Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Day Devotional from PEC

The Labor Continues
by Rev. Ginna Bairby

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” –Romans 8:19

Rejoice, for the day is here! As one of my favorite hymns proclaims, “Love has come; a light in the darkness! Love shines forth in the Bethlehem skies!”* All of creation has been groaning in labor pains with Mary, and at last the Christ Child is born! The angels sing and the heavens rejoice and alongside the manger, “Sister Chicken” and “Brother Goat” cluck and bleat their own melodies of praise.

And yet. There’s always an “and yet,” isn’t there?

And yet here we are some 2000 years later, still waiting. Still witnesses to (and participants in) the suffering of creation. Still hearing the cries of God’s earth and God’s people.

When Paul writes that the whole creation “groan[s] in labor pains” and “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God,” he’s writing not only from the other side of the manger, but from the other side of the cross, even of the empty tomb. Christ’s redemptive action has taken place, and yet creation is still in bondage. “Joy to the world…let heaven and nature sing!” – and yet the creation still groans.

It’s intriguing to me that Paul writes in Romans 8 about the children of God rather than just the Christ child, God’s only Son. For Paul, Jesus is the beginning, the “first fruits.” The creation still waits, with eager longing, for the continued revelation of God’s children.

Will we who are baptized into God’s family answer the call?

*Hymn quote comes from Ken Bible, “Love Has Come,” 1996. 

Prayer: God of all grace, thank you for coming to us this day to be a light in our darkness. God who is both Father and Mother, help us learn to live as your children. Amen.

Rev. Ginna Bairby is the Managing Editor of Unbound ( and Associate for Young Adult Social Witness with the PC(USA)’s Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministries in Louisville, KY. She attended the College of William and Mary for her B.A., Union Presbyterian Seminary for her M.Div., and served as a Young Adult Volunteer in Lima, Peru.

Christmas Eve Devotional from PEC

Christmas Eve 
by Nancy Corson Carter

For this holy night I am drawn to Pope Francis’s beautiful blessing for us in the conclusion (paragraph 245) of his encyclical (in bold letters).

In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present.

On this Eve of Christ’s birth, we remember “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” And every breath we breathe is his presence: ruach, spiritus, pneuma.
In God’s grace all children are beloved—Christ, ourselves, all creatures, all life.

He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone,
Wherever we are, we can let the holiness of this Eve comfort and companion us (putting aside our last minute scurrying and worrying).
In return we offer our hearts as resting place for this dear Child. 
He is Emmanuel, God with us—tonight, tomorrow, forever and ever.

for he has united himself definitively to our earth
In Christ God unites us with every element of the cosmos. The angels, donkeys, shepherds, and sheep at his birth represent the fullness of creation’s rejoicing.

and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.
Pope Francis urges us to act with greater concern for nature and for the poor. He asks what “little ways of love” can we practice? What economic or political or other initiatives for earth care can we support?

Prayer: We pray for patience to listen for Christ’s call. Let us sing as we go, a brave and joyful song of hope.

Praise be to him!

Nancy Corson Carter is a publishing poet and writer, facilitates an Earth Care Congregation in Chapel Hill, NC, and is active in the Shalem Society for Contemplative Leadership. She is Professor Emerita of Humanities at Eckerd College and was Moderator of PRC from 1999-2005.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fourth Week of Advent

God’s Light Awakening Us to Our Common Home

Apaga tu motor, prende tu conciencia!
(Turn off your motor, turn on your conscience.)

Pacha Mama, Pacha Mama, si no se cuida no se ama.

(Mother Earth, Mother Earth, if we do not care for you, we do not love you.)

These past two years I have participated in climate marches that were inspired by the global meetings COP 20 and 21. There I heard these two chants as crowds from around the world gathered in solidarity, carrying signs and passing out flyers throughout the streets of Lima, Peru and La Paz, Bolivia. In Spanish, the word prende (in the first chant) expresses the command to turn on or to light. Perhaps this light, which the gospel writer John called us to attend to so long ago, is what needs to shine in our world these days. This can be a light that awakens us and calls us to live consciously; thus we will care for the Pacha Mama (the indigenous term for Mother Earth) and for God’s gifts of life to all beings.

In his contemplative Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si, Pope Francis so beautifully affirms this call for us to care for our Casa ComĂșn (Common Home). We are to live in “integral ecology,” to be in communion as we embrace the interconnectedness of our environment.

