18 January 2020
SuperVolcanoes and other worrying things
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Psalm 46,
It was at a family gathering over Christmas that I realised how many things we have to worry about. I really had been too busy reading the huge tome I was given about how the planet was about to be destroyed by our unthinking use of carbon monoxide producing fuels, to worry about the smaller details of living which affect humanity. “Are the vegetables washed properly?” One expectant father was showing his concern for the unborn child. And “has that fetta cheese been made with pasturised milk ?” A midwife friend tells me her pregnant daughter had phoned from London to ask if the unborn child she was carrying would be harmed, as she had eaten an uncooked slice with raw egg used as part of the ingredients. The advice “Its too late to worry and very unlikely that anything drastic would happen.” So those with the next generation coming to dinner now need a disclaimer statement, - veges washed , no listeriosis carrying shell fish on the menu, no salads that haven’t been just made fresh, no raw egg and yes the ham is hot, straight out of the oven in fact
I thought I only had the end of the world as we know it to come in the shape of global warming and rising sea levels. . But wait there’s more! A documentary on parasites, the bubonic plague – black death rearing its ugly head in New Mexico where apparently the local rats keep it going centuries after it decimated Europe, A dreadful virus in the depths of Africa which someone survived because he was a British army regular and flown home and isolated while he battled the virus – the locals apparently are not so fortunate and usually whole villages are wiped out. The mosquitoes whining in the Papatoetoe nights suddenly become malevolent bearers of deadly disease. Against this background SARS seemed relatively benign and the possibility of a mutation of the bird flu must have occurred after the documentary was made.
Of course we need to take precautions, to use basic health measures, and to be aware of causes and effects. It was heart warming to see that for most of humanity we are capable of working together against a common foe. I could just about live with that – but then came the Supervolcano. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but the science of geology has had a boost recently. They have discovered that we are living on shaky ground . There are masses of molten magma just under the surface and it’s the supervolcane that we need to worry about. One like Taupo was a little while ago in geological terms. Yellowstone park in the United States, will at sometime, and it could be this year or in a thousand years time, blow up again. It is due to do so , and when it does the docu-drama made it clear, that we won’t need to worry about how much carbon monoxide we pump into the skies, or how many trees we cut down, because not only will the United States be covered with ash, but Europe and the rest of the world will have an ash cloud that cuts out the sun. Earth’s temperatures will drop for a considerable time. All we will be worrying about is how to keep warm and how to grow food. The documentaryfinished with the chief geologist saying “this is an end but it is also the way new life begins”
So what do we do? You might have thought that your arthritis or family, or whether our house is secure against breakins was what there was to worry about. – No! there is plenty more to fear. And I guess people have always known that. We live with the illusion that we are in control and while we are blessed with knowledge which allows us to cure illnesses, repair damage and communicate with one another globally, we do not, and never will have, the ability to hold all things together.
So do we just do our own thing while we are able? Do we become paralysed with fear like possums in the headlights and just give up saying it is all meaningless?. Or do we place our trust in God and live in love for one another?. Paul wrote to a young church in Corinth 2000 years ago. They were expecting the end of the world at any time but he told them to get things in proportion. Buildings will disappear, businesses will eventually come to an end, economies will crash and powerful nations will fall. Our knowledge will always be limited but that which is of love will not end. Paul told the Corinthians, that love casts out fear. The way of living for those who follow Christ has always been to live in hope and to live in the freedom of knowing God’s love for humanity.
And it was in the context of fearfulness that Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:22-31
May God bless you to live in the freedom of Christ and love one another
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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