2015 Annual Lenten Carbon Fast

cabon fast 2015 header

Day 1- Ash Wednesday --What you can do today

  What You Can Do Today


Thank you for responding to creation's cry and Christ's lament by engaging in this Lenten discipline with thousands of others.  In the coming days, you'll be given dozens of opportunities to reduce your personal carbon footprint, even as you expand your understanding of our generation's challenge.  You can multiply the global impact many times by committing yourself - today - to share with others that you're doing this discipline.  Invite them to join you.  On this critical day of self-examination, examine whatever may hold you back from sharing your commitment and urging others to join you.  And then share this link via Facebook, email and Twitter:  www.macucc.org/carbonfast   


   With Your Church


Attentive to God's desires, we choose a fast.  In Isaiah, the sentinel reminds us that the fast we are called to choose involves loosening the bonds of injustice, undoing the thongs of the yoke, letting the oppressed go free, breaking every yoke, sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, covering them, and not hiding yourself from your own kin.  From now until our carbon fast concludes, as you learn about the consequences of climate change, keep these specifics in mind.

Just convening a group at your congregation may be quite a challenge.  Many regard climate as a "political issue" rather than a key measure of our discipleship.  What can you do today to assure that on Sunday, you and others from your congregation will gather to begin a weekly conversation during Lent that is informed by these daily reflections?  "Is this not the fast that I require of you?"

Day 2- What you can do today


There is a fast required of me - and there is a fast required of us - and they are connected.  Bill McKibben's life testifies to how a writer and teacher chose to fast from the usual life of an academic.  Driven by his love of creation, he has moved from being a conscientious private citizen to becoming one of the most visible public advocates in the world.  The peril engulfing creation is not someone else's problem.  It's up to our generation.  How might you move from private conscience to public witness?  As President Obama considers vetoing and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, read Bill Moyers' brief account, and watch his 2 minute interview of Bill McKibben for inspiration as you consider how God is calling you: http://bit.ly/1DyoHWG

Day 3- What you can do today

What IS the fast that is required of YOU?  Fasting for climate justice is a growing movement.  Fast for the climate http://fastfortheclimate.org/en/ attracted international participation and attention in the run up to the UN climate talks in December 2014.  Watching South Africa's leading world music band Desert Rose will inspire you to discern your commitment.  Follow @FastForClimate and the Global Catholic Climate Movement as you discern - your calling.

Day 4- What you can do today

Not since the civil rights movement has America seen so strong a public witness as the protests of the past four years against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Click here to check out 350.org's interactive map with photos from hundreds of #noKXL actions from the past four years. And then read Naomi Klein’s article from the December issue of The Nation: 4 Reasons Keystone Really Matters.

Day 5- What you can do today

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- What you can do today

God brings Abraham into "everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendents." (Genesis 17:7)  This week, we practice our faith as we honor God's covenant of sustainability with future generations through our energy choices.

See this infographic, and today begin a habit of unplugging devices not in use (think of it as a Sabbath).  Unplug chargers, coffee makers, space heaters and other appliances and devices when not in use.  8% Of electricity consumed at home is from "vampire" appliances which siphon energy even when they're not in use.  (No garlic necessary, just unplug!)

Today, find your state on the Solutions Project , an interactive website which details what 100% renewable energy looks like in each state. Clean energy is "renewable" in more than one sense - it can invigorate communities as well.  Watch a video about Van Wan county in Ohio and wind turbines or read about other communities strengthening by choosing clean energy as well.  This week, brainstorm how your congregation might live into a renewable future.

