Tag Archives: congregations

Retreat in S. Carolina – November 2019

Communion with Creation at the beautiful Atlantic coastline with other stewards of God’s good creation.

Be empowered for creation care ministry at your home, congregation, school, or synod. Learn more about how to integrate concern for the planet with the moral calling to be good to our global neighbors (global/local, human/non), practice real strategies to engage in controversial issues, hear about local sea turtle conservation work, and spend time in a beautiful setting with plenty of time to reflect and rest.

The retreat will take place at the Coastal Retreat Center   

2101 Palm Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC, located near historic Charleston.

Download Bulletin Insert/Flier & Share Please!

Registration Closed

SCHOLARSHIPS OFFERED ARE THANKS TO:

The Stewardship of Life Institute. 

The retreat is sponsored by Lutherans Restoring Creation and is open to different faith traditions.

QUESTIONS?

The Rev. Kris Litman-Koon:

Phone: (843) 884-5470 Email: Pastor.KLK at gmail dot com 

 

Youth Gather and We All Grow!

Back in the summer of 2018 hundreds of youth and group leaders visited our Lutherans Restoring Creation space in the Interactive Educational Area during the National Youth Gathering in Houston.

Every visitor was asked to spend about 5 minutes walking through a “tour” of their typical day and consider how their daily decisions impacted their global neighbors. 

Thank you Notes to GOD – for all the gifts given to us that we don’t have to pay for.

We don’t have to let it end there though!  Get your youth group (or adult forum, or bible study, or family…) to read through the tour with pledge form in hand (or on screen) and find solutions in a prayerful way of living.  If you use our online form we can stay on touch with you and let your synod leadership know what you’re aiming for.

Click here to download the “walk through” program – share it as a power point or print it out to pass around. Pledge form in pdf form can be downloaded here (let us know how it goes!) 

The two most requested tools for Youth Groups to use as follow up to this discussion starter:

Story of Stuff 20 minute video. (Ask your group what challenges they have with their “golden arrow.”)

Know No Trash Program

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Sacrament of the Altar

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.

Where is this written?

The holy evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and St. Paul write thus:

“In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me. Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sins. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

Think! One of the last things Jesus did, before being arrested in a garden and condemned to death, was to share a meal. In various stories, one of the first things Jesus did, after rising from the dead in a garden, was to share meals. What does it mean that Jesus shares this meal with you? How do you feel about Jesus being present in something so common as a bit of bread, of God embodied in the earthly elements of our world?

Act! Visit ELCA World Hunger resources webpage for a toolkit on “Hunger and Climate Change Connections” that has activities and resources for a guided conversation on what climate change means for world hunger. Find this and other ways you can help the ELCA share food and address changing resources by searching www.ELCA.org for “hunger and climate.”

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

The words “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” show us that forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation are given to us in the sacrament through these words, because where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

Eating and drinking certainly do not do it, but the words that are recorded: “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.” These words, when accompanied by the physical eating and drinking, are the essential thing in the sacrament, and whoever believes these very words has what they declare and state, namely, “forgiveness of sin.”

Think! In regular daily meals, God is present to sustain your life. In communion with so much of creation, with the willingness of sunshine and miracle of photosynthesis, of farmers and pollinators and yeast, by soil and in a vessel God’s salvation is again made present for you. How does their part in bringing you the sacrament bring you to care for them?

Act! The physical eating and drinking is clearly a worthwhile and necessary part of God’s blessing and work. Choose ingredients and bake bread for communion. Visit a winery. “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)

Who, then, receives this sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sin,” is really worthy and well prepared. However, a person who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, because the words “for you” require truly believing hearts.

Think! In this way of looking at the Small Catechism, or in your life generally, what have been actions and behaviors that have been very important for you in saving the earth? How do you feel about the statement that individual actions are “significant but not sufficient” for the problem at hand? What more needs to be done that you cannot do alone?

Act! Always give thanks to God for this abiding grace in Christ, continuing to give to you and everything else. As Psalm 145:15-16 says, “The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living creature.” With this in mind, say a prayer before each meal. Luther suggests, “Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these your gifts, which we receive from your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Sacrament of Baptism

I. What is Baptism?

Baptism is not simply plain water. Instead, it is water used according to God’s command and connected with God’s Word.

What then is this word of God? Where our Lord Christ says in Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Think! What a great blessing clean “simply plain water” is! God could have chosen any way to act, but makes this promise to you with amazing, abundant water. How would your view of baptism change if the water were polluted and dirty or if there were no water available? How does God’s word with the water remind you of God’s work in the world?

Act! Touch the water in your baptismal font. Make the sign of the cross on yourself and others. If there is no water in the font, ask your pastor if you can add some. And then touch and enjoy its cleanness—God works in things like this!

II. What gifts or benefits does baptism grant?

It brings about forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it, as the words and promises of God declare.

What are these words and promises of God? Where our Lord Christ says in Mark 16: “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

Think! Christians have unfortunately been apt to think of baptism as an insurance policy in case of accidental death. Why, from an ecological perspective especially, might God want to save you for your life now for the sake of this world?

Act! Think of saints you’ve known and celebrate what others have accomplished in their lives. Visit a cemetery or memorial garden and note how it continues to be a place of life. Use it as an occasion to remember that our actions today affect generations yet to come.

III. How can water do such great things?

Clearly the water does not do it, but the word of God, which is with and alongside the water, and faith, which trusts this word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is plain water and not a baptism, but with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a grace-filled water of life and a “bath of the new birth in the Holy Spirit,” as St. Paul says to Titus in chapter 3, “through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure.”

Think! Because we know of this special bath, we can also see God’s grace working through the “plain waters.” What are some of the “great things” plain water does in our world?

Act! We often overlook the value of water. Water Footprints, like the more common Carbon Footprints, are a new way to be attentive to our use and impact on water supplies. Give it a try at http://www.waterfootprint.org/ Visit http://www.elca.org/hunger/water for church resources.

IV. What then is the significance of such a baptism with water?

It signifies that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written? St. Paul says in Romans 6, “We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we to might walk in newness of life.”

Think! Again, not waiting for afterlife, here is a daily hope that you may live rightly in God’s world. What are five things you can do for the world today because you have the benefit and grace of life?

Act! Obviously God’s Word is strongest, but notice how this cleansing and purifying of baptism is done with water. Take this opportunity to see what harmful cleaning chemicals you could replace with something better.

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven.

What is this? With these words God wants to attract us, so that we come to believe that he is truly our Father and we are truly his children, in order that we may ask him boldly and with complete confidence, as loving children ask their loving father.

Think! Calling God a Father “in heaven” was to clarify we weren’t talking to a birth parent. It is not trying to say God is “in some heaven light years away.” How is God even more nurturing and trustworthy like a loving parent if God is “Here in this Place” (ELW Hymn #532), still walking amid the garden (Genesis 3:8)?

Act! Since our minds are on the heavens with this prayer, don’t let it get too ethereal! Go outside and notice the clouds or the stars. Feel the sunlight. Watch the phase of the moon. Pause in this prayer to look up from life’s busy paths.

Hallowed be your name.

What is this? It is true that God’s name is holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that it may also become holy in and among us.

