2018 Annual Lenten Carbon Fast

Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast

The 2018 daily email messages will run from Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018 through Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018.

Day 1   Contemplation

As Lent begins, the scripture heard round the world, accompanied by a visible reminder on our foreheads, is this: "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return."  The "ask" of Lent is best captured in the ancient Greek word metanoia: a change of mind or heart or purpose. In scripture, metanoia is most often translated as "repent."  John the Baptist says plainly that we need to repent - we need to completely turn our lives around - because the kingdom of God is near.

This is the context for the reflections and suggested actions of the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast. Creation is crying out to humanity: the time for turning has come. 


Let others know that for the next 7 weeks, you'll be reflecting on this daily message and considering each day's suggested action. You can multiply the global impact of the Lenten Carbon Fast many times by inviting others to join you. Share this link via Facebook, email and Twitter:  www.macucc.org/carbonfast.  Each day you will receive an invitation for contemplation and a suggested action - both exploring the theme of the week.

Day 2    Contemplation

Why must we turn?  Why does God call us to repent?  Traditionally, Christians undertake a personal Lenten discipline (e.g. giving something up for Lent).  But in addition to any personal redirection, humanity must urgently undertake what many are calling a great turning. Climate change now connects each and every one of us in a mutual web of interdependence.  So "the fast that is required of us" (Isaiah 58:6-9) is no longer limited to personal fasting.  Truly, we are all in this together.


We've all heard or read that this or that person "doesn't believe in climate change."  Because we all live on the same planet and share the same climate, the reality of this crisis is not a matter of belief.  Take a moment - or perhaps longer - and read the 2017 National Climate Assessment Executive Summary. Consider sharing the link to the report with members of your congregation, urging them to join you in reflecting on what your congregation might do.

Day 3  Contemplation

To face the truth about climate change requires a kind of honesty many can't handle.  Seven generations of humans have hugely improved the material aspirations of billions of people by making cheap energy plentiful.  What we can't handle is that we have also broken the continuity of creation - and without urgent action, these seven generations of humans will have wrecked creation for the foreseeable future.  Throughout Jesus' ministry, he urged people to face the truth - and taught that the truth would set us free.


Make a commitment that during Lent, you will watch the movie Merchants of Doubt or buy and read the book.  It's the story of how science itself has been hijacked by corporate interests who tarnish scientific consensus by introducing doubt in the public conversation.  You can also learn about - and then talk with others about - the fact that #ExxonKnew about the catastrophic consequences of burning fossil fuel as early as 1977.

Day 4  Contemplation

Facing the truth about climate change triggers grief.  Mary Evelyn Tucker describes this well in her introduction to Kathleen Dean Moore's profound book, Great Tide Rising: "We are dwelling in a period of mass extinction and climate change.  Loss is all around us.  We are engulfed by it and at the same time we are nearly blind to it.  Yet we feel in our bones some kind of unspeakable angst that will not leave us in the depths of night or even at daybreak when the birds greet the sunlight again.  This crushing feeling of unstoppable destruction is holding us back from acknowledging our grief."


Read Genesis 9:8-13. The covenant God makes after the flood is not only with Noah and his family, but with all creatures alive and yet to be born - all future generations.  And not only that.  In addition, God's covenant is with the earth.  Consider how you might share today's reflection on grief and covenant when you go to church tomorrow.

Day 5  Contemplation

However we may understand God, God knows what is true.  Thus, as God-fearing people, we align with what is true. Faithfulness to God is like having a life preserver in a sea of self-deception, or like having a compass when we are lost.  People of faith are people who are committed to seeking the truth and to overcoming the natural human tendency to dodge uncomfortable facts.  While climate change is most certainly an inconvenient truth, faithfulness to God will root out self-deception.


Make an announcement in Church today to share your personal commitment to the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast, and invite others to join you.  This is how we multiply impact.  And pray for the courage, wisdom and strategic sensibilities to engage many more from your congregation in this calling.  Climate change requires that we change everything, and to change everything, we need everyone.  

Day 6   Contemplation

People of faith seek to align their lives with God's call.  We frequently think of this as a personal calling.  But scripture makes clear that God calls communities as well.  Not only that, but God can call a whole generation to turn - to repent.  It turns out that we have been born into such a time as this (Esther 4:14) - a time in which God is calling a whole generation to turn.


