true. Vested interests will spread partial versions.

Climate Change to me is a reality and a crisis and a scandal generated predominantly by over-consumption and lack of consideration for the impact. None of us can retreat to a place and a way of life where we are completely green unless we become a) a hermit and / or b) the very wealthy owner of a self-sufficient island! We are marked and compromised, but may we also display the mark of Christ and a commitment to justice and Kingdom values.

Gracious God,

Creator of this wonderful but damaged world

Forgive us our indifference

and our narrow interests.

Open our eyes to see as you see

and strengthen our hands and wills

to do as you seek us to do.

Guide the leaders of our world

that they may make the right decisions

for the sake of the needy,

the damaged earth

and future generations.

We thank you for this wonderful world;

may we cherish it and its future. Amen

Rev’d Peter Reiss