Saturday, February 29, 2020

DAY 4

Image by Casey Yee

Connecting with Creation



A Greeting
O my strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.
(Psalm 59:17)

A Reading
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
(Genesis 9:8-13)

Music
You may wish to try playing today's music and the video at bottom at the same time.




Meditative Verse
May my teaching drop like the rain,
my speech condense like the dew;
like gentle rain on grass, like showers on new growth.
(Deuteronomy 32:2)

A Prayer
Gracious God, your amazing love extends through all time and space, to all parts of your creation, which you created and called good. You made a covenant with Noah and his family, putting a rainbow in the sky to symbolize your promise of love and blessing to every living creature, and to all successive generations... As people of faith, we are called into covenant. Your covenant of faithfulness and love extends to the whole creation. We pray for the healing of the earth, that present and future generations may enjoy the fruits of creation,
and continue to glorify and praise you.
- from “Caring for Creation: Making the World Safe for Children,”
a resource of the National Council of Churches, found on earthministry.org


Verses for the Day
As for me, I was like a canal from a river,
like a water channel into a garden. I said, ‘I will water my
garden and drench my flower-beds.’ And lo, my canal
became a river, and my river a sea.
(Sirach 24:30-31)




Image by Casey Yee



Today’s reading is one of several times in Scripture that God expresses a desire to be in covenantal relationship with God’s people. This covenant is made with Noah, after the devastation of the flood that led to Noah’s evacuation, migration and endless journey by sea. Although we often see it characterized in children’s books and toys with a sense of playful innocence, the story of the flood is a very challenging one, in which we hear how the world appears to vanish and then is restored. One pair of each species, including humankind, is preserved by God so that life can go on. In this story, even God has a moment of regret, followed by a commitment to renewal, and more importantly to upholding humankind always. A covenant is a commitment between agreeing partners, to faithfully uphold each other not just in specific legal terms, but with the whole heart. A covenant is a pledge that lives in and with God. Water often participates in a sign of covenant, as in the waters of baptism. From the living waters of the Gihon Spring to the rivers of Revelation, water in Scripture is a marker of life and healing. Therefore we are familiar with a biblical story in which water holds portents of death and destruction and also of transformational healing. On Saturdays and Sundays this Lent, we are taking time to reflect on the journey of the week, looking back and previewing what is ahead. It is also a time of reflecting on how the Lenten projects of other years have reflected on the same issues that concern us today. On the first Saturday of the first devotional project in 2011, the short reflection responded to the earthquake and tsunami that had devastated Japan the day before. (See that page here.) People around the world watched in horror as videos emerged online of entire communities being swept away. In 2015, we revisited that page and also visited the Yakushima wilderness, an UNESCO Man and the Biosphere reserve on the island that lies at the southwesternmost tip of the Japan in the East China Sea. (See that page here.) In 2011, the reserve largely escaped the impact of the tsunami but in 2015 the island was experiencing sulfur pollution arriving downwind from manufacturing plants in mainland China. Today, the white pines are still affected by pollution, but the reserve itself remains a well-preserved oasis that speaks to the raw beauty of God’s Creation. It has endured more than twenty-five hundred years of human and ecological history and is one of the few places in the world where there is no sign of tree cutting. Noah lives to see a green leaf in the beak of a bird. We too can find new life. As we journey with climate change, we can choose to continually recommit ourselves in faithful covenant to each other and to our neighbour Creation. When we join with others to think about practices for coping with climate change, we are making our own bow in the sky. What is your covenant with God in regard to the climate? Can you form one in prayer today?

A HIKE IN YAKUSHIMA ISLAND BIORESERVE






LC† Reimagining Justice is a project of
Lutherans Connect / Lutheran Campus Ministry Toronto,

supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Join us on Facebook and follow us @LutConnect

Friday, February 28, 2020

DAY 3

Image Source

Oceans and Plastic: 3



A Greeting
Turn, O God, save my life;
deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
(Psalm 6:4)

A Reading
God scatters the snow like birds flying down,
and its descent is like locusts alighting.
The eye is dazzled by the beauty of its whiteness,
and the mind is amazed as it falls.
God pours frost over the earth like salt,
and icicles form like pointed thorns.
The cold north wind blows,
and ice freezes on the water;
it settles on every pool of water,
and the water puts it on like a breastplate.
(Sirach 43:17b-20)

Music



Meditative Verse
From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven? 
(Job 38:29)

A Poem Prayer
With wide-embracing love
They spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though Earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And thou wert left along
Every Existence would exist in thee

There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou are Being and Breath
And what thou are may never be destroyed.
- by Emily Bronte
found in The Flowering of the Soul: A Book of Prayers by Women
ed. by Lucinda Vardey


