Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ash Wednesday Reflection

Ash Wednesday Reflection

by Jess Rigel

The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants.  Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.(Leviticus 25:23-24, NRSV)

Though the role of the health of the land and our relationship with the places where we find ourselves is upheld throughout Scripture, too often Christians misunderstand why such a relationship is important.  After all, Christianity was never rooted in one particular spot, a fact that is largely responsible for its rapid spread.  Salvation through Christ was based on relationship with Christ—it was and is free from the bonds of geography. 

Jesus himself spent most of his ministry as a homeless vagabond, constantly traveling and encouraging his disciples to do the same.  Yet the reason this travel was so controversial is because Jesus had the audacity to transcend the time and space of sanctity— worshipping wherever he went and healing whenever he felt like it.  The contemporary Church tends to forget that Christ’s wanderlust didn’t function to remove the holiness of the temple; it instead functioned to remind us that to God, every place is holy.  

In a world that has become increasingly mobile, the theology of place is no longer one we discuss in our churches, and too many church leaders have bought into the idea that people matter, but places don’t.  We have allowed our places to become commodities, and it is high time that the Church re-rooted itself in physical space and acknowledged how place affects our spiritual identities.

Because love of place stirs awareness of community and awareness of community exposes inequality, a refined sense of place leads to a refined sense of justice.  We cannot redeem a land that we don’t deign to know.  So this Lent, get to know your place: befriend a farmer, go for a walk outside, spend time vista gazing.  Know that the land you hold is the land God loves, and that you have been called to redeem it. 

Prayer: Creator God, help us to be present enough to our places that we might act as your agents, extending grace to all Creation.  Help us to recognize that we cannot claim to love our communities until we recognize that the human community is only one element of the whole.  We cannot claim to love our communities until soil, plants, animals, and the very air we breathe are recognized as worthy of our attention and your redemption. Liberate us to experience the sanctity of where we are. Amen.      

Jess Rigel is a third year M.Div/M.A. student at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she studies youth ministry and has been especially active with the Farminary project.  Prior to studying at Princeton, she taught eighth grade Language Arts for several years, and served as a community gardener through the PCUSA Young Adult Volunteer program in both Cascabel, AZ and New Orleans, LA.  She is passionate about food justice, adolescents, and literature, and she also enjoys hula hooping.  

PEC 2017 Lenten Devotional

2017 Lenten Devotional

Then the Angel Showed Me the River of the Water of Life

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5, NRSV)

Our Lenten devotions this year reflect on what it means to do the work of justice in our own watersheds. Revelation reminds us that rivers are the water of life, and the trees that grow in our watersheds heal. May these reflections inspire you in the journey to the cross during this Lenten season.

For creation, 

Sue Smith, Editor

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Prophetic Witness, Direct Action, Faithful Resistance

Brothers and Sisters in Christ and in Creation,

These past months, and particularly the past few weeks have been very stormy times. We have seemed to go politically from storm watch to storm warning at a dizzying pace. And as stormy weather goes, it seems dark. We all have been searching for wisdom and guidance.

Looking to Christ, we may have seen him overturning tables in the marketplace one day and healing the blind another. Looking for clarity, we find him in our hearts, in the eye of the storm. 

Indeed, we may find in the darkness of the storm, a place of rebirth - for ourselves, our community, our nation. At the Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign 2017 Watch Night Service with Rev. Dr. William Barber, a message was shared that we could compare the darkness of the tomb with the darkness of the womb - and we could rebirth our nation, seeking justice and loving kindness - out of that womb.

As we look to Christ for rebirth in our strength of being and becoming, we move to the doing - prophetic witness, direct action, Faithful Resistance (thank you, Rick Ufford-Chase!).
We can be and do in our hearts, homes, neighborhoods, cities, states and nation. 
We can be and do in our churches, presbyteries and synods. And it is so obvious now how we so “easily” touch our neighbors globally.

Please allow me to share an idea of a “doing” (and being). As part of a follow-up to a 2016 General Assembly overture, On Communicating Gratitude - based on Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si,” our congregation organized a community-wide ecumenical eco-justice team. We have had great success working with multiple ways of seeking environmental (and social) justice in our community and beyond.

We have researched, been publicly proactive and have been communicating with city officials, local media, the EPA, and others. We have had community members coming to support our Standing Rock brothers and sisters.  One had visited and another reminded us of a notice for Public Comment on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Another new member hosted a letter-writing gathering to the EPA at her house!! If you want to do the same to stop DAPL, the comment deadline is February 20.
Pray, host a vigil, become informed, take action. 
   Make an appointment to visit Congressional offices locally with cohorts.
   Review the popular Indivisible website and guide.
   Check out Ecumenical Advocacy Days, "Confronting Chaos, Forging Community," April 21-24 in DC
   Join the April 29 People's Climate March in DC. (Read more about the March next month!)

Friends, breathe deeply!  Seek justice in and through the darkness, holding Christ in your heart - in the eye of the storm.

Diane Waddell, Moderator