Make a list - yours may be quite short or very long - of all the turns (i.e. choices to do things differently; to go down a different path) you have made in your life in response to your awareness that many of our choices either may harm or may restore creation.

Day 7    Contemplation

Bring to mind a voluntary choice you have freely made to constrain yourself from some action you very much wanted to take, but you realized would (even in some small way) harm creation.  How do you understand that choice?  How do you frame it?  Was it a sacrifice?  Do you regard it as befriending a new discipline or commitment?  Even in a small way, do you experience yourself as called by God to do this?


Avoid eating meat and cheese one day a week during the rest of lent (and beyond if you feel called).  If everyone in the U.S. did this, it would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road for an equivalent time.  Read The Meat Eater's Guide for a concise, yet detailed explanation and other suggestions.

Already doing this or feeling ambitious?  Eating locally, requires fewer fossil fuels to transport your food, eating seasonally  requires less energy for refrigeration, eating organically helps restore soil ecosystems that pull carbon out of the atmosphere.

Day 8  Contemplation

Turn for a moment to your home HVAC system.  Our home heating and air conditioning contribute a sizeable proportion of our carbon footprints (the hot water heater contributing 20-30% of home energy use all by itself).  For the remainder of the season of Lent, embrace a discipline to make yourself conscious of your use of oil, gas or electricity.  Simply scrutinizing your use is an important step.


Put on a sweater and turn down your thermostat to 65° (or lower if you can).  In warm climates, raise your air-conditioner thermostat 4° or up one setting.  If you normally take a bath, take a 5 minute shower instead, or take a “shipboard shower” and turn the water on only to rinse.

Day 9 Contemplation

Americans throw away 31% of food available for consumption.  Each year, the value of that food is over $165 billion.  Much of that food contributes to the 220 million tons of organic waste that end up in landfills each year (the second largest source of human-related methane emissions).  How can you turn your life to improve these trends?


Consider composting to keep unnecessary food waste and paper goods out of landfills (plus get incredible free fertilizer for your garden!).  Don't have the space to compost on your own?  Find a commercial composter in your area.  Reduce, reuse, recycle has been a popular slogan since 1970 and it is still spot on.  With very minor lifestyle changes you can reduce the demand for new energy intensive products, keep unnecessary waste out of landfills, and save your municipality money.

Day 10  Contemplation

By burning fossil fuel, our lives become less onerous and the things we want to do become more convenient.  Burning fossil fuel also floods the coastal cities, incinerates forests and villages, intensifies damaging storms, and in general wrecks the earth.  What if we traded some of the benefits of personal convenience for the assurance that we were making God's world a better place?  This can be done incrementally and personally as suggested the previous two days.  We can also turn together.  More on that tomorrow.


If you need to drive (most of us do) or fly, consider offsetting your carbon footprint: http://www.climatestewards.org/ .  Learn more about your personal carbon footprint by measuring it!  Prof. Katharine Hayhoe recommends stepping on the carbon scales here: http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator.

Day 11    Contemplation

Few people pay attention to how they might convince elected officials (state or federal) to enact laws and regulations that will reduce or eliminate carbon emissions.  Nevertheless, this is essential if we are to restore God's creation.  When elected officials hear from even a handful of constituents on a topic, they pay attention.  You have chosen to reduce your carbon emissions as a Lenten discipline; we know you care about the environment, but do your legislators?


Find out how your legislators are voting with regards to climate and environment.  Get their contact information and let them know how you feel (e.g. I support clean, renewable energy and green jobs).  Make sure to leave your address so they know you are a constituent.

Day 12    Contemplation

A turning many of us need to undertake is to include "the least of these among us" in our prayers.  We also need to recognize that because we all share one climate, one set of oceans, and a limited volume of ice caps and glaciers, we are all connected.  The actions of any of us that degrade our fragile life support system effect all of us.  But those who contribute least to climate change -- the poor, people of color, the disabled, those who are very young, and the elderly -- are the most vulnerable.  Matthew 25:31-46 instructs us to care for "the least of these," like we were caring for Jesus himself.  How can we do this better?


While you are in worship today ask your congregation to pray for those most affected by climate change: people of color, indigenous people, the poor, disabled, young, and elderly.  All of them are disproportionately impacted by climate change, in spite of the fact that they have done the least to cause it.

