"I get enough bad news during the week. I don't need to hear more of it in a sermon." As much as I may want people to leave the sanctuary feeling inspired to make a difference in the world, I have occasionally received comments such as this following sermons that address topics like climate change or a particular racial injustice. A comment of this kind can have lots of origins. Maybe someone really has had a week from hell with the worst of news coming from a doctor’s diagnosis or a phone call in the middle of the night. And, then sometimes the comment could simply arise from the comforts of a privileged life that does not want the intrusions of an unjust world.
Hi, I’m Terry Gallagher and over the past several years, I have focused my ministry entirely in the critical work of awakening communities of faith to respond to the climate crisis.
Biodiversity is a template for cultural diversity. We must respect the diverse ways people enter into justice work. Justice is more than one tactic, justice is a principle meant to redeem us from greed. Any time we are reallocating resources we are doing justice work.
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.)