Saturday, October 16, 2010

Persistent Faith, Persistent Hope

Luke 18:1-8

Tomorrow’s Gospel lesson (Luke 18:1-8) is about persistence. Jesus tells the story of a judge who respected neither God nor other people, and of the widow who repeatedly goes to this “unjust judge” to ask for justice against her opponent. Her persistence wears him down, and he gives her justice just so she will stay away. Jesus says that if an unjust judge eventually does the right thing, God will much more quickly bring justice to God’s children who cry out day and night.

Then Jesus asks this question: “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” How much faith in a God who hears our cries for justice do we have?

This week again there was discouraging news. Climate Progress yesterday reported NASA reports the hottest January to September on record .  I read this week an interview by David Helvarg with the President of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, telling of the unimaginable task Kiribati faces of trying to get wealthier nations to act on climate change soon enough and strongly enough to give his nation some hope of staying above water (yes, literally) while also figuring out what happens to the nation and its people if climate change continues on its present course. Already they have erosion and flooding at high tides, and salt water intruding on their cropland.

The response of the wealthier nations has not been positive, but President Anote Tong of Kiribati, like the President of the Maldives and others, is persistent in pursuing justice. If we are faithful to our baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace, and to respect the dignity of every human being, we will join our voices with theirs. 

Being persistently faithful is inseparable from being persistently hopeful. Even in the face of a daunting task, we continue to act to bring about a healthier planet for all. Our hope is that our faithful persistence will eventually wear down the powerful political and economic interests that respect neither God’s creation nor other human beings. Our hope is that our cries for justice and our acting as people who know justice is on its way will bring about the changes we need sooner rather than later.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Blog Action Day

Today bloggers around the world are participating in Blog Action Day, an annual occasion for bloggers to talk about a selected topic from each blog’s unique perspective. This year's topic for Blog Action Day is water.

Nebraskans know the importance of water. We are blessed with the Ogallala aquifer as a source of water for drinking and irrigation. We treasure our rivers and appreciate our lakes and ponds for fishing, boating, and watering livestock. Wetlands are an important element of our ecological system, and take on special importance when migrating birds, including the Sandhill cranes, come through along the central flyway.  Pollution and depletion of water resources is a constant concern for Nebraskans desiring a healthy, sustainable environment. The current controversy about a proposed TransCanada pipeline crossing the Nebraska Sandhills has highlighted the importance of these wetlands and of the Ogallala aquifer to our economy and our way of life.

Christians know the importance of water. The water of baptism is central to our liturgy. During the Thanksgiving over the Water in our baptismal liturgy, the celebrant recounts some of the events of the salvation story in which water was a central element: the creation story, the Exodus through the Red Sea, the baptism of Jesus.

The Episcopal Church is committed to the Millennium Development Goals, and our concern for the environment springs in part from that commitment. Along with being a piece of the goal of environmental sustainability, access to clean water is a key piece of the goals related to children’s health, maternal health, and preventing diseases.  If we care for the poor, we will care about having clean, sustainable water resources around the world. Jesus said, “Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:42)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Green Opportunity for Parishes

GreenFaith and the Episcopal Church have announced a collaboration to enroll Episcopal churches in the GreenFaith Certification Program. The program provides resources and structure for parishes to become greener and to provide leadership to encourage other congregations to become better stewards of the environment. Thirty Episcopal congregations will receive subsidies covering 50% of the cost of the program.

Details about the program are available in the articles Innovative partnership aims to help Episcopal churches ‘go green’ from Episcopal News Service and GreenFaith and the Episcopal Church Announce Environmental Collaboration on the GreenFaith website. 

GreenFaith is offering free webinars so for church leaders who want to learn more about this opportunity.  The hour-long webinars will be on:

  • Monday, Oct. 18, 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm ET  (6:00 and 8:00 Central time)
  • Thursday, Oct. 21, 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm ET ( 11:00 am and 2:00 pm Central time)
 Recordings of the webinars will be available on-line.  To register for a webinar, contact Stacey Kennealy, Director of the Certification Program, at

Monday, October 11, 2010


10/10/10 Work Party

“Look what I found!”  A small but congenial group had gathered at Lake Hastings today for a WDWT (Walking, De-Trashing, Worshiping, and Talking) Celebration, our contribution to the worldwide 10/10/10 environmental work parties coordinated by today. Because of repairs being done on the dam at Lake Hastings, the water level is down, exposing sand and lots of things buried in the sand. We were finding lots of glass, many plastic drinking straws and cup lids, remnants of plastic bags, and other such pieces of trash that one would expect to find.

My unexpected find was an unbroken half of a large mussel shell.  I’ve found pieces of shells along the lake recently since the water level was lowered, and even a couple of smaller unbroken halves, but this one is six inches long with a lovely mother of pearl lining.

As I approached my friend Karen with my treasure, she held up something on a chain and said, “Look what I found – a crucifix!” Karen had seen a little bit of the chain sticking out of the sand; when she pulled on it, she found a closed circular chain with a crucifix that was crusted with dirt, rust, and sand.

We had two parts to the work party: walking and picking up trash was the first part, and the second part -- keeping in mind that liturgy is the work of the people -- was a time for group reflection and a short liturgy from the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program called The Poverty of Global Climate Change, a reminder that people living in poverty are hurt first and worst by climate change.

While walking we took note of the things around us this pleasant autumn day for which we were grateful, then shared some of those things when we got back together. I shared my joy in finding a good-sized freshwater shell; it brought back memories of finding shells along Lake Erie as child, and finding one this size was a surprise for me. I also shared my concern about the future of shellfish in the oceans as the amount of carbon in the atmosphere increases and the ocean becomes more acidic. (See for example this article  in the Yale Environment 360 digest.) Someone else talked about the contrast between the apparent beauty of the lake and the shards of glass and other trash we found as we looked more closely. She said it’s easy to avoid looking at the dangerous things in our world and to pretend everything is fine.

The encrusted crucifix is another cause for gratitude; it seems like a good symbol for this day when we set out in Christ’s name to do a little bit to help repair God’s creation. Finding the crucifix was a reminder of the grace we find when we are willing to look at the world around us, at both its joys and its sorrows, and to serve as the Body of Christ to see and know those needs, to name the truth of those needs, and bring help and healing.

I brought the crucifix home and have been soaking and cleaning it for several hours. Sometime mid-evening, I realized there was some sort of inscription on the back, and now just enough letters have emerged to make it possible to decipher the message: Christ is counting on me.