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It will hardly affect me, but…

Here’s a brief note with an appeal for practical assistance in relation to two important matters:

  • Environmental Issues
  • Car Parking Charges

In 2 Kings 20, we read about King Hezekiah of Judah showing the riches of his kingdom to envoys from the emerging superpower of the time, Babylon. Following this, the prophet Isaiah visits him, and we read the following exchange:

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord.  And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

“The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”

2 Kings 20:16-20 (New International Version)

Isaiah’s warning was that Hezekiah’s descendants would experience hardship. When he heard this, Hezekiah relaxed – at least there would be peace in his lifetime.

To be clear, as readers we are not supposed to commend Hezekiah for his attitude, which is fundamentally one that seeks an easy life for me (now) with little regard for what will affect others (in the future). We might understand it – after all, he was ill and probably weary of defending his nation against aggressive forces – but we are not to commend or copy it.

There are two ways I would like to apply this to our circumstances today to challenge us to think. The first is in respect of our responsibilities as stewards of God’s creation.

Environmental Issues

Knowing that the world will not end in our lifetime, there’s a real temptation for us to keep on living our lives as “normal” and doing what suits us, without due care for our descendants. That’s a Hezekiah-like attitude. We surely have a duty to love our descendants and one way to show that love is by doing what we can to make their futures positive.

As churches, we have been asked to become “Net-Zero” in terms of carbon emissions by 2030. Some will say this is too slow and others will feel it is an unrealistic or unattainable target. Two things are certain: taking steps towards this is an exercise of love towards the next generation; and this will not happen unless we make a conscious decision to act.

Are you someone with a passion for environmental issues? Could you help keep this issue alive in the churches of our deaneries and support us as we all try to love our descendants? Please get in touch with me…

Car Parking Charges

The second application is in relation to the consultation about Car Parking Charges that has been opened recently by East Herts District Council. The documentation can be seen on their website, here, but fundamentally, the proposals are to increase the charging periods to include Sundays and Bank Holidays and to remove the free half-hour parking option where it currently exists. This is obviously going to act as a disincentive to some to travel into our towns to attend church services, and may also encourage more online or out-of-town shopping. It is hard to argue that either of these are beneficial to the life of the towns, especially right now as we are still emerging from the pandemic.

We are all encouraged to respond as individuals to the consultation. If you’re thinking, “Well, I rarely park in the towns, so it won’t really affect me…” perhaps you might remember Hezekiah and think again!

I have been specifically requested to write a response on behalf of the Deanery. I am happy to do this, but wondered whether there was someone out there who could help me with some research to inform my response. I’d be particularly interested in seeing evidence that links car parking charges with the viability of High Streets. Could you investigate for me and let me have some facts? Or maybe you have other ideas that would be worth mentioning, too…

Please get in touch with me by replying to this email or contacting the Deanery Secretary. The consultation is open till 5th August, but I will need to write and submit my response by Monday 25th July.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Revd Mark Dunstan
Rural Dean