HOLY WEEK

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 New International Version)

Arguably one of the pivotal verses in the New Testament Canon, John’s explanation of the process and motivation of salvation is striking. Folks have tended to read it anthropocentrically, God loved ‘humanity’ you and me. But the single word ‘world’ is clear. All translations in English use the same word. What ‘world’ constituted in ancient times is debatable, but then and now, it still means all that can be considered beyond the local. It is not hard to include creation, and humanity within it, as the centre of God’s passion, and Christ’s self-giving action Phil 2).

For those concerned with creation, as a mission priority, the connection is easy. God has provided, graciously for our needs and the needs of non-human elements and being within creation. Salvation, specially expressed in Christ’s self-offering affect humans within the broadest realms of creation.

‘Belief’ as set out in this verse is often understood as a gateway to eternal things, to the detriment of current existence and environment. I beg to differ. What God creates, and continues to animate, is a direct expression of God’s creativeness. So consider what we have done with this gift! Consider our silence as others continue to destroy God’s gift.

As a reflection enjoy this clip from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5Akz6J8Rw0

A blessed Holy week to all.

Ken+

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A BICYCLE BUILT FOR TWO

This week, the carbon fast is all about transportation, something prized by North Americans as an inalienable right. When 1113025-Vintage-Penny-Farthing-Bike-Poster-Art-PrintI say ‘right’ I mean the ability to travel anywhere, anytime usually at high speeds and without any restrictions.

Cars and trucks are marketed ad-nauseaum as more comfortable, more fuel efficient (not a bad thing), more agile and capable of going anywhere, to the tops of mountains, into the dessert, and here in Canada through any and all kinds of weather. Overcoming the struggle in travel is so . . . Canadian.

The idea of staying home contributes little if nothing to our economy, and let’s just say that you see precious few advertisements with people sitting on the couch reading books. Mobility is where it’s at.

All this has been denied to me personally, as one born legally blind I have never driven a car, flown a plane or even piloted a boat. For some eye conditions technology makes driving possible but not for me. I must wait for the trillion dollar Google Driverless Car http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car (I will start saving now).

I have always felt like an outsider, especially on the occasion of my sixteenth birthday when all my friends processed down to the drivers license office for their adolescent rite of passage. Growing up in the mid seventies in Western Canada, the world of the bicycle was remote. I got the bike, they got the girls. Sigh!

Things have certainly changed, as my own city of 300,000 or so persons is replete with bike lanes and biking is now cool. A new consciousness of slower speeds, and a renewed interest in travelling less has taken hold of at least middle class life in the residential sections of our city. The suburbs are another matter. To arrive at one’s destination sweaty and carrying pannier bags no longer elicits puzzled looks. Folks say ‘good for you.’

What I describe above is only a small shift in culture, but the carbon fast is all about small shifts adding up to significant changes. if you and I can change our patterns, others can also, and eventually a huge consumer group can drive cars longer because they use them less. manufacturers and governments will notice. Urban designers can re-discover the role of corner stores and small community centres as places we can walk to and from instead of depending on large shopping malls and office blocks distant from where we live and work.

Schumacher said in the seventies that Small is Beautiful, and you know what, it still is. We don’t need to travel half as much as we presently do, and if I can build my life around a bike, so can you, hence a bicycle ‘built for two.’

Happy riding, Ken Gray+

CHRIST AND CREAATION, TOGETHER – A WORD ABOUT THE ACEN

ACEN web plateIf blogs, email, social networking and the internet are all about connecting, here’s another connective destination, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN).

This blog is initiated through the efforts of two ACEN members, Revs. Ken Gray and Rachel Mash. Both work full time for their respective Anglican churches in Canada and South Africa in parish or justice ministry. Both gather with other Anglicans concerned for creation, in rare instances at face-to-face meetings but primarily through electronic communication.

Anglican Communion General Secretary Canon Kenneth Kearon recently described the networks as the ‘future of the communion.’ Cynics might suggest he did so because networks are cheap. Comprised of volunteers there is only a sole coordinator position associated with networks at the communion level. A more thoughtful interpretation is that networks gather like-minded, ministry focused individuals who make ministry happen.

Such ministry however required coordination, encouragement, resources and a sense of community. The ACEN connects Anglican environmentalists globally through a list serve and through the publication of monthly digests. Digests are archived at http://acen.anglicancommunion.org/resources/digest/index.cfm

What’s in a Digest? Take a browse. Recent headings included

AN INITIATIVE – Carbon Fast Blog attracts Interest

A PUBLICATION – Gandhi, Ecology & World Religions

A MEDIA PROGRAMME – Letters to the future: Eco-justice visions in South Africa

A PROJECT UPDATE – Land for Life, Andrew and Maria Leake in Argentina.

A STUDY RESOURCE – Sabbath Reflections: Capitalism and Inequity versus a Gospel Mandate – a series of seven studies written by Bishop George

AN ACADEMIC PUBLICATION – The Spiritual Dimension of Global Change

AN ORGANIZATION WORTH FOLLOWING – A Rocha – Planetwise

The digest and this blog are a couple of ways the ACEN achieves its aims, thus:

To encourage Anglicans to support sustainable environmental practices as individuals and in the life of their communities.

To provide information about policies embraced by synods, councils and commissions, and especially by the instruments of Unity (Statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Resolutions and Reports of the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council)

To support local initiatives by providing information about ideas and best practices developed around the communion.

To share information about resources and initiatives that may be of value to Anglicans everywhere.