Day 7- What you can do today

Put on a sweater and turn down your thermostat to 65° when people are home and active and 55°- 58° at night as well as when no one is home.  In warm climates, raise your air-conditioner thermostat 4° or up one setting.  Home heating and air-conditioning are responsible for a large portion of our carbon footprint.  For more on air-conditioning and alternatives, check out Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)."Let there be light in o

"Let there be light" in our churches such that it affirms the goodness of God's creation.  One church in Colorado replaced the 20-watt incandescent bulbs in their exit signs with LEDs and saved about $360 a year while eliminating 4000 kilowatt hours of polluting electricity usage.  For information on switching from incandescent to high efficiency fluorescent or LED lighting at a discount, go here.  For detailed info on all bulb alternatives, please visit Ask Umbra.  Did you know that utility-sponsored programs may reimburse you up to 70% of the cost of making the switch?u

Day 8- What you can do today


The Gospel "good news" for creation includes renewables - see how 2014 was a great year for renewable energy.  Check out this infographic on the jobs investing in green energy can bring.  Read more about solar records in Germany, and wind power records in Germany and the UK.  See one interesting renewable energy project, under experimentation in Portland, Oregon here.   Become part of the drive  for green energy.   Today, call your legislator to voice your support for green energy and green jobs. In John's Gospel, Jesus heals a blind man by putting mud on his eyes.  Are you blind to the ut


In John's Gospel, Jesus heals a blind man by putting mud on his eyes.  Are you blind to the utility costs of your church?  Keep track of your costs and the carbon footprint of your building by using Mass. Interfaith Power and Light's Utility Use and Cost Spreadsheet.  MIP&L members have lowered their carbon footprints by as much as 70% and utility bills by as much as 65%, realizing savings in excess of $20,000 per year.  Or, conduct an energy audit with your local utility company. (Find out more from Energy Star.)

Day 9- What you can do today


The hot water heater is the dirtiest carbon emitter in a house - 20% to 30% of energy use.  In baptism, we affirm the preciousness of water as receive God's grace.  Continue this affirmation by taking a shower instead of a bath, and try to limit your shower to less than 5 minutes. Today take a "shipboard shower" - turn the water on only to rinse.  Look into getting a more efficient shower with a "low-flow" shower head.  An average bath uses 40-60 gallons of water; an average shower 17 gallons; a shipboard shower less than 5 gallons. Ask your electricity and gas suppliers if they have a green or renewable energy plan.  Consider the feasibility of sw

Day 10- What you can do today


Fireplaces - we love them and we want to use them.  However, as Grist's "Ask Umbra" says, "the fireplace accounts for 14 percent of air lost out of a home - more than the windows.  So before we get all excited about window glazing, it pays to stop up the chimney."  If you do not use the fireplace frequently, consider stopping up your fireplace.

Which organizations or groups in your town could benefit from using space in your church building?  Would you consider inviting another congregation to use your church or have your own congregation worship in another church building?  Could the "green team" of your church talk with the building committee about common concerns?  While church buildings are often beloved they are also often a millstone around the neck of a shrunken membership.  The rising costs of heating a church are but one reason congregations should be more conscientious in using their building and - more deeply - should examine their conscience as to whether or not to retain a building at all.

Day 11- What you can do today


This is a big ask - consider avoiding flying for your next vacation.  If traveling as a family, driving is almost always a better option, particularly when taking into account "radiative forcing" - the effect of emitting carbon and other pollutants in the upper atmosphere.  Could you try visiting somewhere close, or even taking a "staycation" to more deeply appreciate the ways in which your own region is a "land flowing with milk and honey"?  Avoiding large travel planning might even feel more genuinely restful.

The more we get into solar the better it gets.  Did you know that every time solar doubles in production, its cost goes down 20%?  Green jobs are on the horizon, there are now twice as many jobs in solar as in coal.  Read this report learn how going solar is a good investment (especially if you live near New York or Boston!).  Thanks to a collaboration with MIP&L, SunBug has options for churches in Massachusetts.  Solar panels are a green way for your church to let its lamp shine to the world! 

Day 12- What you can do today


Today, keep your highway driving speed between 55 and 60 mph.  For most vehicles, 55 mph is the most fuel efficient highway speed and will save you up to 20-30% in fuel costs compared to driving at 75 mph.  Idle no more.  If you have to stop for more than 10 seconds, you will save gas and reduce emissions by turning off your engine.

Make an announcement today at church. Invite the fellow members of your congregation to remove one light bulb from their home, and live without it for the rest of Lent, as a reminder that Jesus tells the crowd to "deny themselves" as they follow him (Mark 8:34).

