Monday, November 30, 2015

COP21: Day 1

In honor of the start of the United Nations convention on climate change, a link to the United Methodist Bishops' God's Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Will COP21 be successful?

A podcast on COP21, the issues involved and the prospects for an agreement.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

COP21 Worship Resources

A collection of worship resources related to the Paris climate talks posted by Citizens for Public Justice.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Loving the Other Side

For those who practice both acts of piety and mercy, who follow a religion that is both inward and outward, who seek both personal and social holiness -- an encouragement to lift our spirits when we fail yet again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Marilynne Robinson Interview

The author Marilynne Robinson interviewed on the radio show "On Point" hosted by Tom Ashbrook.

Ms. Robinson shares her faith and her understanding of Christianity.  I wish she would have explained how she holds on to hope.  Without that explanation, her experience sounds more like an exercise of human will than the exercise of a spiritual practice.

I haven't found it possible to will myself into a more loving frame of mind or a more forgiving nature. I have found success when I've admitted my inability of change and confessed my need for Christ's help.  After that self-realization and confession, if I surrender to Christ's will, that's when my attitude improves.

In that moment, I stop focusing on what's annoying me (or frightening, angering, or depressing me) and instead start thinking about Christ.  That reminder of who Christ is and what Christ's mission is about, and most of all the connection to the Spirit of Christ that occurs when I surrender and seek help, that's what saves me from myself.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Prayers of the People

This prayer was offered at last night's Interfaith Thanksgiving service hosted at First UMC, Omaha:

Some of us look like the native people who lived here long ago, so close to this land that their arrival is not recorded.
With them we are pilgrims in this land.
Some of us look like the Spanish, who came in big ships.  They took the land from the natives and thought it was theirs.
With them we are pilgrims in this land.
Some of us look like the English, who also came in big ships and took the land from the natives and the Spanish, and thought it was theirs.
With them we are pilgrims in this land.
Some of us look like the Africans, who also came in big ships.  They did not choose to come, they were stolen from their land and had no freedom here.
With them we are pilgrims in this land.
Some of us look like Asians, South Americans, Middle-Easterners -- people from around the world who come across the oceans seeking refuge and sanctuary.  They have come fleeing famine, hardship, ethnic and political persecution, and war.
With them we are pilgrims in this land.
We grieve the wrongs inflicted on each other and pray your spirit of reconciliation and healing be present as we learn how to live together.  Help us to show compassion and work for justice.  Together with pilgrims past and pilgrims yet to come, we thank you, for who we are, and for what we are yet to become.  

The prayer is based in part on a Thanksgiving litany by Justo & Catherine Gonzalez, "In Accord: Let Us Worship." New York: Friendship Press, 1981, page 30.

Friday, November 20, 2015

God of the Refugee

Matthew 2: 13-14, the holy family receives divine instructions to flee Israel and seek refuge in Egypt--

"13 Now after [the wise men] had gone away, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to seek the child to destroy him.” 14 So he got up and took the child and his mother during the night and went away to Egypt."

When we welcome today's refugee into our home land, we welcome Christ.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Preparing for COP21

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), the annual meeting of countries to discuss climate change issues, will be held in Paris beginning Nov. 30, 2015.  In preparation for these negotiations, President Obama rejected TransCanada's permit request to build a tarsands pipeline through the Great Plains.  The President said in part,
"America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. Frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership and that is the biggest risk that we face. Not acting.
Today, we're continuing to lead by example, because ultimately, if we're gonna prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we're gonna have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.
As long as I'm president of the United States, America's gonna hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world.
And three weeks from now, I look forward to joining my fellow world leaders in Paris, where we've got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we've got while we still can."
The full transcript as well as a video of the President's announcement is available here.

Is stewardship of God's Creation part of your church's mission?  If so, how is your church living out that mission?  Here in Omaha, First UMC hosts a composting program and takes part in a community Vigil for the Planet that meets the first Thursday of the month.  COP21 is definitely on our radar.  We are praying for the delegates and hope this meeting leads to meaningful commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.