To provide an opportunity for interested Anglicans to meet both as a formal network, and informally via electronic media.

So friends, let us encourage one another and strengthen out witness. Let us build up these good works in our local communities, for Christ and creation, together.

Ken Gray+

O HEALING RIVER

As we complete our focus on water, and move towards week three where the theme changes to the ‘face of climate change (see image) we hear a new scripture, from Isaiah 24:4 – 6

The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the  statutes and broken the everlasting  covenant.

Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.

Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.

As a reflection I hope you will enjoy a folk version of a hymn, now quite popular in the Canadian church:

O healing river, send down your waters,

send down your waters upon this land.

O healing river, send down your waters,

and wash the blood from off the sand.

 

This land is parching, this land is burning,

no seed is growing in the barren ground.

O healing river, send down your waters,

O healing river, send your waters down.

 

Let the seed of freedom awake and flourish,

let the deep roots nourish, let the tall stalks rise.

O healing river, send down your waters,

O healing river, from out of the skies.

Enjoy, Ken Gray+

p.s. a nice choral version is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiHXEmsk-0U

REALITY CHECK – WATER with a note on WHAT CHURCHES CAN DO

Water

1.1  Billion people worldwide lack access to clean water.

1.8 million children die each year from waterborne diseases – one every 10 seconds.

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A ‘toilet’ which tells the story of the local water eco-system on display at the Church of the Advent, Victoria, Canada

5.3 billion people, two thirds of the world’s population, will suffer from water shortages by 2050.

The average American family uses 293 gallons of water per day; the average African family uses 5 gallons.

It is estimated that women in many developing countries walk for an average of about 6 kilometers each day to collect water (United Nations Population Fund, 2002).

Global consumption of water doubles every 20 years – more than twice the rate of human population growth.

In 1966, the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights established the right to water as a human right in Articles 11 and 12.

In 1999, the Dublin Conference on Water and the Environment established four principles that have subsequently guided world water policy:  (1) fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource; (2) water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels; (3) women play a central role in the provision, management, and safeguarding of water; (4) water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic good.

In 2001, 800 delegates from 35 countries attended the Water for Peace and Nature Summit in Vancouver.  They endorsed and signed the “Treaty Initiative to Share and Protect the Global Water Commons,” which says:  “the intrinsic value of the Earth’s fresh water precedes its utility and commercial value,” and that “the Earth’s water belongs to the Earth and all species, and therefore must not be treated as a private commodity to be bought, sold, and traded for profit.”

While it is obviously true that we need water for basic survival, continuing attempts to categorize water as a “need,” rather than a “right” have been legal attempts to justify privatization – that is to say, companies claim that their mission is to fulfill this basis “need.”

What the Churches Can Do

Church leaders, lay and ordained, must speak directly to government representatives on all levels – local, regional, and national – about the right to safe, clean water and preserving that right as a basic public trust.

Use the water in your baptismal font both as a sacrament and as an educational tool linking spiritual teachings, environmental stewardship practices, and basic human rights.

Invite women in your congregation to share their experiences about the significance of water, its uses, and the issues surrounding it.

Visit nearby wells, streams, and rivers with your congregations and communities to examine and bless the water.

Implement water conservation strategies in your parish church or other places of worship.

Compiled by Canon Jeff Golliher, PhD, and used with thanks.

Ken Gray

WATER – THE SOURCE OF LIFE

This week we will be focusing on our theme of water: the source of life.
He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. (Psalm 104:10-13)

BUY SIMPLE FOOD – EAT WITH GRATITUDE

So if buying simple food was easy folks would do it all the time, right? Maybe not: Let’s think about what ‘simple food’ really is and consider some tips.

Tip #1   Eat as far down the food chain as possible. Avoid products which are highly processed. Read the list of ingredients and if the list looks like a high school chemistry experiment, look further.

Tip #2   Obviously include in your diet lots of vegetables and fruit, harvested locally where possible. Ideal sources are local markets, now hugely popular in North America.

Tip #3   Try to avoid ‘the foodies.’ An obsession with technique here in North America means that many distributors cater to an affluent consumer who wants all ingredients to possess special qualities other than nutrition. While this may mean organic and local sourcing, it does not guarantee it. Think ‘simple’ and do your homework.

Tip #4   Ask the kids, especially young adults, for if your kids are like my kids, they are much more aware of different styles of eating than I have ever been.

Tip #5   Plan, plan, plan. It’s funny how ‘simple’ involves planning. Food, with other environmentally transformative practices means getting organized.

Final Tip              Plant a garden where you live. Start simply and increase the size and complexity of your ‘farm’ each year.

Finally, a thought from Wendell Berry.

The pleasure of eating should be an extensive pleasure, not that of the mere gourmet. People who know the garden in which their vegetables have grown and know that the garden is healthy and remember the beauty of the growing plants, perhaps in the dewy first light of morning when gardens are at their best. Such a memory involves itself with the food and is one of the pleasures of eating. The knowledge of the good health of the garden relieves and frees and comforts the eater. The same goes for eating meat. The thought of the good pasture and of the calf contentedly grazing flavors the steak. Some, I know, will think of it as bloodthirsty or worse to eat a fellow creature you have known all its life. On the contrary, I think it means that you eat with understanding and with gratitude. A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes. The pleasure of eating, then, may be the best available standard of our health. And this pleasure, I think, is pretty fully available to the urban consumer who will make the necessary effort.

The full quote (well worth a careful study) is at http://www.ecoliteracy.org/essays/pleasures-eating

Bon appetit, Ken Gray