Verse for the Day
We will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.
(Psalm 80:18)




Microplastics embedded in sea ice found in the Arctic.
(PhysOrg)



In the past two days, we have seen how plastic is finding its way into our oceans, and can be found even at the very bottom of the sea. This third and last day of Oceans and Plastic explores the plastic that is embedded in Arctic sea ice and the unwanted changes wreaked on the Arctic by global warming. The image immediately above is a sheet of Arctic sea ice gathered by scientists, which shows entrapped particles of microplastics. It was found deep inside an ice block. (Source) Sampling from five different Arctic regions, these scientists found approximately twelve thousand bits of microplastic — per litre of ice, making Arctic sea ice many times more a repository for plastic garbage than even the Pacific gyres that were mentioned yesterday. Andrea Sparrow is a photographer and videographer with the Arctic Arts Project, a group of visual arts communicators who, working with scientists and educators, make “immersive” visual art that is both beautiful and informative about climate change in the Arctic. In the video below, Sparrow narrates what she herself witnessed on a field expedition in Greenland while a series of images that she and others captured, unfolds visually. “We simply don’t have time to make slow changes to our way of life,” says Sparrow. These deeply unsettling words challenge us in every possible way, even as we are awestruck by the beauty of the images that Sparrow and others captured. How can it be possible that such catastrophic reality lies embedded in such a wondrously beautiful place? In today’s reading, we hear the Wisdom writer Sirach describing the birth of Creation, and in particular God’s formation of winter elements. He too uses vivid imagery to capture our imagination. “From whose womb did the ice come forth?,” asks Job referring to God in a whole chapter of rapturous wonder at Creation. In Psalm 139, the psalmist tells us that each of us, also, was formed in the womb of the earth. All of these biblical writers are reminding us that when we seek God's help, we are returning to the origin of our being, and no request is too great. How does this motivate us today? How can we be comforted by knowing that God is present with us as we move to make change?

A CREATIVE PROJECT
This video was prepared as a presentation for a conference of the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature in August, 2019.
Note: mobile users may need to tap several times to make video play.






LC† Reimagining Justice is a project of
Lutherans Connect / Lutheran Campus Ministry Toronto,
supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Join us on Facebook and follow us @LutConnect

Thursday, February 27, 2020

DAY 2

Image Source


Oceans and Plastic: 2




A Greeting
Bless the Lord, seas and rivers;
sing praise and highly exalt God forever.
(Prayer of Azariah 1:55)

A Reading
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying,‘I called to the Lord out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, “I am driven away from your sight; how shall I look again upon your holy temple?” The waters closed in over me; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped around my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me for ever; yet you brought up my life from the Pit, O Lord my God. As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.
(Jonah 2:1-9)

Music


Meditative Verse
God uncovers the deeps out of darkness,
and brings deep darkness to light.
(Job 12:22)

A Prayer
Companion God,
Understander of our living,
Forgiver of our failings,
Inspirer of our best efforts,
Encourager of our fearful selves,
We think of the oceans, seas, lakes, wetlands,
rivers, creeks, waterholes, of our lives.
Their essential place in our very survival....
Help us to find the like-minded people, the sacrificial souls,
the energy-filled campaigners, the struggling causes,
the visionaries who not only plumb the deep with new technology,
but save the planet in sometimes tiny acts.
Encourage us to love,
in Jesus name.
- from "Prayer for the Oceans" by Mary Heinemann
found on stkildaunitingchurch.org


Verse for the Day
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
(Psalm 65:5)





A sea worm devours half of a plastic bottle, in the Mariana
Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. (Image Source)