How does this come about? Whenever the word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as God’s children, also live holy lives according to it. To this end help us, dear Father in heaven! However, whoever teaches and lives otherwise than the Word of God teaches, dishonors the name of God among us. Preserve us from this, heavenly Father!

Think! Asking that God make us holy, we often think about it as more pious, more focused on the supernatural. How do you think God would define holy living amid creation? (You might see the prophets for help—Isaiah 5:8, 11:6-9, 24:3-6; Hosea 2:18-19, 4:3; Amos 5:8-12; Micah 4:4, 6:8)

Act! Adopt a new way of holy living by finding at least one new way to be mindful about conserving resources: Shut off lights. Recycle. Use less water. Pay attention to your actions as a spiritual discipline.

Your kingdom come.

What is this? In fact, God’s kingdom comes on its own without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come to us.

How does this come about? Whenever our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that through the Holy Spirit’s grace we believe God’s holy word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.

Think! Notice again that the kingdom is not equated to heaven, but comes in how we live here and now. Read Mark 4:30-32, where Jesus compares God’s kingdom to a mustard shrub in which we all rest. Where do you experience the nesting comfort of God’s promise?

Act! Since the parable talks of birds and plants, find and identify one around you. Know this amazing diversity of who your nest-mates are.

Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

What is this? In fact, God’s good and gracious will come about without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come about in and among us.

How does this come about? Whenever God breaks and hinders every evil scheme and will—as are present in the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh—that would not allow us to hallow God’s name and would prevent the coming of his kingdom, and instead whenever God strengthens us and keeps us steadfast in his word and in faith until the end of our lives. This is God’s good and gracious will.

Think! The prayer continues reinforcing that this is a matter for this life—for this earth! If flowers bloom to the glory of God, gurgling rapids sing God’s praises, and even rocks do what they’re supposed to do, how can you listen for God’s will for you to love all your creaturely neighbors on earth?

Act! Luther says God breaks us from the world, here not meaning the natural world but the things that get in the way of focusing on what God wants. Make a list of at least 5 ways your actions or lifestyle get in the way of God’s good for the natural world. Then list at least 5 things of this world you’d like to pay better attention to. Finally, list at least 5 things to change for the culture of your church, community, or country.

Give us this day our daily bread.

What is this? In fact, God gives daily bread without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we ask in this prayer that God cause us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive it with thanksgiving.

What then does “daily bread” mean? Everything included in the necessity and nourishment for our bodies, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Think! Luther here already admits the ecological expanse of our daily sustenance. Where did your last meal come from and what did it take to produce it? How much can you trace about the full origins of your food?

Act! Go one day per week without eating meat. If all Americans did it, it would be the same as taking one of every eight (8 million) cars off the road! Help spread what our resources can sustain.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

What is this? We ask in this prayer that our heavenly Father would not regard our sins nor deny these petitions on their account, for we are worthy of nothing for which we ask, nor have we earned it. Instead we ask that God would give us all things by grace, for we daily sin much and indeed deserve only punishment. So, on the other hand, we, too, truly want to forgive heartily and to do good gladly to those who sin against us.

Think! How do we balance pardoning and holding accountable environmental sins? Will seals forgive us our oil spills? Will ancient redwoods and Amazon rainforests forgive air pollution and deforestation? Will stream life and coral reefs forgive us for mountain top removal and burning coal? Will people of island nations forgive us for the flooding of their homes?

Act! As atonement for our corporate sins, plant a tree, ride a bike or find another way to atone for and mitigate the destruction humans cause. And know that God is eagerly helping you!

Save us from the time of trial. (Lead us not into temptation.)

What is this? It is true that God tempts no one, but we ask in this prayer that God would preserve and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins, and that, although we may be attacked by them, we may finally prevail and gain the victory.

Think! An average child watches 20,000 commercials on TV each year. This corporate consumer myth of brand identity and purchasing ease and inexpensive happiness is much of what got us into our current ecological crisis. How can you help a child to enjoy life in a natural state?

Act! Don’t forget to get outside yourself! Shut off the TV or computer at some point this week and go for a walk, or sit and enjoy.

And deliver us from evil. (For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.)

What is this? We ask in this prayer, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven may deliver us from all kinds of evil—affecting body or soul, property or reputation—and at last, when our final hour comes, may grant us a blessed end and take us by grace from this valley of tears to himself in heaven.

Think! In Luther’s summary, this perhaps also points to the close of the prayer—and the start—that we are in God’s care forever and ever. Even in this time of trial where we may fear irreversible harm, God is with us. “Yes, it is going to come about just like this!” How does God’s ongoing work for good in this world empower you and give you hope?

Act! Pray for God’s work to save the whole earth. And pray that you also will love what God loves and save what God saves. Yes it shall be so!

 

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Creed

The 1st Article, on Creation

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

What is this? I believe that God has created me together with all that exists. God has given me and still preserves my body and soul: eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses; reason and all mental faculties. In addition, God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property—along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life. God protects me against all danger and shields and preserves me from all evil. And all this is done out of pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all! For all this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey him. This is most certainly true.

Think! In the Creed, Luther frames his thoughts as “me” so that I can know how good God is in my life. We can easily also hear that promise for all of creation. Read Job 38-41, where God the Father speaks of delighting in all of God’s children—including those of no use to humans or even seen by humans as dangerous. What are ways God the Father might be working to “preserve” and “protect” other creatures in this world?

Act! Listen as rivers clap their hands (Psalm 98:8) and trees sing for joy (1 Chronicles 16:33) at God’s goodness and steadfast love! Sing with St. Francis in his Canticle of the Sun (ELW Hymn #835, LBW #527), joining with all our sisters and brothers in praise of God.

The 2nd Article, on Redemption

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father; and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

What is this? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also a true human, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally. This is most certainly true.

Think! Read Romans 8:18-23. What are ways around us where you think the whole creation has been groaning until now because of our sin, waiting for us to live righteously?

Act! Next time in worship at Confession and Forgiveness, confess your complicity in humanity’s greatest sin of catastrophic planet-wide destruction. Then hear the word of forgiveness in Jesus’ name as your vocational call to go and live rightly amid creation, serving Christ by loving others.

The 3rd Article, on Sanctification

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

What is this? I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.

Think! Read Genesis 1:1-5. The Spirit that moved over the waters is the Spirit who breathes new life into you, making you a new creation. What can you celebrate as resurrection moments in your life and in this world? When has the Spirit enlivened you, inspired you or those around you to live in new ways amid creation?

Act! Watch the wind blow waves across a lake or find some water to blow on with your own breath. This is the source of life, and God says it is good!

 

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Ten Commandments

The 1st Commandment: You shall have no other gods.

What is this? We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.

Think! Read Matthew 5:45. Jesus makes a promise of sun and rain, that this is always around us—good or bad, human or not. How does this promise of needs of life help you love and trust God? What leads you away from the promise, leading you to place trust in other things?

Act! Give thanks for 100 things you encounter in creation today as a way to remember that God is source of everything, working forever to bless us all with what we need to live.

The 2nd Commandment: You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.