Day 13    Contemplation

Effective communication on climate change will motivate others to take appropriate action.  Sounds easy.  But in America - where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to discredit climate science - most people don't' want to hear about climate change much less take action based on the facts.  This week we'll focus on effective communication.  If John the Baptist had only said, "Repent!" all of Jerusalem would not have come to him.  He said, "Repent! And believe the Good News!" 


Can we tell the story about climate change in a way that is Good News?  Take a moment to watch this 3 minute video recently produced by ecoAmerica for the United Church of Christ: https://vimeo.com/234577047.  As the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III tells us, we need to turn love into action, “by any greens necessary."

Day 14  Contemplation

Katharine Hayhoe connects heart, hope and love for one another to climate change.  As a climate scientist and evangelical Christian, she models, explains and testifies to the importance of communicating effectively on climate change.  Reflect on what may hold you back from talking about climate change with friends, family, at work or in church.


Watch Katharine Hayhoe's conversation with George Marshall, author of Don't Even Think About It - Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change. Click here for the full 90 minute conversation. Or click here for the 6 minute excerpt. 

Day 15   Contemplation

The world's two most prominent Christian leaders - Pope Frances and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew - are both "all in" on climate change.  If you are either Catholic or Orthodox and are subscribing to this carbon fast, you likely have some awareness of this.  But few are aware that on September 1, 2017 these two leaders issued a joint a common declaration for a shared world on the World Day of Care for Creation.  After over 1,000 years of separation, this declaration attests to the importance of people of faith coming together to protect God's creation.


Click here and read the joint message from Pope Frances and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.  What common values do they identify?  Be prepared to mention this in conversations you may have with Catholic or Orthodox friends, including their urgent "appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and to support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation." 

Day 16  Contemplation

Having open conversation on climate change that focuses on common values can help humanity to move forward, together, on climate solutions. That's the conclusion of ecoAmerica's extensive research on climate communications.  Learn from their extensive experience testing what they've learned.  Click here and review their "talking points." 


After reading, re-reading, and praying about the 9 suggestions for opening discussion, practice a few of them with a friend.  Some of these openings may strike you as counter-intuitive. Let today's reflection expand your repertoire of engagement.

Day 17  Contemplation

Continuing yesterday's focus, look again at ecoAmerica's "talking points," but today, focus on their suggested responses to the current main arguments against shifting to clean energy or addressing climate change (found on page 3).  As you read each of the four exchanges, bring to mind someone you know who holds the position opposing the need to address climate change.  As much as possible, enter into that person's perspective. Reflect on why the counterpoint responds the way it does.


Having brought to mind a few people with whom a conversation on climate change would be challenging, continue to prepare for such a conversation, guided by this resource as well as prayer.  If and when the time comes, perhaps a turning will result.

Day 18  Contemplation

Nurses are the most trusted of all professions and many are among the best communicators.  Day after day, more and more nurses are recognizing that climate change impacts health in all kinds of ways. Watch this 4 minute video produced by the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments: https://vimeo.com/234510672.  As you watch, make some notes about what you learn, and also make some notes about how these nurses are approaching this important issue.


How might you incorporate both what you learned from this brief video as well as how these nurses talk about climate change - how might your incorporate both of these in your conversations in church tomorrow?

Day 19 Contemplation

This week's theme, "Turning Others - Communication," has barely begun to engage the challenge of communicating on this urgent - yet difficult topic.  Many congregations have found it effective to gather a study group for several weeks to discuss one or another important, but controversial topic.  When done well, congregations discover that they are more capable than they perhaps first thought to have intentional conversation on an important subject, even when they don't agree.  Reflect on your congregation.  Do you have experience with such a gathering?  Are there topics your congregation has avoided?  What might be possible?


Lent is a time when many congregations initiate a study group. Have a look at a just released book Climate Church, Climate World: www.climatechurch.org.  Each chapter ends with questions for discussion, and there is even an appendix that offers over 50 preaching suggestions drawn from each of the chapters.  Perhaps your congregation would benefit from convening a study group in April, with Earth Day as a centerpiece.  

Day 20  Contemplation

People came out to the desert to hear John the Baptist.  People followed Jesus everywhere he went.  Because we long to turn our lives towards God, we are eager to hear effective preaching - preaching that asks us to turn.  And such preaching prompts conversation.  In talking with someone else, we begin to realize we can actually change; we can pivot; we can turn towards God.


