Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving: Falling In Love Again

A day set aside to give thanks is splendid. The significance of the day deepens when we use it to commit ourselves to a regular practice of gratitude. Thinking of a few things every day for which we are grateful and giving thanks for those things is a powerful spiritual force when practiced regularly over time. It opens our hearts to be more responsive to others, more compassionate, and more aware of God’s presence in our world and our own lives. We are grateful for things that we love; feeling gratitude for something is like falling in love with it to at least some degree.

Gratitude is intertwined with love, hope, and faith, all essential elements of a spirituality that results in and supports an ethic of environmental stewardship. When we are grateful for the land, waters, plants, and animals and for our sisters and brothers with whom we share this planet, we are in compassionate relationship with the world around us.  The more we know the natural world around us, the more likely we are to fall in love with it and care for it.  A regular practice of gratitude helps us fall in love with the wonders of creation over and over again, deepening our love for and relationship with God’s creation each time we give thanks for some part of it.  As our love for God’s creation deepens, our love for the Creator deepens as well.

As children, some of us could hardly wait for the Thanksgiving dinner to be over so we could go outside and play.  Finding some time to get outdoors, even for a few minutes, and give thanks for what we find there brings joy to adults as well as children. May Thanksgiving joy be yours!

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us; And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed; And free us from all ills, in this world and the next! ("Now thank we all our God")

Monday, November 21, 2011

Praying the News: November 21 2001

Praying the News offers a way of lifting up people and situations to God and inviting others to do the same. We listen as well as speak in prayer, sometimes gaining wisdom or insight in difficult 

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect For the Conservation of Natural Resources (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 827)

Please pray for:

Coastal cities planning for the 2020’s and beyond.  A report commissioned by the state of New York’s energy research agency was released this week. (See this Associated Press story.) The report, written by fifty scientists, describes expected changes in climate and their expected effects on New York state so that New York can be prepared to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive impacts. With sea level rising up to ten inches by the mid-2020’s around Long Island and Manhattan, storm surges could flood airports, subway tunnels, and the financial district. New York and other coastal cities need wisdom and courage to look ahead and plan for rising sea levels

Fort Chipewyan in Alberta and all communities around the world that suffer health and social stresses from mining.  Last Thursday’s post Seeing and Serving Christ mentioned how the health and culture of the people of Fort Chipewyan have been affected by pollution from tar sands mining. That post referenced this soberingphoto essay  from This magazine. People in communities near large-scale mining operations suffering ill-effects from pollution is not unique to this situation, of course. Appalachian communities in areas where mountaintop removal is practiced, for example, are subject to negative impacts to their health and safety .  

The rapidly warming Arctic region. While the IPCC predicts that Arctic Sea ice will completely melt in summers sometime in the 2030’s, a study by Prof. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University says that the ice could be gone as soon as 2015 – four years from now. Whichever estimate is correct, the ice is melting rapidly, with huge consequences for the Arctic ecosystem with such drastic changes in habitat. This includes consequences for people living in the Arctic region.

Participants in the COP-17 climate summit in Durban.  A call has gone out for Anglicans to pray for the 17th Congress of the Parties (COP-17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as they meet in Durban, South Africa, beginning next week. Episcopal News Service reports:
Despite 17 years of negotiations to cut warming emissions, current global pledges to cut emissions leave Earth on track for between 2.5 and 4 degrees of warming, widely agreed to be catastrophic," the Rev. Canon Rachel Mash, environmental coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and member of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said in an Anglican Communion News Service release.
As we pray for others, we might also pray for our own hearts to be open so we can see the needs in the world around us and gladly respond to those needs:

O heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty; Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for Joy in God’s Creation (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 814)