2014 Advent Devotional
Prepare ye the way of the Lord...make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3b)
Presbyterians for Earth Care presents our Advent/Christmas devotions based on the work of PEC throughout 2014 as we have joined members and other partners in seeking eco-justice. We have asked members of PEC to weave reflections of their witness in that great work and integrate it with the beauty, hope and Mystery that is coming as we anticipate The Gift, The Christ. All the reflections from pre-Advent to Epiphany are available on the PEC website. The devotional for the First Week of Advent is below.
A Report Card: Working to make straight in the desert a highway
By Holly Hallman, PEC Vice Moderator
Prepare ye the way of The Lord...make straight in the desert a highway for our God.. (Isaiah 40:3b)
Two years ago the Presbyterians for Earth Care Steering Committee met at Stony Point for their annual retreat. Rick Ufford-Chase joined us for a day and after reflecting on who PEC is and how we work he made some suggestions. His ideas seemed like good ones! He thought we might bring together many overtures for the General Assembly (GA) in Detroit—enough, in fact, to have a committee just for issues around the environment. Underneath the obvious goodness of such an endeavor was a more subtle idea. He was really inviting the steering committee to be less of an advisory group and more of a team of front-line activists. That was and is a big shift. It started us dreaming!
All sorts of ideas flew on to paper and lined our walls at Stony Point. Our resounding “yes” was followed by “how?” We affirmed our “yes” last year at our Ferncliff retreat. And, it is time to reflect on where we are in that journey! First, we didn’t flood GA with dozens of environmental overtures. We took three that our steering committee members wrote and one that we supported and participated in crafting. All of what we took to Detroit got a great hearing! Two of the four were passed in committee by such a margin that they went on the consent agenda. The third and fourth, got a lot of attention and were argued on the floor of the assembly.
Our booth at GA was well used. We shared our space with Fossil Free PCUSA as a way of supporting their work. Off-site we had a luncheon with Bill McKibben (by video) and Fletcher Harper of Green Faith as our keynoters.
And here is the best part. We are growing our advocacy. We have two sub-groups on the west coast. Yukon Presbyterians for Earth Care did a regional conference in September and is looking at the long list of issues that are unique to the polar regions of our globe. Presbyterians for Earth Care Northwest is addressing the Carbon Corridor that is erupting across the shaky rail lines of the area that suddenly are seen as links for coal and oil exports to Asia.
We are still working on the “how” mentioned above. We are few and the issues are many. For most of us we know “meeting” to mean something with eye contact. In a world challenged by the overuse of fossil fuels for travel, that has to change. We are connecting more and more often—we have to because there is such an urgency to what we are about—and we are using free conference calls, lots of them. We are using email groups, list serves and Skype. The indigenous voices that have spoken to us this year have all admonished us to listen! That takes on new meaning as we work hard to hear each other without the eye contact, body language and subtle intonation that are so much a part of our cultural communications.
My prayer is that we are “hearing” you, that you are finding groups and issues that you will lend your voice to, and that PEC will be in your heart through this Advent season as we await the gift that is born to us again each Christmas.
Contributor: Holly Hallman lives on the Puget Sound in the Northwest. She spends a lot of time “listening” to the voices there that human ears find it hard to hear. She is so grateful for the teachers who found her and her husband this year. Their nations include the Lummi, Yupik, Yuchi and Aleut.