Keeping this in mind, consider the results of a recent Yale poll: 67% of Americans think global warming is happening, yet 65% of Americans rarely or never discuss it with family or friends - it's just too risky.  Shouldn't church be a safe enough place to engage the most crucial, determinative issue of our lives?  Lent is a time of fasting. In this case, what if we were to fast" from keeping silent?  

Day 21  Contemplation

On July 3, 2017, the national Synod of the UCC passed an Emergency Resolution by 97%. The resolution was a response to President Trump's announcement that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  The first moral imperative of the resolution was to urge clergy to preach on climate change.  This was the first time in anyone's memory that the national body of the UCC passed a resolution urging pastors to preach on a particular topic.


Take a moment to click here and read the 2 page resolution.  Click here to read a brief article that provides some perspective. Preaching matters. Preaching can open people to speak and share and take action.

Day 22 Contemplation

New England is the least religious region of America, and we're also the most reticent to discuss our faith.  Wherever you live, I'm sure you can benefit from the 24 page guide: Let's Lead on Climate.  Pages 12-17 focus on communicating in a faith context, but every page is full of helpful guidance.


Read at least a portion of Let's Lead on Climate and create an opportunity to talk about climate in a way that is informed by what you learned from what you read.

Day 23  Contemplation

Learn about Interfaith Power and Light's Faith Climate Action Week (formerly known as the Preach-In on Global Warming) taking place during Earth Week, April 14- 22, 2018.  Greenfaith also provides helpful worship resources.  And for a possible "jump start" - have a look at this incredible 3 minute video by climate scientist and evangelical Christian, Katharine Hayhoe: Katharine Hayhoe: Climate Change Evangelist.


Sign up for Faith Climate Action Week.  Have a look at dozens of  sample sermons and prayers. And make sure that your congregation will be focusing on climate for at least one Sunday in April

Day 24  Contemplation

For those who may be hesitant to ask their pastor to preach on climate (and for clergy who may be reluctant), here's some motivation from the recent PRRI/AAR Religion, Values, and Climate Change Survey: of people worshiping in white mainline Protestant churches, only 10% of them report that their pastor speaks of climate change "often," and only 20% report that their pastor discusses climate change "sometimes."   In black Protestant and in Hispanic Catholic congregations, people report that their pastor speaks about climate change much more frequently.


Make a commitment to share with your pastor the resources named in this week of the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast.

Day 25 Contemplation

The story that will be told about our generation has already been "written" by the combustion of fossil fuels - or what we have called "progress" unless... unless we face this fact and decide to write a new narrative.  Civil rights activists did just that 60 years ago; LGBTQ activists did just that over the past several decades.  Many churches were crucial in advancing both movements.  Many of our pews are filled with churchgoers who still need to be convinced that God's creation - our common home - is in jeopardy.  When church is faithful, it is speaking truth and awakening conscience.  While many church leaders are witnessing to this truth, this recent survey makes clear that God's creation is crying out for additional effective witnesses.  Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and many Protestant denominational leaders have provided outspoken leadership. It's time to bring this message to every congregation.


Shifting the narrative requires effective preaching.  In poll after poll, clergy are regarded by their congregations as trusted messengers, and when they speak out, it matters.  Urge your pastor to read ecoAmerica's resources to help pastors change the narrative on climate change.

Day 26 Contemplation

Download Faith and Climate Change, a 32 page guide to talking about climate change with other people of faith.  Share the link with your pastor.  It is a joint effort of Climate Outreach and GreenFaith.  Worldwide, more than 8 in 10 people identify with a faith.  Inspiring people to link their faith with God's call to protect creation is the principle moral challenge of our generation.


Recognizing that we're all in this together, in your private prayers, lift those millions of people whose lives have already been overturned by climate change.  And if your church invites prayers during worship, be sure to lift them up in worship too. 

Day 26  Contemplation

Download Faith and Climate Change, a 32 page guide to talking about climate change with other people of faith.  Share the link with your pastor.  It is a joint effort of Climate Outreach and GreenFaith.  Worldwide, more than 8 in 10 people identify with a faith.  Inspiring people to link their faith with God's call to protect creation is the principle moral challenge of our generation.


Recognizing that we're all in this together, in your private prayers, lift those millions of people whose lives have already been overturned by climate change.  And if your church invites prayers during worship, be sure to lift them up in worship too. 

