Tag Archives: Regions/Synods

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.

 

 

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

 

 

Sample resolutions to edit and submit at your next synod assembly

Carbon Pricing & Dividend Sample Resolutions & Talking Points/Issues

Sample Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy Resolution

Sample Fossil Fuels Divestment Resolution

Sample Synod Resolution on Eco-Reformation

Sample Resolution Regarding Inclusion of Stewardship of Creation in Worship

Sample Resolution to Become a Lutherans Restoring Creation Synod

 

 

Green Synod Mission Statement

[Please adapt this mission statement for your use]

As a synod committed to care for creation, we affirm creation in all its glory and beauty. We acknowledge God as the source of all things. We acknowledge Christ as the redeemer of all things. We acknowledge the Spirit as the sustainer of all things. As a result, we strive to respect all of life as sacramental. We accept our vocation as earth-keepers who care for creation. We see ourselves as part of the covenant of Noah that God made with humans and with all the animals of the land, sea, and air. We accept our responsibility to live justly in relation to our fellow human beings in ways that all creatures may mutually thrive together. We as a synod commit ourselves to support creation-care in the following five areas. Each area is followed by sample actions.

  1. Worship:We seek to worship in ways that express our gratitude and praise to God the creator and that glorify God intentionally together with all creation. In worship, we will celebrate creation, confess our sins against creation, grieve the losses of creation, commit ourselves to care for earth, and devote ourselves to peace and justice for the whole earth-community.
  2. Education: We seek to learn about the biblical, theological, and ecclesial traditions about creation, including the biblical mandate from God for us to care for Earth. We will seek to learn about the present degradations of creation due to human activity, how these degradations are related to human exploitation and oppression, how we as religious people are implicated in these matters, and what we as Christians can do to restore creation for future generations. We will train people to be leaders in their synod and community in our cooperative efforts to care for creation.
  3. Building and Grounds: We agree to assess the destructive impact that our activities and the use and maintenance of our property may have upon creation—in such matters as energy use, toxic products, paper use, water use, waste, transportation, among others. We will strive to make choices that lessen our negative impact on Earth and that heal and renew Earth Community.
  4. Discipleship as Home and Work:We encourage ourselves as individual members of this synod—at whatever age, economic level, ethnic group, or walk of life—to care for creation in our personal lifestyle, in our homes, and at our work—knowing that our habits and practices can contribute significantly to care for creation. We seek to foster a closer relationship with nature so that we can live simply and walk lightly upon the earth.
  5. Public Ministry/Political Advocacy:We seek to change the systems of government, business, and industry that foster the degradation of creation and to rectify the injustices that result from it. In cooperation with the ELCA office of advocacy, we seek to alert our congregations to legislation that protects creation and to encourage their active participation in the development of public policy. We encourage members to participate in civic activities and organizations that foster environmental health. We seek to let our care for creation be known to others..

We will pursue the implications of these provisions in a grace-filled and non-legalistic way, seeking to find hope and joy in the commitments that these provisions may entail and in the restorations that they engender. Because we desire to leave Earth a better place for our children, we will promote love and respect for creation in our youth.

Green Synod Funding

To support projects at the synodical and congregational levels, we will seek funding from the church, governmental agencies, foundations, and corporations concerned with care of the Earth.

Green Synod Declaration

In support of our commitment to care for creation, the synod will seek to declare itself a “Green Synod” and make public commitments with support for carrying them out.

Cooperation with the ELCA and with Lutherans Restoring Creation

We will seek to cooperate with the promotion of creation-care in the ELCA and the activities and resources of LRC. We will network among synods in the sharing of ideas, experiences, and resources. We will contribute reports to the LRC website. As we are able, we will seek to promote the greening of the ELCA in its offices, divisions, organizations, events, publications, and assemblies.

 

Retreat Center in Georgia hosts LRC Retreat – Winter 2018

February 2-4, 2018 in Tallapoosa GA ( @ LutherRidge Retreat Center) 
Over the course of two nights and three days 26 people from 8 different states gathered to equip one another with the spirit of Resurrection before Lent even got started! Check out our agenda and let us know if you think something like this would be helpful in your area. We will be following up with these participants to ensure they follow through on the action plans they put into to motion. Thanks to Region IX Stewardship Council & ELCA Domestic Mission, Stewardship for your support!

