Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Sustainable Infrastructure 1: Understanding the Problem

This is the first in a series of posts inspired by the book “Sustainable Infrastructure: Principles into Practice”, written by Charles Ainger and Richard Fenner from the Centre for Sustainable Development at the Cambridge University Engineering Department. My fourth year MEng project involved conducting research to develop improved ceramic water filters for use in developing countries working with the Centre for Sustainable Development, so I feel a personal connection with the authors as well as the subject matter.
The question I want to address is this: how do we get the step change in the infrastructure we need to  build and maintain to avoid locking ourselves into high-carbon, environmentally damaging solutions for the next 50 years?

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Advent Reflections 6: A Time to Lament

This post is the sixth in a series of weekly posts during Advent inspired by "Holy Boy", a choral nativity which we performed in Acomb on 21st December.

On Christmas Day, I reflected on the importance of joy as part of the Christian life, especially in the context of celebrating together as a whole community and sharing God's joy together. Jesus is born! Emmanuel - God is with us! Hallelujah!
But there is another side to the Christmas story which I want to reflect upon today, the day we remember the murder of the Holy Innocents. The choir that sang Holy Boy with songs of celebration also sang of a family pushed around by the Romans, forced to travel miles to their familial home town to be registered, and the children sang "Bethlehem is a Long Way", which includes the lyrics:
"Fools we are (to travel so far) but we can't stay. Please don't hinder us, we just obey, it's safer that way! We must go because that's what they say, and because what they say goes!"

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Advent Reflections 5: Learning to Rejoice

This post is the sixth in a series of weekly posts during Advent inspired by "Holy Boy", a Christmas oratorio which we performed in Acomb on 21st December.
Today is a day for deep joy, as our choir and band expressed in joyful song on Sunday in Holy Boy, and in a variety of carols and readings in York Minster on Monday night, and in Christmas services around the world today. So this is a reflection about rejoicing.
As Christians, we are actually commanded to rejoice (more than a dozen times in Paul's letters, for example). CS Lewis wrote that: "Joy is the serious business of heaven".

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Getting Transport Policy Right: The Harrogate Line Blues

Since August, my new job in Harrogate has meant a daily commute on the York – Harrogate – Leeds line, a secondary route in need of some TLC. But before I explain the problems, here are four things I love about my daily train journey:
  1. The fantastic view over Knaresborough and the Nidd gorge from the Nidd Viaduct.
  2. Mist rising gently over the flat fields of the Vale of York between York and Knaresborough (ie before it gets into the hills).

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Advent Reflections 4: The Advent Antiphons

This post is the fourth in a series of weekly posts during Advent inspired by "Holy Boy", a Christmas oratorio which we're performing at Acomb Methodist Church on 21st December at 2.30pm.

The Advent Antiphons are an ancient set of seven Latin prayers recalling the promises of God, to be read or sung each day in the week between 17th December and Christmas Eve. These were immortalised in the carol "O Come, O Come, Immanuel", though we don't usually sing all seven verses! So over the next week I invite you to join me in praying through them as we prepare for Christmas. Thanks to the Northumbria Community for their inspiration in Celtic Daily Prayer!  

17th December
O come, O come, thou wisdom from above, The universe sustaining with thy love.
Thou springest forth from the Almighty's mouth. Subdue us now, and lead us in Thy truth.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Advent Reflections 3: A Song of Mary

This post is the third in a series of weekly posts during Advent inspired by "Holy Boy", a Christmas oratorio which we're performing in Acomb on 21st December.
Having spent a few weeks considering the promise of Emmanuel, the story now moves to a teenage girl in an unknown small town, who has just been told that her life will be turned upside down by being unexpectedly pregnant with the Son of God (and not even married yet! What will the village gossips say, let alone her fiance?)

Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Fossil-Free Nativity

This year I'm singing in two very different productions of the Christmas story. I've written previously about Holy Boy, a choral nativity we're perfoming in York on 21st December. Yesterday I took part in a fossil-free nativity play outside Methodist Central Hall, next to Westminster Abbey, calling for the Methodist and Anglican churches in the UK to follow the lead of the World Council of Churches and divest from fossil fuels. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Advent Reflections 2: Making All Things New

This post is the second in a series of weekly posts during Advent inspired by "Holy Boy", a Christmas oratorio which we're performing in Acomb on 21st December.

Last week we concluded that we have a God who is passionately committed to redeeming his creation and our great Advent hope is this: that we will be part of his plan to make all things new.
Some Christians have unfortunately misunderstood this promise of a “new heaven and a new earth” to mean that this one doesn’t matter very much and we can pollute it or use up all the resources with impunity. Like a trawler fishing boat dragging a net along the bottom of the ocean to catch not just the mature fish but also the babies and the smaller fry that they feed on, it doesn’t matter if we take everything and leave nothing to replenish what we have taken. It doesn’t matter if our lifestyles need three planets to support us and we are slowly killing off one ecosystem after another without recognising that the natural world has limits.