Sermon Scripture: Job 12:7-10; Romans 8:18-25
(A verse from a hymn I learned as a child…)
Our God has made this world. O let us ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. God trusts us with this world, to keep it clean and fair. All earth and trees, the skies and seas, God’s creatures everywhere.
What a lovely affirmation and commentary on the words of scripture we just heard read: The whole creation waits with eager longing… in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay… [and] In the hand of the Creator is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being. (More.)
Cathedral on Fire!: A Church Handbook for the Climate Crisis is a forthcoming book by Brooks Berndt that will be available from UCC Resources this March.
The urgency of the climate crisis requires that we act as if our cathedrals and churches are on fire. Indeed, God’s creation can be seen as one grand cathedral on fire with burning forests and rising temperatures. Amid this dire situation, Brooks Berndt focuses our attention on the unique and vitally needed gifts that churches can offer. He writes with poetic passion but also with an eye toward the practical as every chapter ends with suggested, field-tested actions. The book is designed so that church book groups can discuss one chapter a week from Earth Sunday (April 19th) to Pentecost (May 31st). With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, the book provides the perfect opportunity to inform and inspire church members to act. (More.)
For several years, I have viewed environmental organizations as spiritual communities, whose spiritual practice is environmental activity and/or Earthcare. I have listened to webinar presenters from environmental groups, and I have found deep faith commitments comparable to my own which were nurtured in a hybrid Buddhist Christian spirituality. When I have suggested to interfaith groups that we might include environmental activists at the table, they have rejected such proposals. What I propose here is an inclusive shift in our thinking about spirituality in striving for a new ecumenism. (More.)
One of the most significant environmental justice stories of this past year is that of ethylene oxide, a carcinogen that is emitted in the making of antifreeze and the sterilization of medical equipment. The EPA considered banning the use of the chemical back in 2005, and all these many years later the EPA is still under pressure for its failure to act. Indeed, a bipartisan group of lawmakers formed a congressional task force last month to urge the updating of protections because they had become frustrated with the EPA. As people of faith, in this moment we are compelled to ask, “What does it mean to truly love our neighbor? What would it look like for a government to put the health of its people first?” (More.)
After much anticipation, the Downton Abbey movie has arrived. For six seasons, beginning in 2011, millions of us unplugged the phones, pulled down the shades, and dimmed the lights on Sunday evenings to join an estimated 13.3 million other fans following the fortunes of the Crawley family, their servants, and their home. We hoped for Robert, the Earl of Grantham, as he struggled to manage a vast estate. We admired Cora, his American heiress wife, who brought the money to the marriage and brought up three daughters with wisdom and charm. We cheered when Mary, one of those daughters, and Matthew, her working-class cousin, finally got married, and we mourned at Matthew's premature death. (More.)
A Kairos moment may be pregnant with possibilities or stillborn with paralysis. Christians use the word Kairos to explain the pause between the crumbling of one social order and the rebirthing of a new society. Transformation is not guaranteed. Radical change requires that large groups of people simultaneously breathe into multiple institutions to birth a new social order. (More.)
After a couple of recent conversations with friends who confided that they were suffering from burnout, I found myself asking a number of questions: What exactly are we referring to when we say we feel “burnt out?” What are the causes? Why does burnout seem so prevalent these days? Could burnout for some people be connected to the psychological toll of the climate crisis? And, finally, what is to be done about burnout? (More.)
When it comes to caring for God’s creation with regard to our nation’s wooded lands, there is often a disconnect between rural and urban areas. As a pastor who has been serving small rural congregations in the United Church of Christ since the 1970s, let me explain how I came to this perspective. I currently serve three congregations that stretch along the Canadian border in Northern Minnesota by the Rainy River between Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods. Along with fishing tourism, the timber industry is an important part of our economy along with some paper or packaging businesses. (More.)
Dear Friends and Churches,
I am pastor of East Weymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ. I would very much appreciate your prayers, support, and/or action. Our town of Weymouth, Massachusetts, and the larger South Shore region have been fighting a David v. Goliath battle for five years. The 3rd largest and wealthiest international gas company, Enbridge, is forcing a deadly gas compressor on us despite vehement bipartisan opposition from residents, 3 mayors, 6 city councils, 29 State Senate Senators, all 14 legislators of the South Shore, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Senator Warren, Senator Markey, Representative Stephen Lynch, emergency planning councils, public health researchers, climate scientists, and all major environmental groups of Massachusetts. The state senators in opposition stated that the application was fraught with "errors, inaccuracies, and obstructions," especially for a site that suffers from the environmental and public health burdens of heavy industry already. The compressor would “pose a threat to the Commonwealth as a whole." (More.)
Prophets provoke a reckoning, a moment of truth that cannot be denied. The illusion of righteousness is dispelled. The mask of insincerity is ripped away. The rhetoric of duplicity is forced to light. The time has come when the mirror is held aloft, and we must look to see our true reflection without lie or deception. The old magic of obfuscation and distraction holds sway no more. The complacency of careful calculations remains tenable no longer. (More.)