Sermon- By this Authority.

14045939_10208859512578630_2180424516011809531_nBy 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.

Romans 6:1-18

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

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

Ecological Stations of the Cross

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Tanker in the Burrard Inlet near the proposed end of the Kinder Morgan Transmountain pipeline

This liturgical resource was assembled by members of Salal + Cedar (www.salalandcedar.com) and Earthkeepers (www.theearthkeepers.org) two Christian environmental groups on Coast Salish Territory, lower mainland British Columbia who host an Ecological Stations of the Cross each year during Holy Week. Stations of the Cross are a Good Friday tradition of prayer and contemplation on images depicting the events from the time that Jesus is sentenced to death to his burial. We walk outdoors at a site slated for the expansion of a tar-sands bearing pipeline and draw connections between Jesus’ suffering and the suffering and betrayal of creation. The traditional passion narrative from John (18:1-19:42) moves from the betrayal and arrest in the garden to Jesus’ burial. Our stations include action, poetry, song and contemplation when we read from John we use the word Judeans (a more accurate and less anti-semetic translation) instead of “the Jews.”  Themes include: repentance, culpability, betrayal, complicity, empire, suffering, compassion, power/powerlessness, death, lament, longing despair, hope and hopelessness, outrage.

Coast Salish Territory
Water Station (overlook)

Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters. Isaiah 55:1

And Jesus, knowing that all was now finished said, “I thirst.” John 19:28

Here where Fraser River, the Sto:lo, flows into the Salish Sea, where parts of our region are temperate rainforest, our reservoirs are full and we consign gallons of clean drinking water to the sewers with every flush –we can forget, or even ignore, those who thirst. Continue reading

Straight Facts on Water Consumption

WaterAs the issue of water accessibility and affordability intensifies more and more every waking hour, let’s tap into the facts in the ground regarding actual consumption (from a Wall Street Journal article from a few years back).

Households: 4 billion gallons/day

Mineral Extraction: 4 billion gallons/day

Industry: 18.2 billion gallons/day

Agriculture: 128 billion gallons/day

Wild Lectionary: God’s Gonna Trouble the Waters

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Genesis 9:8-15
Mark 1:9-15

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

Water flows through our ancient Judeo-Christian texts. Righteousness pours down like a mighty stream (Amos 5:24), and Jesus offers relief to those who thirst (John 4:13–15). Before whales or eagles or humans did, God dwelt among the waters (Gen 1). The creation of heaven and earth commenced through a parting of the seas. Rains fell, destroying all creatures except those aboard an ark, awaiting a rainbow covenant that promised an end to the waters of judgment (Gen 9:11–17). The Israelites flee from their oppressors to freedom through the miracle of a parting sea that offered safe passage from empire into the wilderness (Exod 14). In the Gospels, Jesus was baptized into the wildness of the river Jordan (Mark 1:9f), became living water at the well (John 4), and shed tears over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). From the beginning, water has offered a call to discipleship. Continue reading

First and Final Acts: Water as Sacrament

100_2372By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

(A reflection written about water and homecomings- the birth of Isaac three years ago and my mom’s passing ten years ago)

Ringing out the warm wash cloth, I laid it upon her face in my final act of love upon this body that had held my own. Drops upon her lips reminded me of a million kisses upon my forehead and pausing on her eyelids I was struck by the power in a glance pierced with love for me. I washed her this hair feeling beneath it to the scars and bone shifts drawing me back to a dozen surgical waiting rooms. In all its simplicity, water empowered within us a sacrament of love and grief. The water which nourished her life with endless joy and beauty now called her home.

In a handcrafted simple wooden box her ashes dwell as deep as we could dig. To earth she has returned. I sit in the rain watching and envying the pine needles that rest upon her body. Even now, long after death, the water nourishes her. My son waddles over picking up pine cones and rests them on his Grandma Jeanie’s little patch of ground unaware yet blessed just the same.

My love for him came with a big gush of water that had held him close for many months. Rushing over his body and down my legs, water baptized us both in a commitment of love altering life forever. Warm washcloth in hand, I washed the blood from his face giving equal care to learn by heart his soft lips and tiny eyelids. As I bathed this beautiful child with water, I welcomed him home.

the strait is not straight

In a paper he delivered at the AMBS Rooted & Grounded Conference last month, the Ecumenical Theological Seminary professor Jim Perkinson reflected on the deep meaning found in the renaming of his beloved Detroit River Watershed in 1701:

“Wawiatonong” the Ojibwa say, the place “where the river goes around,” a name conveying at once respect and locale and abundance. I, however, write from a Detroit become the epitome of thirst and lack. Three centuries ago, the Jesuits came around the bend and re-named the Ojibwa curve a “strait,” “de-troit,” the link between Lakes Erie and Huron, shifting its orientation toward the priority of trade and commodities, a mere conduit in the circuits of global capital, and now the country’s most heavily trafficked “commercial” border.

Continue reading