Announce that next Sunday for the Carbon Fast, members of the congregation are invited to arrive at worship in the most climate-sound way possible.  Walk or take public transit, if able, or carpool as a last resort.  Challenge your congregation to see how few cars can be used to get your congregation to church next Sunday.  


Day 13- What you can do today

EATING, SHOPPING, GROWING... TREADING MORE LIGHTLY  Cultivating simplicity is essential to a low carbon life. Fasting from carbon requires us to address more than our driving habits and electricity usage, as everything we purchase involves emissions in its production and distribution. Today, see a more complete picture of your carbon footprint through this fun and interactive carbon calculator. Then come up with one way that you personally can reduce your carbon footprint.

This week will focus on a proper relationship with food and the land as a means of simplifying our lives and walking closer to God.  As the books of the Hebrew Bible make clear time and time again, the land is one of God's most precious gifts.  Is your church using its land to celebrate God's creation?  Consider starting a garden at your church, at any scale.  You could invite other faith groups to take part, or open up the garden to your neighboring community.  Download a Cool Harvest kit from Interfaith Power & Light for tips. 

Day 14- What you can do today

According to Genesis 2, God's original vocation for humankind is that of gardener - and to keep watch (shomer) over the land.

Many conventional fertilizers are derived from fossil fuels. Eating organically-farmed food, on the other hand, helps restore soil ecosystems that pull carbon out of the atmosphere.  Watch this video or read this short article.  Eat locally as this requires fewer fossil fuels to haul your produce, and seasonally, as it requires less energy for refrigeration.  Use local farms and local farmers’ markets where possible - see http://www.nofa.org/,  http://theorganicfoodguide.com/ and  http://www.massfarmersmarkets.org/

Ordinary as it is, recycling is essential as a practice of mindful simplicity to reduce emissions.  (Did you know that one aluminum can newly processed from bauxite uses 20 times the energy as a recycled can?)  Does your church recycle, and are the bins placed so that they are used?  

Day 15- What you can do today

EATING, SHOPPING, GROWING... TREADING MORE LIGHTLY   Conspicuous consumption - long advocated as a positive American value - certainly runs counter to any Lenten discipline.  This week in the lectionary, Jesus explains to the crowd, "Those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it." (Mark 8:35)  What might we have to gain by losing some of our attachment to material goods?  This week, when you feel the impulse to buy something, pause to consider whether it is necessary, and if so, whether there is a less resource-intensive way to obtain it, such as buying used. 

  Food is God's love made edible.  The Eucharist, or Communion, is a sacrament that every branch of Christianity holds with special regard.  Speak with your pastor so that your church uses communion bread and wine that are produced in a way that honors God's creative work.  Also, as Spring approaches, have church members sign up to bring flowers from their gardens, or plan to grow some flowers on the church property.  This can not only save money and use fewer fossil fuels, but can make worship more meaningful (make sure to testify in worship if your church does this!)  

Day 16- What you can do today

EATING, SHOPPING, GROWING... TREADING MORE LIGHTLY    Just as Christ comes back from the tomb to life, the Earth moves from the cold of winter to the abundance of spring.  The appearance of daffodils and other flowers around Easter speak to the wonder of "God, who makes things grow." (1 Corinthians 3:7b)  Now through April is the perfect time to plant some seeds indoors.  Before the Carbon Fast ends, start some seedlings indoors, and witness God’s love in action! 

As Gandhi, the self-identifying disciple of Tolstoy's Christian nonviolence, stated, we must "live more simply, so that others may simply live."  Join over 20,000,000 people and watch - on your own and with your church - Anne Leonard's 20 minute movie "The Story of Stuff".  How can you bring the suggestions from this film into the life of your church?

 Reminder: Are church members trying to get to worship in the most ecologically conscious way possible this Sunday?

Day 17- What you can do today

Compost food waste to reduce the rubbish destined for landfill sites.  The average US household produces about 4.5 pounds of solid waste per day - 9 pounds of unnecessary greenhouse gases if it ends up in a landfill.  Consider  buying or making a composter.  And, check out Compost Now, a Raleigh-based company that does compost pickup with an option for soil return.  Enter your zip code on their homepage to see if this is an option for your area.