In Bolivia, through the PC (USA) Presbyterian Hunger Program, Joining Hands, our network, UMAVIDA (Joining Hands for Life), is working with churches and grassroot groups to answer this call to care for Creation. Our mission is to address the root and structural causes of hunger and poverty through joint campaigns. Accompanied by our US Presbytery partners, our campaign advocates for environmental justice for communities affected by mining contamination and left without access to clean water. These global issues are interconnected, as we are in the body of Christ. Through our mission work, we strive to develop a spirituality of that “global solidarity” of which Pope Francis reminds us.

Prayer: God of Love and Light,
Our world cries. We pray that, through our faith, we can commit ourselves to reconnect to our Casa ComĂșn and be the light that inspires stewardship of your Creation, the Pacha Mama. Amen.

Chenoa Stock has served as Mission Co-Worker for the Presbyterian Church (USA) for ten years. She served in India and Sri Lanka, and for the past five years has been the Companionship Facilitator for the Joining Hands network in Bolivia, South America, UMAVIDA (Joining Hands for Life).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gratitude for God's Creation in Advent

Dear Friends in Earth Care,

Happy Advent! I trust you are enjoying our Advent devotion (here in a handy pdf or below on the blog) and that this season of expectation is one of peace, love, joy, and hope.

Below you'll also find the links for the overtures that our Advocacy committee has been working on, resources on refugees and earth care, as well as art and poetry, as is becoming our theme and practice.

May these last weeks of 2015 remind you of the love of God and our call to love each other and all creation.

with hope and gratitude,
Abby Mohaupt, Vice Moderator and Newsletter Coordinator
Presbyterians for Earth Care


In the dark of winter
Now is a small spark

    that brightens shadows with a flicker of hope
    that strengthens resolve in an instant of courage
    that limits the painful to a moment of time

Now is the only time i have...and all the gift I need...
In the heart of winter.

Mary Jo Lavin,
Dec. 2014

Advocacy Opportunities: Overtures and Resources!

Want to learn more about fracking and how your presbytery can respond? Check out the overture to ban fracking and a powerpoint to use while presenting the overture.

You can also bring this overture on empowering the Presbyterian Mission Agency to speak to injustices related to fossil fuels--or this overture opposing factory farming.

And yours could be the next presbytery to concur with the overture to divest from fossil fuels. As of December 16, nine presbyteries have approved this overture.

Environmental Refugees and Earth Care

In this season of Advent, when we remember the birth of Jesus in a manager and his later flight to Egypt as a refugee, we acknowledge that people all over the world have fled their homes this year. 

In 2005, National Geographic wrote about environmental refugees, people who had to find new homes because of environmental disasters. This trend continues, and we pray for those who are forced from their homes for any reason, as we wait for the One Who Comes to Us, exactly where we are, and who will come again.

 Diane Waddell (center), current moderator, would like to share gratitude for the leadership and legacy of previous moderators Nancy Corson Carter (left) and Jenny Holmes. May we all continue to have passion and strength for the important work and pursuit of eco-justice and the healing of the planet.

Advent Devotions

Have you been reading the Advent Devotions this year? Find all the reflections on the blog here and catch up or reread. 

Connect with us

Follow us on Facebook for prayers, reflections, images and information throughout the month. You can also connect with Presbyterians around the country!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Third Week of Advent Devotional

Attuning Our Spirits to God's Word
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning...” (Romans 8:22) 
What an astonishing text! It is on this theme that Pope Francis speaks in his encyclical: this Sister, Mother Earth, now cries out because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible uses and abuses of the goods with which God endowed her.  We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. “This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’.”
When I go to the supermarket, it upsets me to see with what abandon people use plastic. Most plastic is not biodegradable, and much of it ends up in the oceans, forming “pits of plastic,” killing sea creatures and choking birds.
My family tries to live simply.  So we were pleasantly surprised when we received a letter and graphics from our energy provider, congratulating us on being the most energy efficient household in the area!  We will continue on this path and, doing so, help to slow down global warming.

As we enter this Advent season, we are reminded “For a child has been born for us, a son is given to us … he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  This child grew to become “the man of sorrows,” who suffers with the earth and humans. As the spirit of Christ dwells within us, at odds with the power of sin and death, we experience conflict, yet not are driven to despair.  Our redemption means hope for the whole creation, which “waits with eager longing for the revealing of God’s children.” As children of God and joint heirs with Christ indwelled by his Spirit, we are one with creation in suffering, longing, and hope.

