Country Life - pictures and song that reflects some of the pressures of modern country life, with a reminder that if we want to enjoy the countryside we have to ensure that the people who manage the land can afford to do so.
What’s the price of a bottle of milk? is it fair or fixed. In our churches where have a long history of being involved in campaigning for Fairtrade - this involves ensuring farmers are paid a fair price, ( i.e cost of production + profit) given long term contracts which protect them against fluctuations in the market price, fair to both sides. But this scheme only involves overseas trade shouldn't the same principles with our own farmers? Taking milk as an example - the price a farmer recieves varies from 16.5p per litre to 24.05ppl - the production cost is about 21ppl - NFU argue fair price would be 25ppl. Tesco have agreed long term price of 22ppl - but a poor summer has resulted in supply 7% below 5yr average, hence there is temptation to sell to brokers at higher prices - NFU is warning those who do so that short term gains may not be best in the long run. If you go and buy a bottle of milk in Tesco the price you will pay is 75ppl - a long way above the 22ppl the farmer receives - but of course all the people taking the milk from the farm gate to your shopping trolley also need to make a living.
Amos - condemnation of those who can’t wait for holidays and rest days to be over so that they can get back to making money by cheating people with short measures, inflated prices and creative accounting. Central to our relationships with one another - honesty, fairness with a particular concern for the poor, ensuring that the vulnerable are not taken advantage of - if the price of our cheap food is people who can’t make a living - does that leave a sour taste in the mouth?
Steward - strange story - is Jesus suggesting that we take as a role model a dishonest steward? and how can the manager commend his misdeeds? - manager recognises that stewards actions have left the manager with a problem, if he cancels the new deals it is the Manager who will lose face and popularity - generosity is the best investment. He gets himself out of a hole by building social capital - he has friends if he needs them. Jesus is not really talking about economics he is talking about Grace - God’s generous love, squandered on everyone whether they deserve it or not, - generosity brings rewards - so perhaps we are talking about economics - be generous with our wealth - with our property and others will be generous with us, be generous in our love, our care, our lives and we will earn riches way beyond our bank balance
Be fair and everyone benefits, be generous and everyone is enriched - the price of a bottle of milk may be more than it was - but let us not begrudge people a living wage.