This Sunday, talk to the children's education minister at your church.  Ask them to consider a Sunday School lesson where children plant seeds in cups to learn about God's abundance in creation and the miracles present in the everyday.  Nourish the seeds over several weeks in the church's reception hall.  When the season is right, have an outdoor Sunday School lesson where children plant their own seedlings.

Day 18- What you can do today


In the Ten Commandments, God pronounces a Sabbath not only for humans, but for livestock as well (Exodus 20:10).

Don't eat any meat today, and see if you can take a break from meat one day a week for the duration of Lent.  It's been estimated that if Americans were to reduce our meat consumption by 20%, it would be the equivalent of all Americans switching from a standard sedan to a Prius.  It takes 2,500 gallons of water and a dozen pounds of grain to make one pound of beef for your table, generating more CO2 than the average European car driving 70 miles.  Click here for a concise report of how to tailor our choices when it comes to eating animals to preserve the planet for future generations. 

Jesus had more to say about money and material possessions than he said about any other topic except the Kingdom of God.  If possible, speak with your pastor about the possibility of him or her preaching a sermon on simplicity, simple living, frugality, conspicuous consumption or some related theme.  

Day 19- What you can do today


"Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy...  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day." (Exodus 20:8,11a)

One day this upcoming week, try to take a Sabbath from consumerism - avoid buying anything.  Challenge yourself to see if you can find at least half an hour to "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10a)  Take a Sabbath from modern life and grow closer to God by contemplating God's continual creative work in our midst.  Reflect, how might your life might be different if you believed that spiritual progress was at the center of a life of meaning, rather than material progress?

"Future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn." (Psalm 22:30b-31a)

Testify in your church (you may be familiar with different language, such as "bear witness", or "make an announcement") about how you and others chose to come to church more efficiently and how it worked out.  Have everyone who got to church more efficiently today stand up.  Think of this as a collective prayer for the future we wish to leave.  Consider - is this feasible every week? 

Day 20- What you can do today


urches such that it affirms the goodness of God's creation.  One church in Colorado replaced the 20-watt 

A House Built on Solid Rock:  Divesting and Reinvesting

Reducing our carbon footprint - fasting from carbon - must be magnified many times to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.  This week will focus on divesting from fossil fuels, a moral action and the best political tool we have to break the yoke of fossil fuels, while also providing further tips for shrinking your footprint. For an introduction to divestment, see this year’s Global Divestment Day video, or watch "$hift", a 13 minute film that captures the significance, excitement, and infectious hope of this new movement. 

 In less than three years, the worldwide movement to divest from fossil fuel companies has grown to include over 500 colleges, universities, towns, cities, states and yes, even denominations - http://gofossilfree.org/.  Is your church ready to become a part?  Read the foundational article of the divestment movement, Bill McKibben's iconic "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math."  Share this with members of your congregation.

Day 21- What you can do today

A House Built on Solid Rock:  Divesting and Reinvesting  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth... but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." (Matthew 6:19a,20a)  Sometimes, however, we might not have to choose!  Read the Rolling Stone article The Logic of Divestment,” which addresses how it is "becoming increasingly clear that the right thing to do is also the smart thing to do," financially. 

An effective divestment conversation at your church will engage and build relationships with your investments committee. This Aperio Group report brings data to questions about the risk of a carbon-free portfolio.  Commit to speak with someone on your divestment committee about divesting.  (See this upcoming Saturday’s post for more specifics.)

Day 22- What you can do today
A House Built on Solid Rock:  Divesting and Reinvesting 

Remember, disposable plastics are made from fossil fuels.  Say no to disposable water bottles and drink tap water.  Buy a refillable washable bottle to use instead. More than 150 billion liters of bottled water are sold worldwide every year.  This contributes significantly to landfill and transport emissions.  To learn more about the impacts of bottled water, please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se12y9hSOM0 and http://www.allaboutwater.org/environment.html.  