Think! 2 billion people (1/3 of the planet) are Christian. What a huge difference our prayers could make in this place! Still, we often think “heaven is my home,” as if we don’t have a part of this world. How does that view take God’s name in vain for this life?

Act! Say a prayer, calling on God presence to be with you today. Ask this same thing for five kinds of other creatures around you.

The 3rd Commandment: Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s Word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.

Think! Read Leviticus 25:1-12. Not only humans need sabbath. Why does God want soils also to rest and “all inhabitants” of a place to have the chance to return?

Act! Learn about or visit a place that has been used and had a chance to rest – a vacant lot, a Superfund site (http://www.epa.gov/superfund) or Conservation Reserve Program farmland (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CRP/)

The 4th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.

Think! It doesn’t just take two parents, or even a village. Our lives are birthed and nurtured by this whole world. How would we treat Earth differently if we really honored her as our Mother?

Act! Water a plant, bow to the soil, or delight in a weather forecast today. Serve, love, and respect the planet!

The 5th Commandment: You shall not murder.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all life’s needs.

Think! Climate change is already causing what has been called the Sixth Great Extinction, greater than what killed the dinosaurs. Why might our destruction of biodiversity—of God’s great variety of creatures, from polar bears and coral reefs to dwarf crocodiles and others we haven’t even discovered—why might that be of concern?

Act! The impacts of burning fossil fuels are also hurting our poorest human neighbors worst. Go to http://www.lwr.org and search “climate” for stories of how Lutheran World Relief is working to help communities around the world mitigate and adapt amid changing weather patterns.

The 6th Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in words and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.

Think! From the last commandment about not harming a creature, this extends to not harming its closest relationships. We could think of it as a ripple effect through the ecosystem. Many orchids, for example, evolved to be pollinated by a single species of insect or bird. How might our world be different without bees to enable plants to reproduce?

Act! Author Michael Pollan says humans have historically eaten 80,000 species but today products of four (corn, soybeans, wheat, rice) amount to 2/3 of our calories. Spread the love—and the genes! Buy food or plant a garden with something you wouldn’t normally—especially an heirloom variety.

The 7th Commandment: You shall not steal.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.

Think! If all 7.3 billion people of the planet consumed like Americans, we would need the resources of more than four planets to sustain us. Using or abusing in this way, how are we stealing the planet’s resources—and from whom?

Act! Do an online search for “environmental refugees” and learn about how climate change will cause millions of people to be without food, water, or homes.

The 8th Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.

Think! In a harsh climate, it can be hard to speak kindly, with self-righteous tree-huggers versus global warming deniers. What way today can you gently but firmly encourage care for creation?

Act! Become a defender of wildlife and an advocate for justice. Lobby your government officials to speak out against threats and speak up on behalf of creation, from children to polar bears to clean air. Or contact the media and ask that climate change be presented not with skeptics’ perspectives but according to the overwhelming scientific consensus.

The 9th Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors our of their inheritance or property or try to get it for ourselves by claiming to have a legal right to it and the like, but instead be of help and be of service to them in keeping what is theirs.

Think! This one we could take pretty directly. According to the US Census, the average house was 1660 square feet in 1973 and 2519 square feet in 2008, more than 50% bigger. Why have we become accustomed to feeling we need so much and aren’t satisfied without more?

Act! Find ways to make your home simpler and less cluttered. Give something you don’t need to a secondhand store or put it on Craig’s List. Make your home better with an energy audit or Energy Star appliances and Water Sense products when needed.

The 10th Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not entice, force, or steal away from our neighbors their spouses, household workers, or livestock, but instead urge them to stay and fulfill their responsibilities to our neighbors.

Think! Let’s think of habitats others need to survive: For most of 4 billion years, other creatures didn’t need to compete with us wanting what they’ve got. Now, whether urban sprawl or using resources, we are changing habitats in our world. Agricultural land is drifting toward higher latitudes because of warming. Desertification affects over 2 billion people. A swath of plastics twice the side of Texas floats in the North Pacific Gyre. What is the problem with treating this whole planet as if it is here only for us?

Act! Fight deforestation by using shade-grown coffees (and eco-palms!). Look for the Forest Stewardship Council label for sustainably harvested papers (www.fscus.org/). Plant trees from the Arbor Day Foundation (www.arborday.org/).

What then does God say about all these commandments?

God says the following: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those that reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

What is this? God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore we are to fear his wrath and not disobey these commandments. However, God promises grace and every good thing to all those who keep these commandments. Therefore we are also to love and trust him and gladly act according to his command.

Think! Even if we stopped adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and oceans immediately, today’s CO2 would still be affecting the climate for a hundred years. How does it feel that God would leave us to suffer at least that long, and perhaps irreparably, the devastating consequences of our actions?

Act! Find a way to talk to somebody about how relevant (or how unimportant) you feel your behavior amid creation is for your faith.

 

 

Checklist for Energy Savings Room by Room

Overall Home Energy Saving Measures

Efficiency

  • Heat/ AC: Install high efficiency ENERGY STAR-rated furnace and air conditioner, at least at level of 94% efficiency. Place furnace where it can provide the greatest distribution of forced air flow throughout the house.
  • Heat/AC: Have duct settings adjusted for maximum spread/flow of heat and cool air throughout the house.
  • Heat/AC: Install ceiling fans to bring heat to floor levels in winter and to circulate cool air in summer.
  • Heat/AC: Seal heat ducts to prevent leaking hot air into basement.
  • Heat/AC: Shut off rooms not in use. Use magnetic mats to cover heat vents in closed off room.
  • Windows: install high efficiency energy star double-or triple-paned windows and storm windows. Close/lock tightly and seal in winter. Seal window sash at top and bottom with self-adhesive foam.
  • Windows: Use honeycomb shades with double or triple cell construction. Put up drapes with thermal liners, measured to cover window frame.
  • Windows: Use window insulation kits (clear, easily removable caulk or plastic covers) for extra protection from cold.
  • Windows: On south side, open curtains and lower shades for sun to heat in winter. Shift from east to west from morning to night. Open windows for outside air to cool in summer.
  • Insulation: Request of energy company or hire energy expert to do complete evaluation (incentives from government and energy company on the changes you make will pay for the expert advice). EE will do blower test to identify leaks, use “X-ray” to find places in walls that are not insulated, and find nooks and crannies throughout the house where air is escaping or entering.
  • Insulation: The biggest benefit comes from installing heavy insulation in attic, including under attic floors.
  • Insulation: Insulate electrical outlets on outside walls. Install small pads that go inside outlet covers.
  • Insulation: Insulate and weather strip outside doors, including a door to the garage. Paint and seal wood doors to the outside, or put on insulation.
  • Insulation: Put door sweeps (or snakes) at bottom of outside doors or doors to rooms that have been shut off from heat. Make sure doors close tightly.
  • Lights: install CFLs or LEDs in every outlet and lamp. Where needed retrofit for the most efficient fluorescent tubes.
  • Lights: Install motion sensors for rooms where lights are used often and prone to be left on.
  • Water: Put aerators on all sink faucets throughout the house. Install low-flow shower heads.
  • Water: Check regularly for leaks in all faucets (inside and out), toilets, and pipes throughout the house. Repair leaks immediately.