Day 27 Contemplation

Many Christians are reluctant when it comes to "bearing witness."  They associate this phrase with experiences they have had being cornered by an impassioned believer who wants to share their faith.  But if our generation is to make the changes we must, we will need to bring others - many, many others - along.  That's an alternative understanding of what it means to "bear witness" - to bring others along.  We need to offer many entry points.  This week we will explore several possible approaches which might prompt others to turn.


You, or someone else in your congregation, may have installed solar panels, or may have an electric car, or may have gone from two cars to one, or may write an email or letter to your congressional representative at least once per week.  If your worship service already includes a regular opportunity for such people to share what they've done and encourage others to do likewise, congratulations!  If not, begin the process to include such witness regularly in your worship service.

Day 28    Contemplation

"Make a promise to the future."  That's the foundation of DEAR TOMORROW.  The DearTomorrow project was built upon a simple idea: we must talk about climate change from a place of love.  With this in mind, the founders created a platform for people to share stories with their friends and family about why they care about climate change.  Have a look at their web site.  Allow time to view some of the messages or read several of the letters-to-the-future posted there. 


Consider initiating a DearTomorrow project in your congregation.  Several congregations have already done so.  On the  Dear Tomorrow website you'll find tool kits for writing a letter, making a video, and taking a photo-promise.  Churches have impressed newcomers by creating bulletin boards with photos from the project.  For many, settling down to create a promise to the future prompts an interior turn.  It provides a profound entry-point to further action and deeper commitment.

Day 29  Contemplation

Many who are concerned about the environment are unaware that last year, 197 land and environmental defenders were murdered.  For example, defending national parks continues to be an incredibly dangerous job, with 21 recorded deaths linked to poaching.  Take a moment to read this important article.


Consider having your congregation acquire a large world map that you can put on the floor of the narthex or on the floor in the back of the church.  Next to it, place a table with lots of votive candles.  Invite people, as they enter the church, to bring to mind a place in the world they are praying for, and place a candle on that spot on the map. (The candles don't need to be lit if there is a concern for fire.)  This will increase everyone's awareness of how connected the congregation is with others throughout the world.

Day 30  Contemplation

One of the ways to have the greatest impact in protecting God's creation is to assure that policies, regulations and laws that protect creation's balance are enacted.  The only way to assure that is to elect representatives who will do so.  And the only way to do that is to vote.  Research done by the Environmental Voter Project shows that a huge percentage of people who care enormously about creation don't vote.  And the best way to change that is to give those people an opportunity to promise to vote.


First, click here and sign the pledge to vote in every election.  Then, gather a group in your congregation to discuss the possibility of partnering with the Environmental Voter Project and creating some "voter promise cards."  Prior to the next election, as part of a worship service connecting civic responsibility and love of God's creation, you could distribute these cards to the congregation and invite people to sign them and put them in the offering plate so that the whole congregation could pray over them.

Day 31  Contemplation

Not long ago, Emma Brewer-Wallin suggested to me that we might train some disciples in the art of disruptive prayer.  For me, even as a Christian and climate activist, that was a new idea.  Then I came across a column by Chuck Redfern in which he invokes the same concept and quotes Karl Barth, "To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."  It reminded me of an unexpected quote from Henri Nouwen my friend Fred Small once shared.  Prayer is "a dangerous & subversive act that challenge[s] the very structures of the world."


How might you and some other members of your congregation join together in an act of disruptive prayer and witness on behalf of protecting God's creation?  Some national religious climate leaders recently did this in front of the EPA.  Disruptive prayer can take so many forms… the opportunities are endless!

Day 32  Contemplation

You cannot turn your congregation alone.  Partnerships are essential.  Increasingly, when it comes to caring for and protecting God's creation, congregations are partnering with other organizations and initiatives.  Many congregations host meetings of and participate in activities organized by local chapters of 350.org, Sierra Club, Mothers Out Front.  Have a look and see if there's one near you.


A new initiative that many congregations would find suitable is just beginning.  It's called Greying Green and it's the brainchild of Mick Smyer.  Many congregations would find the tools Mick is developing to engage older Americans in climate change very helpful.

Day 33   Contemplation

Among the many ways to bear witness on behalf of God's great gift of creation, civil disobedience is perhaps the least popular, most demanding, and (ironically) offers the greatest freedom.  Take time to read the extraordinary NY Times account of 5 activists known as the Valve Turners in a recent article entitled, "I'm just more afraid of Climate Change than I am of Prison" by Michelle Nijhuis.