On July 1, 2013 the United Church of Christ became the first national body and first religious denomination to vote to divest from fossil fuel companies.  Read about it on the National UCC and  MACUCC websites.  Listen to this radio interview of the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal discussing the UCC's vote to divest.  And, see how the MACUCC is trying to bring some lighthearted rejoicing to a serious conversation

Day 23- What you can do today

A House Built on Solid Rock:  Divesting and Reinvesting 

Is your financial house built on a firm moral foundation (cf. Luke 6:48)?  Trillium Asset Management, Green Century Funds and 350.org have teamed up to write this comprehensive 28 page guide, "Extracting Fossil Fuels from Your Portfolio: A Guide to Personal Divestment and Reinvestment."   The material is excellent, particularly the “ even Pillars of Reinvestment." 

Reduce consumption by addressing your church's use of a different sludge-like brown fuel - coffee.  Opt for mugs instead of disposable cups during your church's fellowship hour.  If you have convened a Carbon Fast group, volunteer to wash the mugs for several Sundays after fellowship, and then have a sign-up for future weeks, if this goes well.

Day 24- What you can do today

A House Built on Solid Rock:  Divesting and Reinvesting 

More and more Christians are responding to Jesus' statement, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:34)  Jim Wallis writes about  Sojourners' decision to divest as a form of repentance or "turning around," a particularly Lenten discipline.  See Sojo's divestment series. 

Last week in the lectionary, Jesus cast the moneychangers out of the temple - could divesting from fossil fuels be the modern equivalent?  Bright Now has a superb paper on the morality of fossil fuel investment from a Christian perspective, and a series of individual interviews.  GreenFaith.org is the best central source for faith and divestment.  Some denominational divestment initiatives: Fossil Free PCUSA; Fossil Free Friends (Quaker); Unitarian Universalists for Fossil Fuel Divestment and Sustainable Reinvestment (UU Divest);  Fossil Free UMC (Methodist) and the soon-to-be-launched FossilFreeUCC.org.

Day 25- What you can do today

A House Built on Solid Rock:  Divesting and Reinvesting 

On your next grocery store run, see if you can buy nothing that is individually wrapped to reduce packaging.  Get a fabric or reusable bag for shopping - they usually run just a few dollars.  Save your produce bags and reuse them next week, reducing the fossil fuels needed to manufacture the bags each time.

Curious about fossil free funds?  Following the UCC resolution to divest, United Church Funds launched the Beyond Fossil Fuels fund in November, an institutional investment fund available to all churches, regardless of denomination!  And, take a look at this  Sustainable and Responsible mutual fund chart from Bloomberg.  (Select the "Screening & Advocacy" tab.  Those funds with an * do not invest in companies that extract or produce fossil fuels.)

Day 26 - What you can do today

Could your church be ready to divest?  350.org has a sample divestment resolution.  If you have a Lenten discussion group, consider together what the next steps could be, or personally consider what step you will take towards having this conversation in your church. 

If your church does divest, don't be bashful!  "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:15)  Reach out to local papers and your regional denominational leaders. Celebrate the parting of the oil-slick Red Sea!

Day 27 - What you can do today

In A Climate Crisis World, What is the Church For?

Scripture and testimony are powerful because they use stories to bring us into God's wish.  This week explores individuals and projects in faith and climate to inspire us to rise up to the climate challenge.  These stories are coupled with incremental changes we can incorporate to begin living into God's wish for a sustainable future.  Read about one church putting the “protest" back in "protestant."

In each new era, we read scripture with fresh eyes, breaking open the Word to understand modern crises from a Christian perspective. Jesus prompts the crowd, "You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky.  How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?" (Luke 12:56), words that bear profound meaning in an era of accelerating climate crisis and continued denial.  With your discussion group or on your own, find another passage from scripture that speaks to you about an aspect of climate change (you might find that it's easier than you expect!).

Day 28 - What you can do today

Listen to this conference call between the Citizens Climate Lobby and Dan Misleh of the Catholic Climate Covenant. Consider exploring the CCC's website here, and take their Francis Pledge.  Hear the Pope speak on agriculture and climate change in a clip from Vatican Radio in anticipation of his upcoming encyclical. 

Remember your hot water heater represents about 20-30% of the carbon emissions of a home, the biggest user of energy.  Consider setting your hot water thermostat to 120°F.  Insulate your hot water tank with an insulation jacket if available for your system. Arrange for your boiler to be serviced so it runs more efficiently.  If your boiler needs to be replaced, learn all you can about energy efficiency.  House-energy.com is one great resource.  Find out - is your church's hot water boiler insulated?