Conservation:

  • Heat/ AC: Have furnace/ air conditioner tuned and serviced once a year.
  • Furnace: Change furnace filters each month or every three months, depending on the longevity of the filter.
  • Heat/AC: make sure forced-air vents are unobstructed. Make sure air return vents are unobstructed.
  • Heat/AC: Have air ducts cleaned every ten years.
  • Heat: Seal heat ducts to prevent leaking hot air.
  • Heat/AC: Clear and clean cold air returns and registers.
  • Thermostat: Set 24/7 thermostat. Lower heat at night and when absent. Wear warm clothes rather than high heat.  Turn heat down in winter for the night. Set automatic thermostat in house for 60 to begin one-half hour before bed and to end one-half hour before rising.
  • Heat: Turn down heat when away from the house.
  • Lights: Turn off lights in rooms not in use. Use minimal light when in use.
  • Lights: Position lamps/ furniture for optimum lighting.
  • Lights: Open thermal curtains and shades for sun to provide natural heat in winter. Use outside air to cool in summer. Block windows from sun to preserve inside cool in summer.
  • Windows: On south side, open curtains and lower shades for sun to heat in winter. Shift from east to west from morning to night. Open windows for outside air to cool in summer.
  • Lights: Depend on outside natural light. Turn off lights/ overhead fan when not in use. Turn off oven fan and light when not in use.
  • Heat: Turn down heat when away from the house.
  • Insulation: Fill openings into the basement from water spigots, gas lines, electric service outlets, cable TV, and data lines.
  • Heat: Seal heat ducts to prevent leaking hot air.
  • Heat/AC: Clear and clean cold air returns and registers.
  •  Lights: When away from house for days, put lamp on timer to come on at night.

KITCHEN

Efficiency

  • Appliances: (Energy Star): Replace appliances after ten years or sooner. Purchase top to bottom refrigerator. Side by side refrigerator-freezer uses 7-13% more energy than when freezer is at top or bottom.  Do not position refrigerator near heat. Leave two inches on either side of refrigerator.
  • Refrigerator/ Freezer: Set at medium for refrigerator (37-40 degrees F) and freezer (0 to 5 degrees F). A freezer that is filled with food is more efficient.
  • Dish washing: Get ENERGY STAR high efficiency. Use dishwasher rather than hand washing. Run on energy saving/shorter cycle. Turn off “heat drying.” Clean filter; open door to air dry.
  • Compost food: Avoid use of disposal. If you use disposal, run cold water. Compost food scraps.
  • Water: Install aerator on faucets. Fix leaks immediately.
  • Water: Use effective sink stoppers.
  • Cooking: Use microwave or toaster oven for less energy. Use pressure cookers and crock pots.
  • Stove: use lids to heat. Clean burner bowls to retain heat. Use burners smaller than the pan. Have oven on only when pre-heating or in use. Make sure gaskets on oven door seal properly. Don’t open oven when cooking.
  • Small appliances: Avoid unnecessary electric appliances such as electric peelers, can openers, or carving knives. Unplug unused refrigerators and freezers.
  • Clock. Avoid electric clock. Use clock with recycled batteries. Use solar clock.
  • Pantry: Turn off light in pantry or put on motion sensor.

Conservation:

  • Refrigerator: Make sure the rubber gaskets on the doors seal fully (clean or replace).
  • Refrigerator: Clean coils, under refrigerator, behind front panel, evaporator pan, and motor every six months. Use “feet” to make refrigerator level front to back and side to side.
  • Refrigerator: Do not leave refrigerator or freezer door open when doing tasks.
  • Water: Do not let the water run unnecessarily. Use cold water for most tasks. Post reminders.
  • Cooking: Use microwave rather than oven. Use smaller appliances. Save energy with slow cookers (crock pot).
  • Cooking: Lower the heat after boiling. Use lids. Do not check food in oven. Seal oven door.
  • Lights: Depend on outside natural light. Turn off lights/ overhead fan when not in use. Turn off oven fan and light when not in use.
  • Dish washing: Scrape but do not rinse dishes before putting them in the dish washer. If you scrape, use cold water. Do dishwasher only when it is full. Run on energy saving cycle. Turn off heated drying.
  • Cooking: Use microwave or toaster oven for less energy. Use pressure cookers and crock pots.
  • Stove: use lids to heat. Clean burner bowls to retain heat. Use burners smaller than the pan. Have oven on only when pre-heating or in use. Make sure gaskets on oven door seal properly. Don’t peak in oven.
  • Compost: Avoid disposals by composting all food. If you use the disposal, use cold water.
  • Appliances: Unplug unused refrigerators and freezers.
  • Electricity: Turn off at the source toasters, coffee pots, and microwaves when not in use.
  • Avoid paper: Re-use cloth napkins by designating a napkin for each person with napkin holder. Use cloth towels rather than paper towels.
  • Re-use: Re-use personal drinking glasses during the day.
  • Re-use: Avoid disposable paper or plastic plates, cups, utensils, containers.
  • Electricity: Use smart plug to turn off microwave when not in use (phantom electricity)
  • Electricity: Use smart strip to turn off radios and TVs when not in use.

Efficiency

  • Heat/air: make sure forced-air vents are unobstructed.
  • Heat/air: install high efficiency windows and storm windows. Close tightly and seal in winter. Install insulating shades. Put up thermal curtains.
  • Heat/air: Install ceiling fan for heat in winter and cooling in summer.
  • Lights: Use CFLs or LEDs in overhead, lamps, closet. Install motion sensors for overhead lights and closet.
  • Lights: When away from house for days, put lamp on timer to come on at night only.
  • Electricity: Use smart strip to turn off TV and DVD automatically at the source when not in use (phantom electricity).

Conservation

  • Lights: Open thermal curtains and shades for sun to heat in winter. Use outside air to cool in summer.
  • Lights: Place furniture to optimize natural lighting. Position lamps for maximum effect.
  • Lights: turn off when not in use. Use only the lights/lamps needed. Use small LED night lights.
  • Heat: Turn heat down in winter for the night. Set automatic thermostat in house for 60 to begin one-half hour before bed and to end one-half hour before rising, health permitting. Add clothing and bedding for warmth.
  • Heat: Turn down heat when away from the house.
  • Electricity: Turn off TV and radio when not in use. Use smart strip.
  • Clock: Use renewable battery-driven wall or table clock.

BEDROOM

Efficiency

  • Heat/air: make sure forced-air vents are unobstructed. Check need for insulation in walls and ceiling.
  • Heat/air: install high efficiency windows and storm windows. Close tightly and seal in winter. Install insulating shades. Put up thermal curtains.
  • Lights: Install motion sensors overhead lights. Use CFLs or LEDs in overhead and lamps.
  • Lights: Use natural light during the day. Use small LED night light for nighttime.
  • Electricity: Turn off TV and radio when not in use. Use smart strip to turn off TV, DVD, and radio automatically at the source when not in use (phantom electricity).

