It’s all about that Neis: messages in song.

As we speed toward the longest night of the year, all of the Northern Hemisphere dwellers I know are looking for the Light.  We’re looking for ways to feel alive, and human, and hopeful in the dark and the cold — to appreciate the stars, to gather around the candles in our homes.  This year, well before it got too dark for my four chickens (poor little molting beasts!) to lay their daily eggs, I found myself gravitating toward stories that show miracles happening where people are already striding forward in faith, with little rational reason to think that even the most that they could offer could do anything meaningful.   The Christian story of the Loaves and the Fishes is like that (particularly in John).  So is the Jewish midrash I learned about Nachshon at the edge of the Red Sea with Moses.  Acting in faith, giving what we have (though it’s clearly not enough) and trusting, faithfully hoping that the sum of our all-too-insignificant parts, willingly given, can be great, and glorious, and, somehow, enough.

credit: The Maccabbeats

I look to these stories because enormous  effort, seemingly insignificant in the face of an overwhelming challenge is all we have to offer in response to climate change.  It’s the response we’re all trying to step faithfully into, most of the time.  And our stories can help us maintain that active, acting hope. In the words of the 2014 Maccabeats song: It’s all about that Neis. *

That hummable song created a mashup with another tune ** that has been playing in my head, and got me thinking — again — about miracles and when they happen, about maintaining Continue reading

Prayers for courage, imagination, and action, and a thunderclap!

World leaders are gathering right now in Lima, Peru, negotiating the details of the next climate change treaty to come forward in Paris in 2015.   Many opened the conference with fasting.  National leaders, climate change leaders, and faith leaders are all there, including PA IPL member Professor Don Brown, who is leading sessions on the ethics of Climate Change, and will offer a phone call and webinar for PA IPL members this winter.

People of all faiths from around the world are supporting the negotiations with prayer.  Please join them with a daily prayer moment of your own now through December 7.  Invite others to join you, hold a public vigil, or create a prayer or vigil in your own faith community, as part of an existing service, or as a standalone event.

You may find this video a compelling part of an invitation to join you in prayer.  It builds to a very strong ending that calls on each of us as individuals.

Philly-area folks may have a leg up on vigil planning, thanks to this week’s prayer workshop Continue reading

A cornucopia of thanks.

There are prayers and songs from every faith tradition for giving thanks and for celebrating the harvest.   Click around and find some that sing to you.  Use them to express gratitude or reawaken it (we all have those days!), and on any day you wish.   Links below the reprinted prayer.

This modern prayer, God of All Harvests, is slightly abridged from the original to make it more universal.  It comes from Catholic Relief Services, where you can find it printed in its entirety.

Suzy Razafinderafara, a rice farmer in Madagascar

Suzy Razafindrafara, a rice farmer in Madagascar, increased her crop yields using techniques she learned from CRS partner Caritas Antsirabe. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS

God of sun and God of rain,
In you, there is no dryness.
In you, no weed chokes the root.
No blight withers the leaf.
No frost bites at the blossom.

And, so, we pray for farmers and their
harvests everywhere.

In you, seeds of tears yield a bountiful harvest of joy.
May the rice farmer in Madagascar know
such bounty.

In you, seeds of truth and courage yield a bountiful harvest of justice.
May the coffee farmer in Honduras know Continue reading

Setting the table, planting the seeds.

Gathering with friends and family (chosen or otherwise) is so important. Thanksgiving is an extraordinary day: a day in which we pause together, welcome one another and offer thanks together.

Some of us will find ourselves seated with people with whom we rarely agree. If your Uncle Hal is someone who believes that a good argument is essential to complete digestion, you’re just stuck.

On the other hand, if you’re simply sitting at a table with people with sometimes-oppositional worldviews, you don’t have to set yourself up for conflict, and you can talk about what matters to you.

Instead of leading with climate change, lead instead with your motivation. Why have you stepped into this work?   Reach to a more personal place than the dual call that all our faiths share to care for the most vulnerable people and for the earth and all that it holds. Have particular experiences in the natural world filled you with wonder and awe? Healing? Peace? Joy? Share those. Invite others around the table to do the same, or to reflect on what has opened the door to those feelings.

Or what about beginning with a conversation about what we truly value, what makes us feel Continue reading

Sermon: The Divine is in the Details

On the day of the 2014 Annual Conference, host congregation Summit Presbyterian Church welcomed visitors to their morning services.  Pastor Cheryl Pyrch has kindly shared her sermon from that day.  Presbyterian churches join many other Christian denominations in the Revised Common Lectionary, a 3-year cycle of prescribed set of readings.image-1-f255b6fa

The Divine is in the Details, Leviticus 19: 1-18

Since today we’re hosting the Annual Conference of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, “Climate Justice: Faith in Action,” I’d like to make an observation about climate change. A personal observation, not a scientific fact or a frightening statistic:   climate change has taken a lot of the fun out of shopping. And eating. And traveling. We used to just shop for stuff that we liked and bought as much as we could afford, maybe more: from cars to shoes to blenders to laptops and cell phones and hamburgers and books and TVs and houses and coffee. Or, we went bargain hunting, which has its own thrill: from buy more save more sales to 10 for 10 dollars at Acme. But now when I pick up Continue reading

Vigils for Climate Leadership: Lights for Lima

light for lima globe logoThis December, as world leaders meet in Lima, Peru our future is on the line. Time is running out for our leaders to reach an agreement that saves us from devastating climate change. This is why faith communities worldwide are joining  OurVoices and organizing #LightForLIMA – a global, multi-faith prayer vigil. These vigils will show our leaders that we as people of faith are praying for their efforts to bring forth valid actions to start reversing the affects of climate change.

Leader after leader at the UN meetings in New York in September spoke of the size and vibrancy of the People’s Climate March, where people of faith formed the largest contingent of all.  That moral message was heard, and provided courage for leaders to speak boldly.  Now is the time to shine our lights again, urging those same leaders from speech to action.

On Sunday, December 7th, from 8:00pm-8:30pm worldwide, people from diverse faith and
spiritual communities will gather for public vigils — lit by solar lamps. There are currently vigils Continue reading