Day 29 - What you can do today
Save energy in the kitchen by cooking food in a microwave, which uses 50-70% less energythan a conventional oven.  When you need to cook in a pan on the stove, use a lid to preserve heat, which will also cook your food faster.  Cook double portions and freeze what you don't eat.  And, put this on your calendar: this year's Earth Hour takes place on Saturday, March 28th.  Millions of people around the globe will turn off their lights for one hour, beginning at 8:30 pm.  For more information, see www.earthhour.org/. 

Have you and your church join the upcoming "Climate Change Crisis" webinar from the Episcopal Church on March 24 at 2pm EST!  The webinar will feature a keynote address by Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, followed by a panel on the Regional Impact of Climate Change, and another on Reclaiming Climate Change as a Moral Issue.  The webinar will kick off the 30 Days of Action leading up to Earth Day.  And see this year's Earth Day Sunday resource from Creation Justice- Sustainable Food in a Changing Climate.   

Day 30 - What you can do today

In a world where the richest 20% own 80% of the wealth, contributing the most to climate change but impacted the least, Jesus' words in Luke 12:48 ring loud, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded."  Tim de Christopher is one witness who rises to this call through his creative action -  watch the Bill Moyers episode here.  Host a party with friends and screen Bidder 70, a powerful testimony of this modern Henry David Thoreau.  Tim now attends Harvard Divinity School as a UU. 

Bishop Desmond Tutu has become a leading Christian voice on climate change, and a major  champion of fossil fuel divestment, for its success in ending apartheid. The day after the UCC National Synod voted to divest, Bishop Desmond Tutu sent this email: "Congratulations and thank you for your leadership. We hope others will follow your splendid example. God bless you."  Take a look at  Tutu's 45 second plea for divestment on moral grounds.  See the divestment testimonies (“divestimonies") of  Trinitarian Congregational Church in Warwick, MA and  Hancock UCC Church in Lexington

Day 31 - What you can do today

Here is a moving personal testimony from an Anglican Bishop who gave up driving his car for Lent to visit churches by bicycle.  Look at your calendar for the next week, and rearrange plans to save at least two automobile trips you would otherwise have made.  Maximize efficiency by shopping on your way home from work or somewhere else you have to go.  Walk or share rides with friends. Consider a local ride-share service such as GoTriangle or use a ZipCar.

Every year, there are more denominational responses bringing hope to climate and ecological issues.  Young Evangelicals for Climate Action is one such group - see the blog post "The Privilege of Skepticism" by Kyle Meyaad-Schaap. Other initiatives include Lutherans Restoring Creation and Presbyterians for Earth Care. Interfaith Power & Light lists statements by denomination. Consider reading this article by Rev. Gabriel Salguero on Hispanic Evangelicals and climate change.

Day 32 - What you can do today

How can we achieve a 70% reduction in global emissions between 2010 and 2050 without a strong moral voice, guiding people to leverage their power for change?  The UCC Conference Minister in Massachusetts tells his pastors that within only 2 or 3 years, every 3rd or 4th sermon must focus on - or at least touch upon - the issues of climate change and the environment.  Otherwise, in about 10-15 years every single sermon will focus on grief.  Have a look at what Joan Chittester says about how 6th century Benedictines re-focused for several decades to re-plant the forests of Europe.

Day 33 - What you can do today  

In A Climate Crisis World, What is the Church For?

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Civil Rights movement prompted thousands of congregations to wonder "What's the church for?"  Since the UCC first invited congregations in 1985 to become Open and Affirming of GLBTQ persons in the full life of the church, thousands of congregations have wondered "What's the church for?"  Now it is again time, in the context of climate change, to wonder "What's the church for?"  Bill McKibben was right to say, in 2007, this is a moment for which the church was born.

While we don't always live up to it, the church aspires to live out the highest moral values - coincident with Jesus' teachings.  While Jesus' critique of materialist values is challenging, a small way the church can embrace those values is to switch from printed newsletters to newsletters sent electronically... and to switch from printed worship bulletins to projecting readings and hymns on a screen.  For communications that must be printed, consider buying 100% recycled paper products for your church (which are only slightly more expensive) and print double-sided.