Conservation

  • Lights: Open thermal curtains and shades for sun to heat in winter. Use outside air to cool in summer.
  • Lights: turn off when not in use. Use only the lights/lamp needed. Use LED night lights.
  • Heat: Turn heat down in winter for the night. Set automatic thermostat in house for 60 to begin one-half hour before bed and to end one-half hour before rising. Use clothing and extra bedding for warmth.
  • Energy: Turn off TVs and radios when not in use.
  • Energy: Use alarm clock powered by renewable battery.

BATHROOM

Efficiency:

  • Heat/air: Make sure heat vents are unobstructed.
  • Heat/air: Attend to windows (see above)
  • Lights: Use CFLs or LEDs. Install motion sensors on lights. If you have multiple lights over sink, use only what is needed.
  • Lights: Use natural light during the day. Use small LED night light for nighttime.
  • Water: Use aerators on sink faucets. Use low-flow shower heads. Repair leaks immediately.
  • Water: Use low water toilets. Or deposit tank balloon or brick to displace water. Flush less often. Repair running toilets immediately. Advanced: self-composting toilet.
  • Paper: Use post-consumer waste toilet paper.

Conservation:

  • Water: Do not run water while brushing teeth, shaving, scrubbing hands, combing hair, etc. Post reminders. Use cold water for washing hands, shaving, etc.
  • Water: Take a shower rather than a bath. Take fewer showers. Get a “shower coach” (small plastic hour-glass to be put in shower area with suction cup) and limit your showers to five minutes.
  • Water: flush less often.
  • Water: Fill bucket with cold water when getting a hot shower and use it for watering plants.
  • Lights: Turn off lights when not in use, even motion sensor lights. Post reminders.
  • Electricity: Turn off curling irons, electric tooth brushes, and other electric devices when not in use.
  • Laundry: Designate personal towels and wash cloths for re-use to limit need for unnecessary laundry. Avoid plush towels so as to provide more space in washing machine.

LAUNDRY ROOM

Efficiency

  • Appliances: Purchase high efficiency energy star washers and dryers. Front load washers use half the energy and water as top loading washers.
  • Lights: Use CFLs or LEDs. Turn off when not in use—between loads. Install motion sensors lights.
  • Heat/air: make sure air vents are unobstructed.
  • Heat/air: install high efficiency windows and storm windows. Close tightly and seal in winter. Put up thermal curtains. Open for sun to heat in winter. Use outside air to cool in summer.

Conservation

  • Washer and Dryer: Run washer and dryer only on full loads.
  • Washer and Dryer: Adjust water level and cycle length to maximize savings. Wash clothes in warm or cold. Rinse in cold.
  • Washer and Dryer Pre-soak only the dirtiest clothes.
  • Washer and Dryer Dry clothes on lines in basement or outside.
  • Washer and Dryer Do not over-dry clothes. Clean the dryer lint filter after each load.
  • Washer and Dryer Clean dryer exhaust duct and outside vents.
  • Washer and Dryer Grab and fold/hang from dryer to avoid the need for ironing.
  • Washer and Dryer Run appliances at night.

ATTIC

  • Lights: Use CFLs or LEDs. Turn off when not in use. Install motion sensor lights.
  • Insulation: Put extensive insulation between floor joists and under floor. Seal floor spaces. R-50 at least.
  • Insulation: Locate hidden spaces around attic edges and insulate well. Insulate stairway to attic.
  • Insulation: If heating ducts or return air ducts go through attic, cover them with insulation.
  • Insulation: Put insulation on inside of attic door and put seals around the door.
  • Air flow: Provide adequate airflow to avoid heat settling on floor of attic in summer.
  • Air flow: Install solar fan on roof for air movement in attic.

BASEMENT

  • Lights: Use CFLs or LEDs. Install motion sensors for some rooms. Turn off when not in use.
  • Heat/AC: Get high efficiency Energy Star furnace/ air conditioner. Have furnace serviced each year. Change filters regularly.
  • Heat: Seal heat ducts to prevent leaking hot air into basement area.
  • Insulation: Weather strip, insulate, and cover small basement windows often overlooked. Install glass block windows.
  • Insulation: Insulate portion of outside walls above the foundation.
  • Insulation: Insulate on ceiling above crawl spaces.
  • Insulation: Insulate basement ceiling if cold, especially along cracks and separations.
  • Insulation Insulate along the rim joists where the foundation meets the walls. R-19.
  • Insulation Insulate hot water pipes.
  • Insulation Fill openings into the basement around water spigots, gas lines, electric service outlets, cable TV, and internet lines.
  • Insulation Seal basement for winter and use air vents in glass-block windows for summer to avoid high humidity.
  • Water: Put aerators on sink faucets. Repair leaks immediately.
  • Water: Use low water toilets. If not a low water-use toilet, deposit tank balloon or brick to displace water. Repair running toilets immediately. Advanced: self-composting toilet.
  • Water heater: Set temperature at 120. Drain overflow occasionally. Put a blanket on water heater (3 inches).
  • Water heater: Advanced: Install on-demand water heater. Or install solar panel panels for energy to heat water.
  • Humidity appliances: Dehumidifier/ humidifier: If use dehumidifier is used in summer, set level and timer to save money. Purchase ENERGY STAR appliance. Same for humidifiers in winter.
  • Appliances: Avoid second refrigerator or freezer in basement.

OUTSIDE

Efficiency

  • Lights: Use CFLs or LEDs for porch lighting and area flood lights.
  • Lights: Put outside safety lights on motion sensor.
  • Lights: If needed regularly, put porch or area lights on timer.
  • Lights: Use solar garden lights.
  • Lights: Put in motion sensor garage lights.
  • Trees: Plant trees, shrubs, vines on trellises to provide protection from wind in winter and sun in summer. Evergreen trees on north and northwest sides of house.
  • Awnings: Put up awnings to cool the house in summer.
  • Insulation: Caulk around the outside dryer and furnace vents.
  • Mowing: Use hand mower or battery or electric mower. Or rotary mower. Keep clean (from grass caking) and serviced.
  • Leaves: Hand rake or sweep rather than leaf/ grass blower. Avoid electric trimmer and grass liner.
  • Snow: Shovel snow, when feasible, rather than snow blower.
  • Shade: Provide shade for air conditioning unit but with plenty of clear space around unit.

Conservation

  • Lights: Use only the lighting needed for use or safety.
  • Lights: Change setting of timed lighting by the season.
  • Lights: Clean outdoor light fixtures.
  • Lights: Put night window lamps on timers.
  • Garage: Limit use of automatic garage opener.

TRANSPORTATION

  • Car/ truck: Purchase electric or hybrid car or one with high fuel efficiency.
  • Alternate transportation: Walk. Ride a bicycle. Take a bus. Car pool. Avoid heavy traffic.
  • Car tip: Keep engine tuned, change regularly oil, replace air filter, have car serviced on schedule.
  • Car tip: Keep tires inflated at recommended levels.
  • Car tip: Avoid jack rabbit starts. Accelerate slowly.
  • Car tip: On highway, approximate 55 miles per hour where safe to do so.
  • Car tip: Avoid engine idling. Coast in gear. Anticipate so you do not need to come to full stop at traffic lights.
  • Car tip: Open windows to limit use of air conditioning. At 60 mph, use air conditioning, because open windows create drag.
  • Car tip: Avoid unnecessary heavy items in the trunk or car.
  • Car tip: Switch to eco-focused tires, which reduce rolling resistance.