Climate Change Revival – New England Congregations Unite (2013)

The weekend that Boston’s Copley Square re-opened after the devastating Marathon Bombings brought healing and refreshment in many forms. A large gathering of ecumenical environmental groups gathered for worship and networking all day of April 27th. LRC was one of many featured groups at a poster session. New England ELCA Bishop Hazelwood was part of a panel discussion commenting on critical nature of climate change as a social justice issue.

Carers for Creation Collaborate in the Northeast to Support the Earth and One Another (2015)

Check out the list of assets all these people bring to the table and how many forces are represented here! (Download notes from our January 2015 Gathering at Hartford Seminary by clicking this link). Watch out despair – this alliance remembers how to put hope into action!

 

 

Nurturing A Network: NW Minnesota Creation Care Team 2013

The mission of the Northwest Minnesota Synod Creation CareTeam is “to nurture a growing network that inspires our congregations and their members to live out God’s call to be stewards of the earth for the sake of the whole creation.”

At the 2012 synod assembly, the Synod Creation Care Team conducted a survey to learn how it might support the creation care work of congregations.  Many congregations asked for more training. In response, the team is offering annual retreats to equip congregational leaders on how to integrate God’s call to care for the Earth into the core elements of congregational life: worship, stewardship, education, and outreach.

The first training retreat was held at Camp Hiawatha on February 22-23, 2013.  The focus was on worship and the Season of Creation liturgical resource because, in the words of the team, “worship is at the heart of everything we do and are as the church.”

During the retreat, thirty-four participants from 12 congregations, two camps, and one campus ministry experienced the Season of Creation in worship, learned how other congregations are practicing creation care, shared success stories, and went home equipped with many resources.

“It was a rich experience that provided a lot of encouragement,” according to one participant.

Pastor Karen Foster, team co-chair, said, “This retreat is clearly the beginning of nurturing a growing network through which our congregations, camps, and campus ministries can encourage, inspire, and support each other in this vital focus!”

Training schedule, training brochure

SCCT Training Retreat Letter:

NE MN Retreat on Worship: Letter of Invitation
Northeastern Minnesota Synod Creation Care Team

Greetings from your NEMN Synod Creation Care Team, and an Invitation to participate in:
Creation Care 2013
The Season of Creation: A Retreat to Equip Congregational Leaders
February 22-23, 2013 at Camp Hiawatha

At this year’s (2012) synod assembly, the Synod Creation Care Task Force conducted a survey to learn how congregations are involved in creation care efforts and how our task force might support that work. From these surveys, we gathered names of some of the congregations who desire more information and training. We are encouraged by what congregations like yours already do and by your desire to network and grow with other congregations!

Many congregations asked for more training in living God’s call to care for creation. In response to this interest, we are offering the congregations of our synod an annual retreat to equip congregational leaders. These retreats will focus on integrating God’s call to care for the Earth into the core elements of congregational life: worship, stewardship, education, and outreach.

The Synod Creation Care Team invites your congregation to assemble a team of key leaders to participate in the first training retreat on Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23 at Camp Hiawatha in Deer River. Since worship is at the heart of everything we do and are as the Church, this first retreat will focus on worship, specifically on a season of the church year called the Season of Creation. Developed by the Lutheran Church in Australia and adapted for use in the ELCA, this is a four to six week liturgical season typically inserted mid-way through the green season after Pentecost. It corresponds to our three year lectionary cycle with weekly themes that include, for example, earth, sky, mountains, humanity and world communion.

During the retreat, congregations will experience the Season of Creation in worship, learn how other congregations are practicing creation care, share success stories, and go home equipped with many resources. Registration starts at 4:00 p.m. with introductions at 5:00, supper at 5:30, and opening worship at 6:15. It will conclude about 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The cost for the retreat will be $50 per person, which cost includes dinner Friday night, overnight accommodations, and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. We are seeking scholarship assistance to help defray the participant cost. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

This is a great opportunity for pastors and other key congregational leaders to become better equipped to lead their congregation in implementing God’s call to be stewards of the whole creation. We hope to hear from you and see you in February. For further questions or to convey your interest in this synodical initiative, please contact either of our team co-chairpersons: Pastor Kristin Foster at 218-741-7057 or Pastor David Carlson at 218-722-3381.

Yours in Christ,

NEMN Synod Creation Care Team

P.S. For more information, check out the web site at http://www.letallcreationpraise.org/season-of-creation.