Day 34 - What you can do today

Have you heard a sermon on climate change?  (And if you're a clergy, have you preached one?)  People who have at least occasionally heard a sermon on climate change are more likely to accept climate change as real.  In addition, Americans who say their clergy leader speaks at least occasionally about climate change also score higher on the Climate Change Concern Index.  More than 6-in-10 Americans who report hearing about climate change from their clergy leader at least occasionally are either very (38%) or somewhat (24%) concerned about climate change.  Read more here:  PRRI/AAR Religion, Values, and Climate Change Survey.

Momentum is beginning to build for A New Awakening - A Season of Prophetic Climate Witness through Preaching, Prayer, and Practice.  Today, ask your pastor to pledge to preach on climate sometime during this season.  And if you're a clergy, indicate your commitment by signing up.  Share news of your commitment on Facebook and Twitter.  Together, we can act faithfully on climate, and change the political conversation fast enough to match the changing climate.

Day 35 - What you can do today

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 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. 

The New Awakening - A Season of Prophetic Climate Witness  through Preaching, Prayer, and Practice hopes to have at least 70% of New England congregations hear a sermon on climate change.  Once your pastor signs up, tell friends who attend other churches about this important opportunity, and support them as they invite their pastor to  sign up.

Day 35 - What you can do today

Take a moment to consider all the ways you already bear testimony on behalf of God's creation, not only in church but in your day to day life...  Now bring to mind the additional opportunities you have had but for one reason or another, you've chosen to remain silent...  Now pray for the courage and support you need to proclaim more boldly God's call to protect and restore creation. 

Consider this: What if the first announcement at every worship service - whether in a church, synagogue, or mosque - went something like this: "As we do every week, I'd like to ask those who contacted either their congress-person or the White House this past week to advocate for new laws that will make our earth sustainable... would you please rise as you are able and receive our applause...  Thank you, and I hope to see all of you rise next week."  If we pray for one another, why would we not encourage one another - every Sunday - to advocate for laws that will preserve the beauty and wonder of creation

Day 39 - What you can do today

If you're feeling a bit challenged by this week's theme of Prophetic Preaching, Prayer and Practice, this will help.  Watch this incredible 3 minute video by climate scientist and evangelical Christian, Katharine Hayhoe.   Katharine Hayhoe: Climate Change Evangelist. 

If we claim to be disciples of Jesus, then we are called to be advocates for the common good.  And one thing more, we are called to proclaim the GOOD NEWS - not by ignoring the fact that we have been pillaging the earth and privileging corporate profits - but by doing something about it.  What might happen if world religious leaders were to engage in conversation with proponents of land trusts, launching a movement to place into trust land owned by houses of worship and religious institutions?  Some are now suggesting that the ownership of nature is not in keeping with religious teaching.

Day 40 - What you can do today

Still wondering what prophetic prayer might be?  Here's an assist from the British newspaper, the Guardian.  Take two minutes to look at this interactive graph of where temperatures could be, depending on whether we act or not.  And then join your heart and mind to God, and seek clarity on God’s call for you. 

What if Christians paid as much attention to those scriptures that emphasize communal salvation as they do to those passages that emphasize personal salvation?  A theologian/activist friend of mine puts it this way: Did Jesus come with an evacuation plan or a building plan?  It's time for the sleeping giant of the church to awaken to the moral challenge of our age.  

Reflect on the fact that the richest 20% of the world's population consumes 80% of the world's resources, and those who contribute least to the causes suffer most from the effects of climate change.  Pray for people living in poverty and affected by climate change.  Visit Peter Sawtell's eco-justice ministry web site and review his March 2013 newsletters on Worship http://www.eco-justice.org/E-list.asp. Consider how your worship can incorporate some of these suggestions, and how you can tell your community what you’re up to. 