 

 

Ecological Christianity through Luther’s Small Catechism

We marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with the occasion of Martin Luther writing his 95 Theses. For those of us living with the Reformation heritage, however, another of his writings has likely been more influential in shaping our identity: his Small Catechism of 1528. The occasion for this handbook was that Luther discovered the need to teach the basics of the faith after visiting the evangelical or protestant congregations a decade in to the Reformation.

This exercise takes Luther’s back-to-basics approach, and also sets it in a broader ecological perspective.  As a church that is “always reforming,” we know that the good news of God continues to encounter us in our life.  Just as the papacy and indulgences (the focus of the 95 Theses) are not our central concern, so we also attend to contemporary threats and current events, recognizing the need in our times for Eco-Reformation.

Here, each piece of Luther’s Small Catechism is followed by a learning question, then by a suggested participatory action.  You may use this personally, or print one section each week in your bulletin, or adapt it for confirmation classes.  This is only one way to try seeing the entirety of our faith as permeated with creation care.

The 10 Commandments

The Creed

The Lord’s Prayer

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

The Sacrament of the Altar

 

 

Sing Out! Celebrating with Creation: Songs in Support of Ongoing Earth-Care 

Sing Out! Songs written to known melodies, for use in association with the Eco-Reformation, the Season of Creation, or occasions for celebration with creation. Click here to download “Celebrating with Creation: Songs in Support of the Eco-Reformation in 2017 & Ongoing Earth-Care” by Norman C. Habel.  

St. Andrew’s Environmental Stewardship Team: Nine Years Old and Still Going Strong!

The Environmental Stewardship Team (EST) at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, MN (a congregation of some 6,000 people on a campus of three sizable buildings) was founded nine years ago.

Jim Malkowski, a retired naturalist who started a large nature/environmental center and served 21 years as CEO of two centers, is co-founder of the group and was its chairman until recently.  He reports on the work of EST:

“A few of our achievements over the years have been co-sponsoring a wind generator on a co-campus with a high school, converting our 3 buildings to all LED lighting, an annual week-end devoted to a church-wide environmental messaging (called “Caring for Creation Weekend” – “C4C Weekend”)  including exhibits, music, literature and a sermon.  

“We have met monthly for nine years, formulated on-going 3-Year Planning Projections integrated into the church’s 10-Year Plans, and recently applied a $10,000 grant into a comprehensive recycling/composting program.  We are now in our second year working toward solar energy for St. Andrews, conducting walk-through planning estimates from contractors.  So, it’s been an active nine years.

“While we have the basic support of pastors’ leadership, we have yet to achieve comprehensive support to declare our church as a “Green Congregation,” a goal we continue to calculatingly pursue, vis-a-vis the Lutherans Restoring Creation Manuals. As the church’s EST, we are on the verge of much more fully integrating our work into the full mainstream of this Church’s worship and outreach.  Truly, it is a “Lutherans Restoring Creation” movement.”

See the webpage for the St. Andrews Environmental Stewardship Team, and download the EST brochure here.

 

Edmonds Lutheran Church is Going Solar

Edmonds, WA – Edmonds Lutheran Church (ELC) installed a solar photovoltaic system to generate renewable energy for their facility in mid- February 2016.  

The system was in part donated by A&R Solar, who has been working with the church for more than a year to make this vision a reality.

“Donating a system is our way of saying ‘thanks’ and giving back to a community that supported us, while also raising awareness to the fact that solar works in western Washington,” says Dave Kozin of A&R Solar. 

Edmonds Lutheran was selected by the Solarize South County Community Coalition, a volunteer group of individuals who led the award selection process. The competitive application process took into account the suitability of the facility to generate solar electricity on site and to serve as a public educational tool.

Rev. Dr. Julie Josund, pastor at Edmonds Lutheran Church has had a vision of making ELC a more eco-friendly building for many years. “We believe the caring for God’s creation goes hand-in-hand with Christian faith. Having solar panels on our church actively visible is a perfect way to get the word out about renewable energy options to many people. We are thrilled to have this partnership with A&R Solar and look forward to a fruitful collaboration in sharing the benefits of solar energy to our friends and neighbors in Edmonds.”

Pastor Tim Oleson and Rev. Dr. Julie Josund,
pastors at Edmonds Lutheran Church

“Doing social good is baked into our DNA at A&R. We believe that solar energy can make the world abetter place in a very fundamental way. The problem is that current incentives make it hard for the people that would benefit from solar energy the most–those in need and the non-profits that support them–to adopt the technology. We’re committed to helping those organizations and those people gain access to solar energy by donating our time and a share of our profits to projects such as the one for the Edmond’s Lutheran Church and Annie’s Community Kitchen,” said Reeves Clippard, Co-Founder of A&R Solar.

Working their Beliefs into the Public Sphere 

On Earth Day 2016, a small group of people of faith visited Massachusetts’ Senator Ed Markey’s office in Boston to detail their hopes for the protection of a special part of the Atlantic ocean habitat. Months later, these advocates, and thousands of their peers, were grateful to hear that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area was declared the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area was declared a Marine National Monument by President Obama as part of the Antiquities Act
 
While some faith leaders had been in the activist role before, there were a couple young people initiated into the practice of public involvement for the first time. Lydia Holleck, an 8th grader from Harwich MA and, Thea Morad, an 8 year old from Braintree, MA were at the table, as people of faith, proclaiming the moral imperative to steward our oceans. 
 
Upon hearing the news of the President’s determination from her science teacher earlier this fall, Lydia was blessed with a feeling few citizens get to have in their lifetime. Read her story (and make one of your own). 
Over one million comments were submitted to the Dept of the Interior know what National Monuments in 2017 in support of keeping our national, natural treasures. Read more details about how people of all faiths have stressed our obligation to care for God’s good earth in this way and hear from our youth who have been working locally to defend it. Share an opinion piece with your local papers or online outlets. Read Pastor Jeff Conlon’s piece on the moral imperative of this action.

An Earth Day Action with Results:

*On June 28, 2017 there was a follow-up to this meeting with Sen. Elizabeth Warren – read here*
Working their Beliefs into the Public Sphere 

On Earth Day 2016, a small group of people of faith visited Massachusetts’ Senator Ed Markey’s office in Boston to detail their hopes for the protection of a special part of the Atlantic ocean habitat. Months later, these advocates, and thousands of their peers, were grateful to hear that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area was declared a Marine National Monument by President Obama as part of the Antiquities Act. While some faith leaders had been in the activist role before, there were a couple young people initiated into the practice of public involvement for the first time. Lydia Holleck, an 8th grader from Harwich MA and, Thea Morad, an 8 year old from Braintree, MA were at the table, as people of faith, proclaiming the moral imperative to steward our oceans. Upon hearing the news of the President’s determination from her science teacher earlier this fall, Lydia was blessed with a feeling few citizens get to have in their lifetime. Read her story below (and make one of your own!).