Prayer:  Spirit of God, groaning in creation, attune our spirits to your cries and the cries of all creation longing for liberation and renewal of planet earth.

Kay-Robert Volkwin did his schooling and seminary training in Cape Town, South Africa. He continued his studies in this country.  In 1976, he completed his M.A. (Religion) and in 1984, his Doctor of Ministry. He was a pastor in South Africa and here in the US.  He served as presbytery associate and synod associate executive.  From 1999 through 2004, he and his wife served as mission workers in South Africa.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Include PEC in your year-end giving

Dear PEC Members and Friends,

J Herbert Nelson at PEC
Conference in Montreat
"There is a bold word to be spoken for eco-justice against all the forces of eco-injustice, all the oppression of earth and people." Bill Gibson, one of the founders of Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC) penned those words. This September, at our Montreat conference, we celebrated PEC's first 20 years of "working against the forces of eco-injustice." At the conference, the Steering Committee determined how the sacred trust we inherited from Bill, and the others who have gone before us will shape PEC’s future. Please support the work of PEC as we follow Christ in restoring creation for ecology and justice with a tax-deductible end-of-the-year donation.
A major focus for PEC in 2016 will be PC(USA)’s 222nd General Assembly (GA) in Portland, Oregon. We are now working with our members to prepare and present the following overtures: fossil fuel divestment, a ban on fracking, correcting injustices related to fossil fuel extraction, reforming factory farming and supporting the Pope's encyclical, "toward an ecological conversion.” We will inform the thousands of Presbyterians who attend GA about our eco-justice work with a booth in the Exhibit Hall and at our eco-justice luncheon.

In 2016 we will continue our work against the forces of eco-injustice in the following ways:
Trisha Tull, Conference
Keynote Speaker
   Follow the challenges that Trisha Tull and J Herbert Nelson gave us to increase our justice-seeking base 
   Build stronger relationships between our Regional Representatives and members in their regions
   Support the Eco-stewards 2016 program in Seattle
   Strengthen our partnerships with other eco-justice organizations
   Develop a more welcoming and user-friendly website.

Please support the eco-justice work of PEC in 2016 with a generous year-end contribution so that we can continue to build a sacred trust for the future. You might also consider a gift contribution for Christmas or another special event. All donations are tax-deductible. 

Yours in Earth Care,

Diane Waddell
PEC Moderator

P.S. If you prefer to mail a check, please send it to: PEC Treasurer, 501 Valley Drive, Durham, NC 27704.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Second Week of Advent Devotional from PEC

A Leveling for Wholeness
by the Rev. Ashley Taylor 
Luke 3:1-6

As we reflect on the natural calling to care for and restore the earth, the gospel’s words about the earth’s terrain particularly catch my attention. In Luke, John’s proclamation of “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” is likened to what the prophet Isaiah imagines as a dramatic leveling of all barriers for the Messiah’s presence. Unlike the prophet’s vision of wholeness, when we see valleys being filled, mountains being made low, crooked ways straight, and rough places smooth, it means that modern day Herods and Roman Empires have been polluting, extracting, exploiting, and compromising the earth’s limited resources.
Surely Luke was not calling out bulldozers, dynamite, and atomic bombs to clear a path for the Messiah. But the prophets of whom Luke tells, and every event in Jesus’ ministry, cry out for us to thoroughly live in the ways of justice and faith in God’s design for wholeness.
If the Advent invitation is for us, in this age, how can the gospel’s imagery spark a transformative moment? How can this season be the time to “repent,” (to acknowledge the whole truth, experience the impact of the truth, and allow the transformation God leads), and practice forgiveness in such a way that our inner landscape appears leveled – and whole?
Prayer: Radiant One, may the mountains be leveled, not by mining companies stripping the earth, but by your courage in us to remove the obstacle of greed for more than the earth can sustain.
May “all flesh see your salvation” – the wholeness that is your great design. Amen.
The Rev. Ashley Taylor is pastor with the North Highland Presbyterian Church in Denver, CO. This congregation is re-creating “church” by becoming a neighborhood center that helps develop local, small businesses, bartering, urban gardens to feed the city, and spirituality that can help sustain and inspire varieties of people.