In church today, pray for the valve turners, and for all who have responded to the call to protect God's creation by engaging in civil disobedience.  And talk with at least one person about the article, and what struck you most from their story.

Day 34     Contemplation

This week we will focus on turning in time... hopefully, just in time. How long has humanity known about climate change?  In the 1850s John Tyndall first suggested that the emission of CO2 could create a greenhouse effect-trapping the sun's energy and heating up the earth's climate.  In 1938, Guy Stewart Callendar demonstrated that global land temperatures had increased over the previous 50 years.  On November 5, 1965, scientists warned then President Lyndon Johnson of the risks associated with the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere.  In 1975 one of those scientists, Wallace S. Broecker, published a paper titled "Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?"  The 50 year projections he offered in that paper have proved to be remarkably accurate.  In June 1988, climate scientist James Hansen testified before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  His testimony caught the attention of a young writer, Bill McKibben, who published the first book on climate change - The End of Nature - in 1989.


Engage in a conversation about climate change today.  Share with that person when you first heard about climate change, and ask them when they first heard.  If possible, find a way to share with them what you learned from today’s message.

Day 35   Contemplation

In 1990, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first report and called for a global treaty.  When this group met for the 21st time in December 2015 in Paris (COP21), 191 countries signed the Paris Climate Accord.  Some regarded the agreement as a "spiritual miracle."  Others report that "the Paris agreement was far from responding to the real challenge of Climate Change.  However, it should not be considered as a failure."  Since then, the current President of the United States has pledged to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement.  One of the many gifts people of faith can bring to this context is our capacity to deal with nuance - our ability to bring hope to the most ambiguous situation.


At least for a day, hold in your heart the full recognition of the catastrophe brought about by 7 generations of what humans currently call "progress" AND the full embrace of hope - hope that leads to thanksgiving that you have been given the opportunity to bear witness in a time such as this.  What will your witness be?

Day 36 Contemplation

One of the more remarkable outcomes of COP21 was the embrace of the more ambitious goal of staying below a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Prior to this agreement, the only agreed upon limit had been an increase of 2 degrees Celsius.  But here's the rub: if all the countries that submitted plans for CO2 reduction were to fully carry out their plans, the temperature would rise between 2.7 -3.5 degrees Celsius.  Furthermore, the agreement encourages countries to resubmit their voluntary reductions in three years and start reducing by 2020.


Procrastination.  We all do it.  Identify something that truly matters that you have set aside, or delayed, or ignored...  And today, take action.  Get it done.  Overcome procrastination.

Day 37  Contemplation

"Money talks."  Money and urgency are linked in most people's lives.  And yet, when the UCC national Synod became the first national body and first denomination to vote to divest from fossil fuel holdings in 2013, no one imagined that four and one half years later, investment funds worth over six trillion dollars would drop their fossil fuel stocks.  $6,000,000,000,000 of invested funds that no longer include fossil fuel stocks is a good start - a sign that the divestment movement is making progress in its goal of revoking the moral license these companies need to carry out business as usual.


Educate yourself about divesting from fossil fuels.   Read this guide to divesting in which Bill McKibben writes in the foreword, "Divestment is one of the strongest, most immediate forms of engagement we can take to encourage systemic change from the bottom up.”

Day 38  Contemplation

Just as the Church (and individuals) can make a statement by divesting our capital, we can make a statement by investing our capital.  By investing in energy efficiency, renewable power generation, storage, and distribution, sustainable agriculture, and other worthy causes you can help bring to fruition the technological solutions our world desperately needs.  Build your financial house on a firm moral foundation (cf. Luke 6:48).


After yesterday and today you'll hopefully think prayerfully about divestment and reinvestment .  When you are done contemplating, take action.  Make sure your finances and those of your church  represent your values.

Day 40  Contemplation

Let's refresh our understanding of Palm Sunday.  Jesus' Palm Sunday procession was first and foremost a protest against the Roman Empire.  In their important book The Last Week , public theologians Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan point out that it was not coincidental that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey just as Pontius Pilate arrived with his chariots and warhorses.  One procession proclaimed the might and power of the Emperor, while the other celebrated a radically different kind of king.   As Brooks Berndt, UCC Minister for Environmental Justice, points out, "ultimately, destruction of the environment is yet another consequence of empire.  It is another form of violence from those who seek to conquer, rule, and exploit."  And so it is that Palm Sunday "calls into question the social and economic order of our society."