Below is the account of one 8th grader’s experience joining a small group of people of faith into the office of a U.S. Senator on Earth Day 2016. Thanks to Lydia Holleck for taking the time to write this and to Senator Ed. Markey’s (MA) office for the warm welcome and thoughtful conversation. 

From Lydia Holleck, Harwich MA:

I would like to tell you about an eye-opening experience that helped me learn that citizenship and the environment go together.

On Earth Day, April 22, 2016, I went to the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Boston to do environmental advocacy.  I was nervous at first about talking with important people.  My mom encouraged me to speak up and I did.  I talked about the 7th grade ELA MCAS test I had just taken a month before.  The first reading was about protecting sea grass, a habitat for endangered seahorses, and other small sea creatures in our oceans. I told the Senator’s staffer that we should protect our waters for endangered animals and their habitats.  She was very impressed that I had paid attention to that part of the state testing, and had remembered it. I noted that what I said at the beginning of the meeting were the first notes she wrote down.

I thought it was really cool that I was part of this small religious group that went, and even more so that I was one of only two kids. The other young girl that was there was only eight, and we understood most of what was being said. This was a really important part of my life for me. Most people I know don’t get to stand up for what they believe, and talk to Senator Markey’s staffers about it.

            I was really proud this fall when my grade eight Advanced Science teacher mentioned the exciting news that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument had been created. When I told Ms. Fleischer that I had been a part of this she also thought this was an influential experience, and also critical to leadership and citizenship. I learned that it is important to be a leader and a citizen by speaking up for what you believe, and by taking part as a role model for others.

 

 

Tool Kit on Climate Change Connections

Take yourself, your class, or your congregation on a journey that explores the intersections between climate change and hunger. These toolkits are designed to be a program-in-a-box or customizable segments of information and activities for use in many congregational or educational settings. [Read More Here]

 

 

National Preach-In on Climate Change: Sermon for Epiphany 5A

Sermon for Epiphany 5A, the Rev. Lisa E. Dahill, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Worship and Christian Spirituality, Trinity Lutheran Seminary
IPL Climate Preach-In, Trinity Lutheran Seminary
Epiphany 5A, February 12, 2014
Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 112:1-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Matthew 5:13-20

This week is the annual Preach-In on Climate Change sponsored across the country by Interfaith Power and Light.  This Preach-In urges pastors, priests, ministers, rabbis, faith leaders of all kinds to call attention to the ways climate change is destroying God’s creation already and threatening future life on Earth.  All across the U.S. preachers will be preaching this Friday, this Saturday, this Sunday. Here at Trinity we too are taking part, so I volunteered to preach.

I signed up to preach… about climate change.  Kind of a big topic.  Just a bit – overwhelming.

How big?  You know: the forms of the future of life on Earth at stake… millions of species going extinct… catastrophic storms and droughts killing the poorest already – and no idea how much hotter and more chaotic the climate will become just from the emissions we’ve already burned – let alone all the emissions we’re planning to keep on burning since even with all the disruptions so far and the warming and acidification of the oceans and the deforestation of jungles around the world and the rising seas and wilder storms and unpredictable growing seasons – even with all this already threatening the fragile hold the poorest humans on Earth have to life, we are apparently helpless to find a new way – helpless to stop the gas guzzling and the petroleum-based food systems, stop the fossil fuel extraction, stop the burning and the burning and the burning…  Why should we cut carbon emissions when China’s not going to?  Why should China cut emissions when we’re not going to?  Why should we mobilize to pull together in sacrificial action across national borders or even, heck, just across political boundaries within our national borders, and act already when, it’s just too big, too diffuse, too far off, the danger screened from our view… and we keep ourselves busy with other things.

So how on Earth do you preach about this?  How??  Dr. Langknecht – how am I to preach about this?  You senior preachers – how…??  It’s too big, too huge… there are no words.

There are no words because the ones who would say them – who are right now shouting for the world’s attention – will drown when the monster storms and rising seas finally wash over their Pacific Islands home, lowest-lying islands of the world

There are no words because what can we say?  God will fix this?  Science will save us?  The promise of magical salvation doesn’t convince the peasant farmers who rely on meltwater from the Kilimanjaro glaciers that will be gone soon.  Once their children too have starved, there will be no words.

There are no words because in the face of danger too big to address we hide… of course we do!  We shut down.  We shut up.  We preach about other things – needs we can address, not the ones that jolt us awake in fear for great-grandchildren who will never know a planet as beautiful and abundant and healthy as the one we were born on.  We can’t bear to hear the cries of those not yet born – there are no words.

Or, even worse – we do hear them, we do hear the science, but how can we act?  It’s not like we want the heating of our homes and the running of our seminary to addright this minute to the poison in the air and the heating of the Earth – but what choice do we have?  We’re all enmeshed in this.  We might want to speak out, but what would we say?  There’s no easy place to grab hold and mobilize; it’s too complex and huge and pointless – the system’s broken, the powerful won’t listen, why speak?  Why put ourselves at risk, speaking out when no one else is?  [In an earlier generation Christians watched the rounding up of the Jews, week after week, and said nothing – because we’re afraid, because it could get us in trouble, because what good would it do anyway?]  There are no words.  It’s too big.

In fact, there is only one Word big enough to hold all this chaos and the planet itself – one Word small enough to inhabit the finest structures of each delicate hair on an insect’s back, each drop of water on Earth.  We who love this Word – this living Word, this Logos through whom all things were made, and are made – we who have no words for our planet’s future, but who love this Word through whom it all was made, are poised in an unprecedented place.  More starkly than any previous generation of Christians, we are faced globally with this choice: to participate in the speaking now of this living Word, in all its beauty and power, or to be increasingly complicit in the actual ongoing silencing of this Word, the Logos of God in all that is.  For make no mistake: it is precisely this living Word, the Logos permeating the creation in unique and marvelous forms all over this Earth, that our present way of life is exterminating.  This living Word in all its complexity is the very thing our Earth-destruction isunraveling, the very voice and Word and heart and Logos of God woven throughout the intricacy of species and life-forms.  Letting ourselves be silenced in the face of this ongoing erasure will permit more and more of that Word being silenced, day after day after day.  The longer we continue our present course, the fewer there will be left – of any species – to speak the Word…

That’s one option, to be silent about all this.  It’s safer and quieter and more sickening.  But it’s not the only way.  This day we also hear the call to SPEAK that Word incarnate throughout creation, enfleshed in Jesus, poured out into us!  For what do we hear this Word of all-that-is saying, this week?  Shout out, do not hold back!  Raise your voice like a trumpet!  Call the people to conversion!  Be fearless: you’re salt!  You are light!  Don’t suffocate yourself under a bushel – speak!

This can only be a communal call, this speaking the living Word in an eco-cidal age.  Alone it’s too hard.  We are a GreenFaith seminary – what will that mean?  How will we act?

It’s not all up to the president and the Board – but we need the President and the Board to set us on a course for real prophetic ecological witness to a threatened world, and to authorize bold discernment and action.  Geo-thermal, anyone?

It’s not all up to the faculty – but we need the faculty to use this curriculum process to think even further outside the box, to equip leaders for radically immersive connection to the Word alive in the natural world, the voice of God spoken and alive, just as deeply as we teach our students to love the Word in the Scriptures.