Day 41 - What you can do today

Reflect on the fact that the richest 20% of the world's population consumes 80% of the world's resources, and those who contribute least to the causes suffer most from the effects of climate change.  Pray for people living in poverty and affected by climate change.  Visit Peter Sawtell's eco-justice ministry web site and review his March 2013 newsletters on Worship http://www.eco-justice.org/E-list.asp. Consider how your worship can incorporate some of these suggestions, and how you can tell your community what you’re up to. 

As the effects of climate change become more apparent, the unit of relevance and meaning will increasingly become the town.  Isn't it something of a miracle that - as it turns out - there is a church in (almost) every town?  By offering community leadership of the sort that every church did in the 17th century, community resilience can be strengthened and celebrated.  The Transition Towns movement hopes to see every community in the United States engage its collective creativity to realize a future beyond fossil fuels that's more vibrant, abundant, resilient and ultimately preferable to the present.  Consider how your church might be part of this.  For a deeper understanding and illustration of resilience, read Bill McKibben's  Eaarth.  

Day 42 - What you can do today

What if - in advance of Hurricane Sandy - the churches along the east coast of the United States had embraced their calling as harbingers of hope in a climate crisis world?  What if they had recognized the critical role they are called to play as promoters of resilience?  Once again, Peter Sawtell's reflection from November 2012 - which draws from The Atlantic Magazine, David Roberts from Grist and the World Bank - offers guidance for the church:  http://www.eco-justice.org/E-121102.asp  Tomorrow, the 12-day Pipeline Pilgrimage begins through MA and NH. Read a  blog post about the upcoming witness here. 

Did you know how concerned the health care community is about developing community resiliency to the challenges of climate change?  Tomorrow, Climate for Health will convene health care leaders from across the country.  Why?  Because climate change is accelerating, and the impacts on our health are growing in frequency and severity, becoming more visible in our everyday lives and showing up in doctor's offices across the country.  Pray for those who are leading this effort.

Day 43 - What you can do today

Community Resilience

Did you know that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has an Office of Economic Resilience?  Harriet Tregoning, a rock star in the world of smart growth and urban planning, took the helm in 2014.  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. 

Two years ago - only days after the bombing of the Boston Marathon - denominational leaders from across New England gathered for a Climate Revival.  Watch videos of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill McKibben and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori.  Download and pray over the Climate Revival Statement. Do whatever is appropriate to assure that your congregation participates in the New Awakening - A Season of Prophetic Climate Witness through Preaching, Prayer, and Practice. 

Day 44 - What you can do today

Tonight, Christians throughout the world will gather to observe Maundy Thursday.  Mindful of God's creation as the context in which Jesus' story along with our stories are lived, take a moment today to join with countless others who share your concern about creation.  Express your concern by reviewing IPL’s Paris Pledge and consider adding your personal support or getting your congregation to sign on.

Day 45 - What you can do today

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 and care for the earth are inseparable. No religious leader has been more clear on this point than Pope Francis. Watch this 4 minute preview of Pope Francis' forthcoming Encyclical from Yale professors Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, co-directors of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology. Learn more about how poverty is caused by environmental exploitation and degradation from the interfaith resources of The National Religious Partnership for the Environment.

For 2,000 years, Jesus' disciples have used Good Friday to contemplate Jesus' sacrifice. By at least some measures, over the past 200 years our familiarity with and appetite for sacrifice has gradually diminished.  (Animal rights advocates would, of course, witness otherwise.)  What has unquestionably been on the rise is our acquisitiveness and unapologetic greed.  Spend part of this Holy Day in contemplation and in conversation about the spiritual practices we can engage that involve some amount of sacrifice for future generations of people and creatures.

Day 46 - What you can do today

Bonhoeffer invited his readers to ponder what it meant to live in the great interstice - the "in between time."   Just as Holy Saturday is an "in between time," all of us are now living in a time like no other - a time between a period of continuity measured in hundreds of thousands of years and discontinuity that has dramatically asserted itself over a mere few decades.  In her book, "The Great Emergence" Phyllis Tickle asserts that we live in a time between great ecclesial cycles, on the verge of a fourth great awakening.  In this "in between time," could it be that God is inviting us to redirect the vocation of the church - and that our call is to help the world embrace a new moral and material trajectory?  Today, of all days, is a good day to pray on this.

© Donald Rambadt 2014