The ‘deeps’ in the Old Testament is an image that often appears metaphorically as a symbol of the soul’s relationship to God. The Hebrew word ‘tehom’, occurs most often in the book of Job, where it is associated with a darkness that is unfathomable, unsurvivable, even as it is also a part of God. In today's reading it is used by Jonah to describe the space he finds himself in when he has not been able to listen to God. He is saved by remembering God and learning to yield to God's will. Yesterday, the contemporary art project imagined a whale surrounded by a sea of plastic bottles. Today, our artists have made their work from the actual material found in the body of a whale that died from malnutrition, but who had swallowed four hundred and fifty pounds of fishing nets. The artists added to the sculpture they made, with some of the tonnes of plastic garbage that they regularly scavenge on a one-kilometre stretch of a beach in California. Plastic has recently been found in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, thirty-six thousand feet below sea level. Only three expeditions have ever gone to the Trench in the west Pacific, in part because it takes three and a half hours to descend. A plastic bottle and a bag had made their way down there, lying among creatures that never see light. Creatures like the ‘stalked crinoid’, pictured at top, which is a sea animal in the same family with starfish. A creature as large as a whale and as small and delicate as a crinoid must live in the fragile ecosystem that is our oceans — and must coexist with a gyre of garbage which, even in just one location in the Pacific (there are many), is twice the size of Texas. It is out of this place of immense contradictions and terrifying failures that the deep deep love of Jesus rises to meet us. The love of Jesus holds us in our most vulnerable moments of self-reckoning. “Part of gaining control of one’s fears is bringing them to life, bringing them into reality,” says today’s artist in the video below, adding that the role of the artist is "making visible what we don't see." The sculpture that they make from the nets is a ghoulish monster, reflective, perhaps, of our confused, uncertain and even indifferent selves. The call of Lent is to confront that part of us that wants to stay indifferent, knowing that the deep love of Jesus holds us no matter where we are in the journey and encourages us on. How can we confront the ghost within ourselves, which does not want to face these realities, so that we can live into our own deep deep love for God and for God’s Creation? How can we reimagine a future for the whale, the crinoid, and ourselves, where all are thriving and in harmony and have plenty to eat?

A CREATIVE PROJECT




LC† Reimagining Justice is a project of
Lutherans Connect / Lutheran Campus Ministry Toronto,

supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Join us on Facebook and follow us @LutConnect

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

ASH WEDNESDAY - DAY 1

Image Source

Oceans and Plastic: 1




A Greeting
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10)

A Reading
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the
wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days,
tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts;
and the angels waited on him.
(Mark 1:12-13)

Music



Meditative Verse
You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
(Psalm 51:6)

A Reflection
You alone know my sinfulness, my imperfections, faults.
Help me, above all, in courage. I want to walk your way. Here I am.
Make me a saint even if it breaks me in the making.
I want to be filled with You as a cistern is filled with water
- clear and cool in the desert of life.
- by Catherine de Hueck Doherty,
found in The Flowering of the Soul: a book of prayers by women
ed. by Lucinda Vardey


Verses for the Day
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.
(Psalm 46:1-2)








Ash Wednesday is a day when we begin a journey back toward making God the center of our lives. The fact that we make this practice every year means that at other times of the year we inadvertently lose our way. It is part of the human experience to have to learn and relearn: the Old Testament is filled with references to the God who forgives over and over the transgressions of the Israelites and Jesus is always calling us into self-examination. But how are we doing in our own lessons about the sustainability and health of creation? Having begun to pray for Creation in Advent, our focus turns in Lent to a broader picture. Climate Justice refers to a way of thinking about environmental degradation for its ethical and justice consequences. In the coming days, we will push ourselves to study where we are repeating choices in our lives that directly or indirectly have consequences for our environment and for the well-being of those who live in other parts of the world. In a recent article (linked), Wired Magazine revealed that many multi-national oil companies are concerned about possible losses of revenue from a reduction in fossil fuel use due to fears of climate change. Therefore, in order to meet a desired bottom line financially, they are ramping up their plastic production — to help make up the possible deficit. Although there is plenty of scientific data and media coverage of the impact of plastics on our oceans to warrant a drastic reduction of plastic production and consumption, these business leaders and many others continue to focus on goals we have always known. In Lent, how can we repent in such a way as to truly break the cycles of our dependency on what harms the planet and affects the lives of others? How can we reimagine our own relationship to the crisis? In her art installation “The Bristol Whales”, British sculptor Susannah Lipscombe attempts to “draw attention to plastic waste in our oceans” (source) by creating a sculpture of two whales diving and emerging from a sea of plastic waves, made from seventy thousand plastic bottles discarded during a single marathon race in Bristol. How often are we tempted in our daily lives to forgo our commitment to creation? When we participate in activities like a marathon race without suggesting changed practices, when we book a carbon-heavy holiday plan, when we are not diligent with our garbage, how are we paving the way toward the next Ash Wednesday? The truest meaning of repentance is transformational change. As we embark on a journey with Jesus into the wilderness, how can we reimagine the wilderness not as a place we travel to, but as a place right in our midst, in our communities and homes? How can we be challenged to leave the wilderness of where we are living, to emerge into the new creation we can make together?

A CREATIVE PROJECT





LC† Reimagining Justice is a project of
Lutherans Connect / Lutheran Campus Ministry Toronto,

supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Join us on Facebook and follow us @LutConnect

Friday, February 14, 2020

WELCOME

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LC† Reimagining Justice

 from February 26th - April 12, 2020.




Lutherans Connect will be offering a daily devotional
during Lent, beginning Wednesday, February 26th.


Join us then, as we look for ways to deepen our
discipleship while preparing our hearts to be in the
wilderness with Jesus.




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