Living Lightly on God’s Earth: A Guide to Spiritual Practices Focused on the Environment
During Lent, instead of fasting, let’s participate in positive efforts to respond to the crisis of the earth and our part in it and to take positive steps in response. We ask you to consider your use of carbon and other greenhouse gases and to practice ways of reducing your personal impact.
Each week a bulletin insert will provide resources for use in your Lenten contemplation and action. We will provide a statement by a faith community, a scripture reading and a prayer. There will also be some suggested actions you can take to reduce the greenhouse gases.
Earth-friendly Ideas to try in Lent
Use a water bottle instead of buying bottled water
Brush your teeth without running the water the whole time
Make/use cloth napkins instead of paper ones
Skip the plastic coffee stirrer ( put sugar and cream in first)
Use your own coffee cup/travel mug
Use cruise control
Stop your junk mail- call and be taken off the mailing list
Use vinegar and water to clean instead of harsh/toxic chemicals
Donate or recycle instead of throwing away
Go for a walk instead of using a treadmill
Research ways to go organic in your lawn/garden
Listen to the TED radio hour Saturdays at noon on VPR
Turn off devices you are not using
Recycle batteries, bulbs, cartridges
Wash clothes and dishes in cold water
Use reusable bags for all shopping, not just groceries
Plan a “Zero Waste Day”
Plan an organic meal with the family, and trace the origins of your meal – reflect on who has enabled this food to nourish you
Buy or borrow an energy monitor, Turn down the temperature a few degrees
Purchase products from recycled or reused resources
Close doors of rooms not in use, close curtains to help retain heat, use draft dodgers
Slow down when you’re driving! Lower speeds use less fuel.
Check your car’s tire pressures- under inflated tires also use more fuel
Buy nothing for one day
Walk or bike to work.
Have a travel -free day.
Share lawnmowers, ladders, equipment, books, etc with others in your community
Take a walk. Enjoy the wildlife, sounds, and sights that God has created. Pick up any litter you find and recycle it if you can.
Go without meat for a day
Learn to knit and darn so you can make and repair rather than buying
Investigate and invest in some renewable energy.
Pass on what you have to others in need, rather than being possessed by your possessions.
Switch to LED bulbs
Install low-flow shower head
First Week of Lent
In this first week you are invited to be mindful about the food you eat. We start with food because it is the usual focus of fasting and can be a strong element in a spiritual practice which encourages us to be self-disciplined and grateful.
Statement of faith from the United Church of Christ
“[United Church of Christ] recognizes the dangers of global warming and our biblical mandate as stewards of God’s creation to be diligent in our efforts to decrease the emission of greenhouse gases; affirms the greater responsibility of industrial nations and especially the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; encourages local churches, Conferences and national agencies to engage in efforts to educate and advocate for ratification of the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty and to address their own lifestyles (institutional and personal) to assure the minimum production of wastes that threaten the environment.” (From “Statement on Global Climate Change,” United Church of Christ 22nd General Synod, http://www.ucc.org/environmental-ministries/
Scripture. Genesis 1:29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Prayer. Gracious and merciful God, as we commit to this Lenten discipline, grant us the humility and the inspiration to move through authentic mourning for the destruction of so much of your creation. Move us to accept our obligation to restore your creation, and to act with love and care for all that you call sacred. Let me be mindful of the abundance set before us and move to restore your sacred balance.
Actions. These actions ask you to be mindful of food. Our food systems offer us an abundant array of food but much of it has high carbon cost. Consider undertaking one of the following actions for this week.
- Eat as locally as possible. Eating all locally grown food for one year could save the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 1,000 miles. Locally grown food taste better and supports local farms.
- Eat no or less meat. Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.
- Buy organic foods. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Living Lightly on God’s Earth: Second Week of Lent
James 3:4. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploit
John 3:8 The wind[a] blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Statement of Environmental Principles from the United Methodist Church.
The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church remind us that “all creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it” (¶ 160). Development must be centered in the concept of sustainability as defined by the World Commission of Environment and Development: “to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Christian understanding of sustainability encompasses this concept. Fundamental to our call as faithful witnesses is the meeting of human needs within the capacity of ecosystems. This ensures the security of creation and a just relationship between all people. Sustainable development, therefore, looks toward a healthy future in three vital areas: the social community, the economy, and the environment. The United Methodist Church will strive for a global sense of community to help achieve social, economic, and ecological justice for all of creation.
Prayer in the Ojibway Tradition.
Grandfather, Look at our brokenness. We know that in all creation. Only the human family has strayed from the Sacred Way. We know that we are the ones who are divided. We are the ones who must come back together to walk in the Sacred Way. Grandfather, Sacred One, teach us love, compassion, and honor that we may heal the earth and heal each other.
Actions: This week you are invited to be mindful of your use of energy in your home or your place of work. There are three suggestions for you to consider.
- Reduce your thermostat settings by one or two degrees.
- Insulate your water heater.
- Unplug charging cords for cell phones, computers, etc. since they are always drawing electricity or plug them into a power strip which you can turn off.
- Get an energy audit of your home or work place.
The Third Week of Lent: Emphasis on Water.
Scripture. John 4:4-42. Isaiah 41: 17-18.
