A couple weeks ago, walking in the redwoods with a dog, at the suggestion of adrienne maree brown, I decided to ask the trees about COVID-19.
Basically, what I heard from the trees is that even this virus has a message for us if we are willing to hear it. No, they were not saying that “God created a virus to punish us” – trust me, I checked, because I have not forgotten the 1980s. But they were clear that there was a message. Continue reading “I Asked the Redwoods”→
I just finished teaching a class in Eco-Ministry at Garrett Seminary. My initial (and still favorite) title for the course was a play on John Wesley’s quote, “the world is my parish.” I wanted to call it The Earth is Our Parish. However, the formal title became “CL-621 Earth Ministry for Ecological Renewal.” CL-621 is one of the core courses in the Ecological Regeneration Concentration of Garrett’s new Masters in Public Ministry program.
I’m writing about it here not primarily to promote Garrett Seminary, but because this Eco-Ministry is a growing edge in contemporary ministry. It often has interfaith and eco-spiritual aspects, which are essential. But its placement in Garrett’s new Public Ministry degree gave it a distinctive social and political slant that is sometimes missing. Garrett’s version also featured radical discipleship resources that gave it a particular focused and practical impact. Continue reading “Teaching Eco-Ministry”→
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann, January 25, 2020
This was the closing sermon to the United Methodist Global Water Summit at Cass United Methodist Church in Detroit. His opening sermon was posted on February 12.
In the summer of 2013 as the Water shut-offs spiked under Emergency Management, St Peter’s Episcopal became the first water distribution station of We the People of Detroit. The first contribution was a truckload borne across the Ambassador Bridge by the Council of Canadians. It didn’t have all the necessary paperwork, so the Border Feds had to decide whether to halt it and cause an international press incident or just allow I through irregularly. The latter wisdom prevailed. We received it at St Peter’s with a small ceremony, carried it in brigade-style and stored it along the outside isles of the sanctuary. But mostly we grouped the bulk of it around the baptismal font which is the first thing you see as you enter. At one point we had 1500 gallons of water there. We hung a banner behind the font which said St. Peter’s Water Station, making the very same connection as this summit. Continue reading “Sermon- By this Authority.”→
In the name of the One who breathed across the face of the waters in creation; the One who is Lord and Servant of all; and the Spirit militant that summons, fills, and holds us together as one, let all of this be.
I am a former pastor of this congregation, so I’ve preached many times from this pulpit; I was married in this sanctuary, my daughter was baptized here, and still I confess to feeling the burden of bringing a Word to this important summit. I’ve been asked to “lay a theological foundation” for these conversations. In that, I’m mindful that the charism we need in this moment is less one of speaking than of listening – especially to our guests from the African continent. Continue reading “Sermon “By Water and the Spirit: A Global Water Summit””→
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 “What the Waters Know: Re-Reading John 1:29-42”→
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 “An Apology to Mother Earth”→
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.
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.
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.
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: The Desert Shall Rejoice and Blossom”→
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?