What the Waters Know: Re-Reading John 1:29-42

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Photo by Erinn Fahey

By James W. Perkinson

He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure (Ps 40:2).

I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. (Jh 1:31)

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (Jh 1:36).

So we sit today in bit of snow here in Motown, while our news feeds show weekly pile-ups of cold precipitation elsewhere across the land—and pile-ups, as well, of twisted metal in our stupid infatuation with cars and speed—as the Great Stream of Jetting Air bends south and brutal, from the Arctic Circle to Arizona, in announcement that Change, with a capital “C’ is not future, but here.  And we wonder about the upheaval of an entire planet.  Australia become a living kiln, cooking up a billion-fold of living flesh, involuntary offerings to our wanton refusal to heed!  In Puerto Rico they sleep outside, as the fracked Earth, heaving from a thousand cuts, here, there, in Oklahoma now grinding Her teeth in warning hundreds of times per year where She used to rest soft and fecund and quiet, but in our little cousin island to the south, slipping and sliding the soil into great fear and one more sheer nightmare.  Last time—it was the sea and sky as Maria roared through.  Now it is rock and sand, all serving notice they do not plan on being raped and plundered, forever.  But it is the poor who are first forced to hear and bear the pain.  The rest of us sleep-walk in daylight and pull the covers of night over our oblivious heads.  But our time is coming as well, I am afraid.  And we are far more culpable. Continue reading

An Apology to Mother Earth

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Image via the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

From Eve Ensler, read at the Bioneers Conference.

Dear Mother,

It began with the article about the birds, the 2.9 billion missing North America birds, the 2.9 billion birds that disappeared and no one noticed. The sparrows, black birds, and swallows who didn’t make it, who weren’t ever born, who stopped flying or singing or making their most ingenious nests, who didn’t perch or peck their gentle beaks into moist black earth. It began with the birds. Hadn’t we even commented in June, James and I that they were hardly here? A kind of eerie quiet had descended. But later they came back. The swarms of barn swallows and the huge ravens landing on the gravel one by one. I know it was after hearing about the birds, that afternoon I crashed my bike. Suddenly falling, falling, unable to prevent the catastrophe ahead, unable to find the brakes or make them work, unable to stop the falling. I fell and spun and realized I had already been falling, that we have been falling, all of us, and crows and conifers and ice caps and expectations — falling and falling and I wanted to keep falling. I didn’t want to be here to witness everything falling, missing, bleaching, burning, drying, disappearing, choking, never blooming. I didn’t want to live without the birds or bees and sparkling flies that light the summer nights. I didn’t want to live with hunger that turned us feral or desperation that gave us claws. I wanted to fall and fall into the deepest, darkest ground and be finally still and buried there. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Let them Praise!

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Psalm 148

By Laurel Dykstra

Salal + Cedar is the Watershed Discipleship community that curates Wild Lectionary. Psalm 148, which both celebrates and demands more-than-human praise for the creator, has become something of a “theme psalm” that we return to in worship. As it appears each year in the lectionary cycle we use it as a chance to look back at our year.

Praise God!
Praise God from the heavens
Praise in the Heights
Praise God, all you angels
Praise God, all you hosts Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Choosing the True Mystery

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Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-17, 17-19
Romans 1:1-7

By Lanni Lantto

Isaiah was a prophet in times of kings. In the lectionary passage, God sends him to Ahaz, a king defending his earthy kingdom, to say that God will send a sign: a young child named Immanuel meaning God is with us. This child, from a very young age, will know how to, “refuse the evil and choose the good.” For Ahaz, who may have felt powerless in his situation, this message was meant to give him hope for a time of peace and restoration.

Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: The Desert Shall Rejoice and Blossom

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Springtime by Alex Kladnik, Creative Commons

Seeking the True Joy of Advent

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Isaiah 35:1-10
Matthew 11: 2-11

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?”                                                                       Matt 11:7

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus, it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
Isa 35:1-2

by Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

Amid the shadowed darkness of impending winter, our Advent lection from Isaiah envisions springtime joy. We might at first wonder, “What does Isaiah’s imagery have to do with the celebration of the birth of Jesus?” This questions leads to another query: What exactly are we hoping for with the coming of the one we call “messiah” and “lord”? Or as John the Baptist puts it in this week’s gospel, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matt 11:3) Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Hope in the Anthropocene

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The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
 (Isaiah 2:1-3)

By Laurel Dykstra

It is hard to be hopeful in the Anthropocene, in the days when the destructive human impact on climate, individuals and communities, creatures, waterways and ecosystems is unprecedented. The lectionary passages this week have a fierce and compelling urgency but they seem far from the Advent theme of hope and further still from this lectionary project’s focus on Creation. Just what should we be awake to? Why the urban emphasis the focus on judgment?

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Wild Lectionary: We Live in Relation

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Landscape with Shepherd and Sheep; Anton Mauve, Vanderbilt lectionary project for art

Proper 29(34)

Jeremiah 23: 1-6

By Reverend Kelly Giese

Jeremiah’s oracles of a future king, a messiah, indicate that the sheep, the pasture, the people, the flock, never leave the watchful eye of the Lord.  All are referred to as “mine” belonging to Yahweh. There is a close association of the Lord the God of Israel to those who  shepherd and know the sheep; and to the land, its fecundity, and even to the spiritual lives of the sheep and shepherds: God dispels fear, corrects those who are in error, and even finds the missing. Continue reading