Statement of Faith by the Presbyterian Church (USA) Environmental Policy
God’s work in creation is too wonderful, too ancient, too beautiful, too good to be desecrated. Restoring creation is God’s own work in our time, in which God comes both to judge and to restore. The Creator-Redeemer calls faithful people to become engaged with God in keeping and healing the creation, human and non-human. In this critical time of transition to a new era, God’s new doing may be discerned as a call to earth-keeping, to justice and to community.
Water of the earth: tears collected from its birthing in tumult and upheaval. This water is precious beyond recounting. Every droplet here is from beyond time. Wasting it is disrespect. Polluting it is sacrilege. Protecting it is prayer. Let me, who am thoughtless, be thoughtful when I dip my hands into this cherished stuff. Let me, who am mindless, be mindful when I drink the cup of flowing water. Let me, who am unconscious, be conscious of my choices. Let me feel and know the primordial power that water holds and brings. Let me grateful for this great gift.
- Be mindful of your water use when doing simple things like washing your hands, rinsing dishes, or brushing teeth.
- Take showers rather than baths and/or take shorter showers
- Install a brown water system at your home.
- Fix leaks.
- Don’t buy single use water bottles.
Sunday Social. You will find, in the bulletin, a post-it note sheet. You are invited to write a word, or words that speak to you concerning the environment, climate change, or water. During Sunday social post the notes on the poster in Webster Hall. These words will be made into a word “cloud” and posted the following Sunday.
Week Four of Lent
Scripture: John 9:1-41 and Job 12:7-10
From the Office of the Dalai Lama:
I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not for his or her self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources and through concern for the future generations, the proper care of the environment.
Prayer: Gracious and merciful God, as we proceed through this Lent, grant us the humility and the inspiration to move through authentic mourning for the destruction of so much of your creation. Move us to accept our obligation to restore your creation, and to act with love and care for all that you call sacred.
This week we are being mindful of our use of energy. Carbon dioxide is created by burning fossil fuels to generate electricity or to drive our cars. Anything we can do to responsibly use these resources will save carbon emissions.
- Change incandescent light bulbs for CFLs. The CFLs cost more but they will last longer and save carbon emissions.
- Walk, bike, carpool, or take the bus instead of driving
- Use a power strip and turn off computers, televisions, etc. as you end your day.
- Get an energy audit for your home or office.
Living Lightly on Gods Earth. Lent Week Five.
Scripture: John 11:1-45
Prayer: God of all, instill in us the knowledge that we are called upon to tend and care for your garden. Grant us the wisdom to cultivate it for the good of all, so that all your creatures may be fed from the bounty of your creation as we insure that even those without access may be nourished.
Statement by the Faith Community: Roman Catholic.
At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God’s creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both “the human environment” and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship of God’s creation and our responsibility to those who come after us.
Suggested Actions: This week we are again emphasizing energy use. There are so many ways to conserve energy and some of them are so simple all they require is a reminder and mindfulness.
• Properly inflate your car tires. Properly inflated tires can increase gas mileage by 3.3%..
• Cover your pots when cooking. Covering cooking pots keeps the heat in the pot and speeds the process so you are not using as much energy.
• Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85% of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
• Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
Living Lightly on God’s Earth.
Lent Week Six
Scripture: Psalm 121:1-2 Ephesians 5:7-10
Prayer: Good and gracious God, we stand in awe of your power to create a magnificent world for us to enjoy during our lifetime. Help us to see it anew as the wonder that it is. Open our eyes and enlighten our minds to understand the power we hold and responsibility we have to keep it as a gift that we only borrow, and to pass it on to generations that follow. Send your Holy Spirit to be here as we reflect in our hearts and minds on your call to us as human beings and Christians to keep this treasure, your earth, safe from harm.
Statement from a faith community: Interfaith Statement
As members of the faith community, we have a deep obligation to understand the full dimensions of this growing problem, which the scientific community has documented with overwhelming consensus in the past few decades.
Safeguarding all creation on earth is a sacred trust that is placed upon us – to love, to care for and to nurture. We accept this trust as a universal moral imperative, one that we share across all human societies, religious faiths and cultural traditions.
Given the urgency of the current situation, we solemnly pledge to:
- Foster a reflective and prayerful response to the threat of global climate change.
- Work together as people of many religions and cultures to live sustainably on planet Earth.
- Encourage members of our faith to develop and implement energy conservation plans and to use safe, clean, renewable energy.
- Be an authentic witness for action on climate change and environmental justice through teaching, preaching and by letting our voices be heard in the public sphere.
- Advocate for local, state, national and international policies and regulations that enable a swift transition from dependence on fossil fuels to safe, clean, renewable energy.
Actions: This week you are asked to continue the work you having been doing during Lent and carry it into the Easter season.
- Take a walk in your neighborhood and rejoice in all the new life you see.
- Read a book or view a video that is informative about climate change or the environment. There are several books in the church library that may be helpful.
- Continue to educate yourself on what you can do, and what others are doing, to “walk lightly o God’s Earth.” The following internet sites are good resources to help you get started. http://earthministry.org http://fore.research.yale.edu/climatechange/ http://www.arocha.org/
You are invited to write a sorrow, sin, concern, and/or comment you wish to offer to God on the purple sheet in your bulletin. Fold or roll the sheet and place it between the rocks in the bowl at the back of the Sanctuary on your way out.