Today's reflection is borrowed from "The Pollinator," a digital platform of the UCC for the sharing of ideas and inspiration related to environmental ministries. Its focus is the building of a faith-filled and faith-rooted movement for the care of creation. Sign up to receive the Pollinator newsletter with regular updates from UCC Minister for Environmental Justice, Rev. Brooks Berndt.

Day 41 Contemplation

As soon as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he overturned the tables of the money lenders.  It was a fearless demonstration that business as usual was no longer admissible.  Living as we are 2000 years later, we recognize that our "business as usual" practice of wrecking creation by burning fossil fuel that costs a small fraction of its true price must be overturned.  How can we follow Jesus in our own day to facilitate the transformation for which all of creation is groaning?


Following Jesus into Jerusalem will likely demand of us everything.  How does this help us to figure out what God is calling us to do with our discipleship as all of creation is threatened?  Stay awake - be alert - to th e witness God is calling you to make in the days and weeks ahead.

Day 42 Contemplation

Last week, Boston was hit with it's fourth Nor'easter in two weeks - leaving the highest March snowfall in 200 years of record keeping. This is but one example of unprecedented extreme weather that signals that humanity has broken the continuity of creation.  On a Sunday afternoon ten days ago, people filled the pews of a UCC church in Falmouth on Cape Cod to hear climate scientists from Woods Hole followed by a theological reflection and call to action.  The church must play a critical role as a harbinger of hope as humanity swings on the hinge of history.


What role might your church play in helping make your town more resilient?  Surely building resilience is one manifestation of hope.  There was a time - not long ago - when America had a Chief Resilience Officer.  Read Grist's interview of Harriet Tregoning and see if your church can apply some of what she says as you provide your town with leadership.

Day 43    Contemplation

Throughout history, when difficult societal changes were needed, individuals like Jesus, Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry David Thoreau and the Apostles Peter and Paul have sought to awaken the lawmakers by engaging in civil disobedience.  Between Christ's Resurrection and their deaths, Peter and Paul actually spent more time in jail than out.  Given the disordered world we live in, is it time to make civil disobedience a normative expression of Christian discipleship?  Might this be the "fast" that is required of those who would be faithful in our generation?


Last month the New York Times Magazine covered the actions of five courageous activists known as the Valve Turners in an article entitled, I'm Just More Afraid of Climate Change Than I Am of Prisons .  Take time to read this excellent article, and return to the question that began this Lenten series: What is the fast that God is asking you to make?

Day 44



On Maundy Thursday Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment.  As we near the conclusion of this year's Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast, what new commandment do you believe humanity needs?  On this night of the Last Supper, contemplate Jesus' sacrifice for us and prayerfully consider what sacrifices you're willing to make to in order to ensure that people have a voice in determining the future of God's creation.


Let today's contemplation lead to a commitment to at least one specific, concrete sacrifice - and tell at least one other person why this expression of discipleship is important for you to undertake.

Day 45



Jesus' ministry and passion were a monumental demonstration of God's love for God's people, and God's desire that we love one another and seek justice for all of God's children.  Justice for the poor and care for the earth are inseparable.  No religious leader has been more clear on this point than Pope Francis in his recent Encyclical.   Here's an article about how poverty is caused by environmental exploitation and degradation.


It's Good Friday.  Is there some simple action you can take today to show your commitment to care for the poor AND care for the earth?

Day 46



Reflect on all you have read and thought about in this spiritual Lenten exercise, and all the actions you have taken.  Give thanks to God for your carbon fasting experience and pray that God may sustain you in your continuing effort to be a steward of God's creation and future generations.


Make a list - write it down - of what you will continue to do on an ongoing basis.

Day 47

Jesus' triumph over death reminds us that although we are at a critical point in our journey, one that carries the very real risk of the extinction of life on earth, hope for resurrection and new life abounds.

Let our contemplation and our action merge as we celebrate the living Jesus and care for God's creation

Thank you for making this, the sixth year of the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast, a great success.  Click here to make a donation to the New England Regional Environmental Ministries who sponsor this effort.


We hope you have found these messages thought provoking, useful, and spiritually meaningful.  It is our hope that you will continue to incorporate into your daily life as many of these and other environmental-spiritual practices as possible.  Thank you for your participation and for your concern and determination to ensure that God's creation will remain viable and miraculous for generations to come.

© Donald Rambadt 2014