It’s not all up to the staff, to the students, to the spouses, to our congregations – but we need every single voice and heart, everyone’s best creative joyful imagination, to grow this place into a vibrant seedbed where we learn how to step off the grid and into the soil, how to use our land responsibly and how to breathe the sky and the Spirit and [to give up our privilege and] to rattle the cages of Congress and local leaders and join with others as long as it takes till there’s change, and life, and to invite inner-city kids to the woods – and to learn ever more fully to pray in the languages of our creek and our trees and wind and storm and garden.

This living Word is calling us all on Earth to a new immersion in the Logos through whom all things were made, a new intimacy and immediacy of senses, a much bigger circle of kin, a congregation wide enough to include all Earth-systems of life.  We are creative people – we are reforming people – we are imaginative people, sacramental people, and we are people of the Word, this Living Word, who calls to us through this Earth and gives us voice when we’ve lost our voice.  When we have no words, in the face of all we’ve lost already and all we will yet lose in the years ahead – when we have no words in the face of our fear and pain this Word itself carries us.  In life and in death we belong to this Lord, woven into our very cells.  And this Word enfleshed in all that is will never cease to fill us and breathe in us and come pouring roaring bursting out: Shout out, do not hold back!  Raise your voice like a trumpet!  We are salt!  We are light!  Let’s go!

The Rev. Dr. Lisa E. Dahill

 

 

National Preach-In on Climate Change: Sermon for Epiphany 6A

Sermon for Sixth Sunday in Epiphany, Year A
Deuteronomy 30:5-20
Saint Andrew and Emmaus Lutheran Churches, Racine WI
February 16, 2014 – National Preach-In on Climate Change
Dr. Peter W. Bakken
Executive Director, Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

In our first reading, from Deuteronomy, this morning, we heard some of Moses’ final instructions to the Hebrew people. He had led them out of slavery in Egypt and through forty years of wandering in the desert. They were about to cross the river Jordan and enter the Promised Land, though he would not be going with them.

Moses makes it clear that in their new home they will face fateful choices, choices that will determine whether their future will be one of prosperity or adversity, blessing or curse, life or death.

His words also make clear that their choices will be made and their future lived out as creatures within creation: as dwellers in the land in the presence of heaven and earth.

Moses says:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Like the people of ancient Israel, we are faced with choices that mean life or death, blessings or curses for ourselves and for our descendants.

Creation is God’s gift to us – of a world of abundance, beauty and mystery, a living and life-sustaining planet with water to drink and air to breathe and fertile soil in which to grow food; a world of forests and prairies, of oceans and mountains, of an unimaginable variety of plants and animals from the sparrows, squirrels and dandelions in our back yards to tropical rain forests, polar bears and coral reefs.

Creation is indeed God’s gift to us – but not for us alone: rather, it is a gift for all people and for all creatures.

Sadly, though, throughout our history as a species, we have not always treated creation and other creatures with the respect they deserve. We have not always justly shared the earth and its fruits with our neighbors. Too often, we have not chosen to walk in God’s ways, in the ways of justice, peace, and the care of the earth. To often, we have chosen instead to bow down to and serve the gods of greed, hatred, domination, and self-indulgence.

Past generations have made both good and bad choices, and we, and the rest of creation, live with the consequences of those choices.

One of those choices has been to get the overwhelming majority of our energy from fossil fuels – from coal, oil, and natural gas. In Wisconsin, nearly three-quarters of our energy comes from coal – which we have to import, because we have no coal of our own, at a cost of over eight and a half million dollars every year.

That choice has brought both blessings and curses, life and death.

In many ways, fossil fuels have been a blessing. They have been a treasure trove of millions of years of stored sunlight that we have released in the twinkling of an eye, geologically speaking. With that energy we have created industries and technologies that have brought undreamed of prosperity – although not for everyone. And the livelihoods of many people are dependent on the fossil fuel industry, although for some, like coal miners, it may be at the cost of their health and safety.

The use of fossil fuels may not have been the wrong choice in the early stages of the industrial era. But as a society we have clung to that decision in spite of growing evidence that it is not sustainable, that the costs of continuing on this path are outweighing the benefits.

Some of the costs are quite clear and immediate. There have been quite a few news stories recently of trains carrying crude oil exploding, rivers contaminated by coal ash spills, and coal processing chemicals infiltrating water supplies.

Other costs are more indirect: health problems from breathing the by-products of burning fossil fuels such as fine carbon particulates, nitrous oxide, and ozone, or from eating fish contaminated with mercury.

And others may be less obvious but are no less real: the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is causing acidification of the oceans and disruptions in the earth’s climate as a result of global warming.

These are matters of justice because many of these costs fall more heavily on those who are the most vulnerable, like children, the chronically ill, and the elderly. And they are also borne by those who live in poor and minority communities. They are often more directly exposed to pollution from power plants and have fewer resources to protect themselves from flooding, heat waves, and crop failures caused by climate change.

As a society, we can debate the relative weights of various costs and benefits, the advantages and disadvantages of alternative technologies, the details of particular scientific projections and analyses. But surely we can and must demand a cleaner, healthier, safer world for ourselves and our descendants. Surely we want to be remembered as a generation that chose life rather than death. Surely we can do better than this!

We can’t turn back the clock. We may not be able to retrieve and contain all the toxic chemicals we have released into the environment. We can’t resurrect every extinct species. We can only reduce, not stop, global warming.

But we still have choices, important choices that will have consequences for ourselves; for the most vulnerable neighbors in our communities and the world; for our children, grandchildren, and descendants; and for the creatures with which we share this planet.

I had the privilege and pleasure of spending last night not far from here, in the hermitage at the Racine Dominicans Eco-Justice Center. In real and practical ways, the Center is a signpost pointing to the sorts of choices we must make and the path that we need to follow if we and future generations are going to live long on this gifted and graceful earth in faithful obedience to God, with love and justice toward our neighbors, and with care and respect for the whole of creation.

If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to visit the Center and see for yourself the wind turbine, the solar panels that provide electricity and hot water, and the gardens and the chickens, bees, alpacas, goats and other creatures they care for. And you can see their respect for the history of that place, even as they help to teach schoolchildren the knowledge and values that we all need to learn in order to create a more sustainable society.

The people of Israel said farewell to their prophet Moses before they crossed the river Jordan into the Promised Land. Not long ago, we took leave of a latter-day prophet with a passion for justice and care for the earth, who for decades used music and humor to cajole us into making choices that will lead to life rather than death. In his song, “Rainbow Race,” Pete Seeger sang,

One blue sky above us,

One ocean, lapping all our shores.
One earth so green and round,

Who could ask for more?

And because I love you

I’ll give it one more try.
To show my rainbow race

It’s too soon to die.

Go tell, go tell all the little children!

Go tell mothers and fathers, too:
Now’s our last chance to learn to share

What’s been given to me and you

One blue sky above us,

One ocean, lapping all our shores.
One earth so green and round,

Who could ask for more?

Heaven and earth will bear witness, in very concrete ways, to the choices you and I make today.

Amen