40 ways for 40 days

We’re all carbon addicts. We live lives dependent on goods and services being moved to where we are and dependent on our own ability to travel, buy, and use.

I practice a couple of Lenten disciplines, usually centering around taking on something rather than giving something up (most often, an additional spiritual practice like extra prayer or Bible study). But for those who do “give something up” for Lent, may I join my brothers in the Church of England who suggest that this year people try a carbon fast.


There are the usual reasons like the planet, you know, dying if we continue to consume at these rates, but perhaps you want something more spiritual from the pastor recommending a Lenten discipline?

How about this: I firmly believe that the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in/on/under/above it. I believe that only when we reverence all of life do we truly embrace God. I believe that our selfish dependence on fossil fuels is not only destructive to others but to our own spirits, because we tell ourselves that we deserve the best and most disposable products and we must have them now. I believe that we are actually happier, healthier, more spiritually centered people when we are living in harmony with the Universe and not in opposition to it. Reducing our impact on the environment promotes justice and well-being for all of creation an teaches us to live out of God’s abundance and care rather than our own needs and desires. And that, I think, is what giving something up for Lent is all about.

The above link contains ten simple, every-day ideas to undertake a carbon fast. I figured I could do better than that.

Under the cut, 40 way for 40 days: simple, everyday ideas to begin a Lenten carbon fast.

Continue reading “40 ways for 40 days”

Um, Pastor, didn’t I see you at the State House?

At the NY Stae House in 2005
At the NY State House in 2005

Tomorrow is Visibility Day at the Vermont State House. It is a day for all those who support equal marriage for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons to be seen and heard, to talk with their representatives, and to give voice to their support of full equality in marriage. I plan to be in attendance.

First let me say that for a social-justice oriented person like me, being in ministry in a state capital is a tempting thing. I could find myself three blocks away at the capital building nearly every day of the week, supporting or protesting something. Realising that this could eat up a considerable portion of the time I have to do all of my ministry (and this is a part of my ministry, I do believe), I have given myself three areas where I will intentionally be socially and politically engaged as well as spiritually.

1. Addressing local housing issues. Not only do I think this is a pressing concern (about which I have blogged quite a bit), but I think that the approach is essential. It is not helpful for a bunch of middle class persons to get together and talk about homelessness and the lack of affordable housing and come up with ‘solutions.’ The proper approach I believe is to build some community around listening to the experiences and wisdom of those who have lived, are living, or are in danger of living without housing. Their knowledge of the problem and their suggestions for action should carry far more weight than those of folks (even the best-intentioned advocates) for whom this is a hypothetical question.

2. Ecology, Stewardship, and Sustainability. Because, frankly, we’re all in a world of trouble if we don’t clean up out act, kick our oil addition, and re-localize our economies. This is a moral issue, both in terms of the distribution of resources and in terms of the care of the earth, God’s sacred creation. The church has to be a leader in the movement to place care of the earth and one another above convenience and consumption, and one of the ways we need to minister is to engage in political action as well.

3. Full inclusion of GLBT persons in all aspects of society (including equal, non-separate marriage status). Understand that here I step beyond the current textbook stance of he global United Methodist Church, and that if your position differs from mine (especially you, members of my congregational communities!), there is plenty of space at the table for all positions within the United Methodist Church and within the congregations of Trinity and Grace UMC. Accord with the pastor in this issue is not a requirement! However, I feel strongly that this is a justice issue, particularly with respect to the civil rights afforded our citizens, and particularly when it comes to creating a separate-and-not-quite-equal citizenry. I also feel that for too long the faith community has been painted with a broad and monochromatic brush, so that to be a person of faith (let alone a leader in a faith community) is to oppose gay marriage. This is not the case, and other clear voices are needed to speak an alternative position. I therefore slap on my clerical collar and join in the day of witness, not as a representative of Grace or Trinity United Methodist Church, not as a representative of Troy Annual Conference or the United Methodist Church as a whole, but as a representative of the people of God and the clergy who serve in God’s church who think and feel differently. I do it as a representative of my own heart and my own conviction, because if I lacked heart and conviction of any kind, or ignored the heart and conviction that I have, I would be a poor example indeed.

As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and ideas, wherever you’re coming from.

Today’s troubles are enough…

My sermon this morning (a little off lectionary because I was away last week) was about rejecting attempting to reject the pressures of society that tell us to have more, more, more in favor of seeing that we have enough. As that Wise Man put it, look at the birds and the flowers. They make it; they are beautiful. And if God cares about them and provides for them, what do we have to worry about? You can hear the sermon, Enough for Today (also entitled My iPhone, let me show you it) at my sermon archive.

Of course the truth is that we do worry about a great many things. Every time I pass a gas station I wonder how I’m going to afford the next $40 tank of gas, let alone the single parents in my congregation and the families in town whose kids get out of school (and away from those free lunches) in a couple weeks’ time. And we do stockpile lots of stuff we don’t need, from fancy clothes and big houses to my personal weaknesses, books, electronic gadgets and more books.

Does this worry make us more efficient? More prepared? Does the stuff make us happier? More secure? Better informed and able to communicate? In my sermon, I referenced Colin Beaven, No Impact Man,  who discussed in a few recent posts the cravings for more weighed against the joys of focusing on importnat stuff like family and friends and finding deep meaning in life. I challenged my congregation to fast from something for a day or so this week– not as penance or cleansing or even to make the world a better place, but as a tool to reflect on what makes us happy. Are we happier without checking our email every five minutes? Without worrying about the price of gas? Without pumping caffeine in our bodies? (I don’t know about you, but I’m chronically guilty of all three of those!)

I never issue a challenge to my congregation without being willing to answer it myself, so this week, I’m going to cut back on something– I’m not entirely sure yet which something it will be. I’m headed out of town for Annual Conference, so there’s a lot of work to be done up front– calls to make, online research to do, bulletins to print, long hours to burn– that makes it hard to swear off the internet or the iPhone or filling the gas tank or the coffee cup.

What about you? From what would you fast for a day or two? A practice? An item? A worry?

And speaking of worry, my husband is having a minor operation tomorrow afternoon, so I’m sure I’ll burn several hours considering the strengths and weaknesses of modern medicine rather than the clothing of the lilies of the field. Prayers of strength and courage will be appreciated! But that’s tomorrow, and for the next thirty five minutes at least, today’s troubles are enough for today.

Sermon: To a Known God

“To a Known God”

( April 20, 2008 ) What if all of the aspects of our lives are interconnected– how we treat each other, our economic systems, our abuse of the planet, our isolation from God? What would it mean on this Earth Day to live our lives as if we were all in God, to be connected to the One in whom we ‘live and move and have our being’? (Acts 17:22-31)