21 March 2014

The Cycling Clergyman Installment #6 or 7: You Can Do This Too!

First things first.  Now that the snow has melted, for the most part, from the roads you have no excuse not to ride to work, for errands, or pleasure.  I have been peddling for my pastoral duties now for nearly three months, with the aid of the bus and a few parishioners I've been able to fulfill all of my pastoral duties, picked up some much needed exercise, and gained some intimate knowledge about my community, especially the potholes.

So what are you waiting for.  April is 30 days of biking month here in Minnesota, why not take the challenge?  Here is a sharp little video to help you along.


I have had to take a break from my 40 days of Lenten prayers for the earth.  Why?  I couldn't separate my anger from the prayers.  I am aware of anger and the psalms, but it's not that, in fact I am praying those psalms instead.  This will take some theological wrestling on my part (post-Easter).

Perhaps you recall when the new cathedral was built in Los Angeles.  They purposefully built it next to a highway, highways being the rivers of the 21st century.

I often think about that statement, roads as the rivers of transportation today.  I think it every day I ride over the I35Wbridge (35W, a transportation misnomer, for only North South routes are to be labeled in odd numbers, but in Minnesota I-35 splits one corridor to MPLS (35W) and one corridor to St Paul (35E).  I still bristle at this.  Nevertheless, every time I cross 35W (I live in Mpls) I envision the terrible river of traffic.  Terrible because it is a river that at times overflows, but most of the time barely trickles. 

Imagine in half the cars on the road were replaced by mass transit and bikes?  What if the hauling was primarily done via rail?  What if Americans were more intentional about the way we planned our days and managed our trips?  What would the river look like then?  

We'll never be a car free society.  We need autos get from A to B, because not every place is accessible via public transit (have you ever tried to get a week's worth of groceries on the bus, or a couch, or a few 2 x 4s?), and there are emergencies (like when a kid calls sick from school, a parishioner is about to die and wants/needs you there to pray with/for them, & etc), and what about state parks (can you imagine hauling a week's worth of camping supplies on the bus to a state park?  can you even get to a state park via public transit?)  Yet, if we could change our habits slightly we could make huge differences concerning the burning and usage of fossil fuels.  

Maybe Mpls could reclaim a few lanes of 35W, maybe "the river" could be covered with green, thereby linking the communities.  

10 March 2014

Lenten Prayers for the Earth: BP, Royal Dutch Sheel, & ConocoPhillips

What can I say God, I needed to write a sermon Friday and be with my family on Saturday, Sundays dont count during Lent.  So accept my conglomerate makeup prayer for BP, Royal Dutch Shell, & ConocoPhillips. 

I confess it is hard to pray for this group, there is a lot of  personal pain surrounding them.   I can still smell the acrid air when the gulf was on fire, from the refining process, and the continued hypocrisy in the NYTimes ads.  So there is a temptation to only pray Psalms 39 & 88, but I will not.  I still believe in the possibility that you can turn my mourning into dancing. 

So God, come on now.  What is it going to take turn the corporate apparatus in such a way that promotes a sustainable and near zero carbon (I'm still a bit of a realist here) sources of energy and power?  What if every church had a solar panel?  I stand on the bridges over I35W, they are rivers of commerce and transportation - but what if we said, nope!  We will walk, ride bikes, take the bus, take the train.  Would that promote the change we need?  So should my prayers be redirected? 

No, no, no, they have a responsibility to the human family.  What if these companies led the way, what if they were a greater part of the solution providing proactive leadership rather than reactive?  Come on God, what's its going to take?  T

I'm waiting to be surprised...

06 March 2014

Lenten Prayers for the Earth: ExxonMobil

Well God, I didnt see a rise or drop in gas prices or stocks last night.  Nor did I hear about a new solar initiative by ChevronTexaco but I am going to keep praying, keep pestering, and keep nagging you until I do.  On the one hand I do not see a way forward.  I do not see a way to change or bend the direction of the fossil fuel industry.  I have joined efforts and will continue.  I also do not see my demanding action by you as a passive or last ditch effort.  On the other hand I know you are a surprising God, I really do believe you can provide a crack of light that will be a new venture. 

So I ask how can I help love and usher this new reality into being? 

Today I am praying for ExxonMobil.  My first gas card was through Exxon, I liked the color combination.  They are a corporation of transformation, they have helped transform the Alaskan coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the world.  I know they have the power to transform.  I am not buying if and when they cannot say, "We cannot change the way we do business, we are a gas and oil company; not a solar and wind company.  We drill and extract not harness and redirect."  But I know better. They are not lazy, they can change. 

God, give them the push they need.  Amen!

05 March 2014

Lenten Prayers for Climate Change: ChevronTexaco

Living God,

It seems strange to offer my thoughts & love energies to a corporation who is listed as the top extractor of carbon based fuels.  Odd especially, that today I will smudge carbon on the foreheads of the willing for Ash Wednesday.  So on this day when I remember the new life contained in the realization of my own death, I pray for new life for ChevronTexaco too.  For their well-being and my well-being and the well-being of all are intricately tied together.

You know God, no doubt those who run, control, and direct ChevronTexaco are talented, smart, and strategic thinkers.  And I'm sure there are thousands of kind hearted, compassionate, and concerned employees who want a good and flourishing life.  But as a corporation their goal of profit by means of fossil fuels set in motion the change of life on this planet as we know it.

So God...I need you to be the Creator of Heaven and Earth.  I, need you to soften the heart of this corporation in such a manner that allows them to see the promise and flourishing of Creation and the well being of their corporation by switching from fossil fuels to renewable resources of solar and wind.  Create in them a desire to devise new ways to harness the never-ending powers of the sun and gravity that do not emit CO2 into the atmosphere or harmful agents into the soil and water.

Surprise us God.  Show us that you care about human and creation flourishing because I feel defeated when it comes to changing the ways and doings of multinational corporations who pollute and harm the home of all.  God if you are asleep, wake up!  We need you.

Amen & Amen.

04 March 2014

40 Days of Prayers for the Earth

I am an environmentalists.  I am a Christian pastor (a Baptists at that).  I have participated in marches, conducted covert research on coal mining practices, written prayers for the Earth, delivered sermons on the Christian imperative to take care of the earth, and given to environmental causes.  But I need to do more, I invite you to join with me to do more too!  And it will take you less than 10 minutes, and you wont have to go anywhere or hardly do anything!!!

I invite Christians and anyone else involved in the struggle for eco-justice to direct your prayers towards the top 40 carbon polluters of this world, which are also publicly traded corporations.  Each day during Lent I will write a prayer directed at one of the corporations, a prayer for repentance/change/turn; a prayer for a small crack develop in their hardened hearts to create the room for a radical departure from their path of environmental degradation towards human and Creation flourishing.

I will post a different prayer each day here on this blog.  Look for #prayliketheprophets on twitter.

Keep marching, keep giving, keep preaching, keep protesting, keep divesting, and pray like you've never prayed before!

03 March 2014

Ash Wednesday How-to Tutorial

Nothing is worse than an untrained free churcher waiting till the last minute to do an Ash Wednesday service.  Here is your less than 10 minutes tutorial.