The NE MN Synod Creation Care Team Mission: To nurture a growing network that inspires our congregations and their members to live out God’s call to be stewards of the earth for the sake of the whole creation!
(*formerly Synod Creation Care Task Force)

NE MN Synod Retreat on Creation Care Worship, 2013 Retreat Schedule

Season of Creation Retreat: February 22 and 23 at Camp Hiawatha

Northeast Minnesota Synod

Friday, Feb 22, 2013

4pm                  registration

5pm                  welcome/introductions

5:30pm             supper

Evening            opening worship – TBA

                        Season of Creation overview – Krehl

                        Team building – Joel

                        First Sunday in the Season of Creation: Lakes Sunday – Dave & Rosie

Saturday, Feb 23, 2013

8:00am             Breakfast

Morning            Sundays in the Season of Creation – Dennis (as general resource person)?

                        Second Sunday: Fauna Sunday – Tom, Vicki (& Anders?)

                        Third Sunday: Storm Sunday – Kristin, Mark

                        Fourth Sunday: Cosmos Sunday – Krehl (& Steve?)

                        Lunch

Afternoon         Relationships and resources

  • Lutherans Restoring Creation – Mark
  • Additional Resources – All

                        Congregational Planning – Kristin

                        Sending worship – TBA

3:00pm             Depart

Proposal

Walk through each of the four or five Sundays of the Season of Creation for the year of Luke.

Consider approaching each Sunday in multiple ways, starting with mini-presentations from the team and then providing one or two small group/team reflection times for each session.  It might look like this

Do the Season of Creation overview on Friday evening before or after team building.

Do 3 or possibly 4 seasons on Saturday morning, 45 minutes each.

Season of Creation Overview: The Wisdom series from Luke

  1. The three year season of creation cycle
  2. Year of Luke perspectives: the Wisdom tradition
  3. Preview/intro on science, art, music

Ocean/Lakes Sunday

  1. Sing a related hymn and one piece of the Dakota road earthkeeping liturgy
  2. Assign people/volunteers to read the lectionary readings to the whole group
  3. Small group discussion #1 – diving into the lectionary
  4. Share insights, mini-presenter draw from those and highlight anything else
  5. Science and/or other contemporary perspective on the topic
  6. Small group discussion #2 –  Worship possibilities, including art and music
  7. Large group sharing
  8. Youth, education, and outreach possibilities – seed with some ideas, then back to small groups/teams

Mini-presentations

  • The lectionary
  • Science
  • Music

This way the “congregational planning” piece would be an ongoing process, and then provide some wrap-up planning time toward the end of the retreat.

Series C: The Wisdom Series

Wisdom is a deep impulse within all parts of creation, designing their mysteries, guiding their purposes, and mentoring their functions. The Wisdom series correlates with the Luke series of the church year.

First Sunday in Creation
Theme: Ocean Sunday
Old Testament Job 38:1-18
Psalm Psalm 104:1-9, 24-26
Epistle Ephesians 1:3-10
Gospel Luke 5:1-11
Second Sunday in Creation
Theme: Fauna Sunday
Old Testament Job 39:1-8, 26-30
Psalm Psalm 104:14-23
Epistle 1 Corinthians 1:10-23
Gospel Luke 12:22-31
Third Sunday in Creation
Theme: Storm Sunday
Old Testament Job 28:20-27
Psalm Psalm 29
Epistle 1 Corinthians 1:21-31
Gospel Luke 8:22-25
Fourth Sunday in Creation
Theme: Cosmos Sunday
Old Testament Proverbs 8:22-31
Psalm Psalm 148
Epistle Colossians 1:15-20
Gospel John 6:41-51

 

Facilitators:

This retreat is a model for grassroots leadership in the congregations of our synod and will be led by the whole creation care team, including:

+Joel Abenth (Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry)

+Anders Meier (Camp Onamia)

+Pr. Mark Peters (Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in MN)

+Pr. Krehl Stringer (Faith United, Iron)

+Rosie Loeffler-Kemp (Good Shepherd, Duluth)

+Pr. Kristin Foster (Messiah, Mt. Iron)

+Tom Uecker (Gloria Dei, Duluth)

+Pr. David Carlson (Gloria Dei, Duluth)

+Pr. Vicki Taylor (Northeastern MN Synod)

AND…

… we hope to include you!