When preachers reflect from the pulpit on the familiar parable of the sower, many undoubtedly expound upon the metaphorical meaning of where the sower's seeds fall: the path, the rocky ground, the thorns, and the good soil. What sometimes gets missed is that this is also a scripture about prophetic hope in the face of stubborn intransigence. The initial situation is bleak. The heart of the people has "grown dull." They can neither see nor hear what is before them. Still, Jesus counsels a persistent faith. He knows that the "mysteries of the kingdom" are germinating and a bountiful harvest will come.
Many Christians are familiar with the passage from 1 Timothy 4:12 which says, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the ensuing protests from Indian Tribes and their allies garnered the international spotlight last year. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose homelands about the Missouri River, emerged as the leading voice as thousands of indigenous people from across the United States, Canada, and the world joined them in protest of pipeline that became known as “the black snake.” DAPL is a $3.8 billion 1,168 mile-long pipeline that will carry up to 500,000 barrels of fine crude oil per day from the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota to a river port in Illinois. The pipeline crosses the Missouri River, the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the region. The pipeline had already been rerouted away from Bismarck, North Dakota, a mostly non-Indian population. (Read more.)
A new and engaged community was formed at the 4th Annual Environmental Justice For All! Retreat, which took place at United Church of Christ’s Silver Lake Conference Center in Connecticut this past weekend. A signature program of the UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center, this Retreat marked a new chapter for the program. (Read more.)
When I am visiting churches, I often pass out four bookmarks that contain what I believe are foundational truths for the church in our time. Today, I want to reflect further on what those bookmarks have to say. (Read more.)
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with dinosaurs. (I simply cannot understand anyone who wasn’t/isn’t!) Fantasy and mythology are fine, but dinosaurs were real—you can actually touch and see their bones. I’m far more excited about my son’s dinosaur toys than he is, but he is only 2 years old. My very favorite topic of study and discussion when I was young was the mystery of how and why these creatures vanished. How could monsters that powerful simply disappear? Was it the result of a dinosaur war? Overpopulation? Aliens? Were they late for the Ark, and Noah got impatient? (Read more.)
Saugatuck and Douglas are sister cities — sibling villages, really — on Michigan’s West coast, arranged around a river harbor that flows into Lake Michigan. Our borders interlace to the degree that most residents and no tourists in this town have any idea when they are leaving one village to enter the other. The nearest communities that most people would recognize as cities are Chicago, around the bend of the lake, Grand Rapids to the north, Kalamazoo, east and south of us, and South Bend, over the Michigan border to the south. A majority of the people who own property here have summer and weekend places.
Why the geography lesson? Because it’s important in understanding how a Creation Justice Team at Douglas United Church of Christ has come to reach beyond these villages to the broader world. (Read more.)
After graduating from Harvard Divinity School in 2014, Zach Kerzee received the support of the United Methodist Church to start a new church in Grafton, Massachusetts. The church centers its community life and worship around a meal shared at tables every Thursday evening. The food for the meal comes from an organic farm next door. Through this and other practices, the church has helped pioneer a unique and innovative approach to ministry. I interviewed Kerzee as part of a series of interviews with church leaders who are envisioning and bringing to life new ways of being church while having a notable emphasis on creation care and justice. (Read more.)
A recent viral video explores the simple question, “What if Earth treated us the way we treat Earth?” Scenes show a young girl dressed in a planet Earth costume as she gives humans a dose of their own medicine. One man is forced to inhale car exhaust. A woman lounging in a pool has oil poured on her. Two men relaxing in a park have garbage dumped on them as the girl yells, “Biodegrade that, punks!” In a clever way, the video uses the humor of role reversal to instill empathy for our damaged and degraded planet. (Read more.)