It its 79th General Convention held in July 2018, the Episcopal Church passed 19 resolutions related to care of the environment and climate change. Many resolutions cite their strong theological basis in their first paragraph(s). A013 begins, “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we recognize that the Earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24), has been made in and through Christ (John 1) and we are placed in it as a garden planet (Genesis 2).” Similarly, A018 connects climate change to Christian mission and ethics: “Resolved, that climate change be recognized as a human-made threat to all God’s people, creatures and the entire created order, while particularly placing unjust and inequitable burdens and stresses on native peoples, those displaced by environmental change, poor communities and people of color.”
How are we to implement such resolutions in our churches and homes, let alone our national government? For one, the Episcopal Church has a government relations office that can help lobby for the care of creation. In our congregations, we can talk the time to study the issues, understand what we have the power to do and change, then plan a course of action. Below are resources that you may want to consider in your planning for the upcoming program year.
This Lent I have been following along with the journal, Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John; I have been struck by how the themes of John speak to what is going on in the world today. It hasn’t escaped me that this past weekend’s #MarchForOurLives occurred the day before Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus marched into Jerusalem to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God and challenge the status quo. The words that have spoken to me in the readings (and nightly news) these past weeks have been: testify, witness, declare, action. Jesus is among us again as a high school student.
“We declare to you . . . what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” ––1 John 1:1
I live a pretty privileged life. While I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and put myself through college while working some pretty tough jobs, I haven’t had to march for my life. I have had my share of participating in demonstrations, holding signs, and chanting with the crowd––but then I’ve had the luxury of going back home to a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a family to surround me with love. Continue reading A Holy Week Reflection→
Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
I quoted those words in an introduction more than four years ago as I garnered a collection of essays and prayers and put together an action guide for Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: Challenging the Epidemic of Gun Violence (Morehouse, 2015). At the time, people were still reeling from the horrific events of December 14, 2012. Since then, the violence has not ceased. A week ago, it occurred again, this time in a high school in Florida. Friends and colleagues have been sharing resources yet again, and the blogosphere has been filled with thoughtful posts filled with anger, condemnation, and calls for action.
I have been silent, feeling helpless and frozen. I can pray. I can donate funds to those who fight the gun lobby. I am thankful that my senators and representatives on both the state and national level are constant advocates for gun control. I’m trained as an educator. Both of my children are teachers in public schools. My home has always been a gun-free zone. I expect our schools (and churches) to be so also. Guns don’t protect people. People do. Continue reading Rachel is Still Weeping→
This article first appeared in “Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation” magazine which is published annually by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. The full magazine (chock-full of great ideas) is available for purchase on their website.
Today’s culture can be toxic for children and other living things. If we build our values on the “put-downs” and sound bites of social media and incidences of daily violence that permeate the news, we might lose hope in what the future could hold for our children. How do we nurture a generous spirit in children when it would seem the world is about self-aggrandizement, winning, and having the most toys?
While we may think children are born as empty vessels waiting for family, teachers, and (yes) the church to fill them with love, knowledge, dreams, values, and a purpose, we know that they are already born with a capacity to know God and experience love. As caretakers of our children, it is our responsibility to nurture that which already exists, by providing an environment where their desire to be loved and part of a community is openly welcomed, acting as role models in what it means to be a generous, loving person made in the image of God.
We are born for sympathy and compassion. In a University of Oregon study, economist Bill Harbaugh and psychologist Ulrich Mayr found that charitable generosity activated the reward center of the brain, indicating that our brains are naturally made for kindness. Furthering this research are studies on compassionate meditation such as the one conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which illustrated that through the repeated practice of mindful generosity, we can increase empathetic responses to others.
This was a presentation given at the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes (CEEP) 2017 annual conference held recently in Washington, D.C.
How can congregational leadership bridge the gap that takes place between what happens on Sunday morning church and home (or school or work) the rest of the week? Even if one were to attend worship every Sunday of the year, that would account for less that 1% of waking hours – and we know the average worshipper is not in church every Sunday. Family life today is full of carpools, running around, juggling a multitude of activities (chosen and mandatory).
Many parents are searching for ways to nurture their children in the life of the Christian faith. They come with honest questions and look to the church for answers. Others, realizing their lack of biblical and theological background, turn their children over to the church and the church school – because they want it done right, by the experts. We cannot assume that parents know what to do with their children in regard to nurturing them in a life of faith. They may bring them to us to be baptized – but what happens after that? And more and more, that is nothing. We are lucky they return for times other than their child to participate in the Christmas pageant, show up in their Sunday best on Easter, or reappear when confirmation age rolls around. Continue reading Creating Burning Bushes: Supporting Faith at Home→