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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Actions to Protect Oceans

As individuals and families, what can we do to protect God's oceans?

  • Eat fish that comes from sustainable fisheries

  • Agricultural runoff into streams (and subsequently into oceans) is a major source of water pollution.  Consider buying local organic food that is sustainably grown and does not put pressure on threatened species or habitats.

  • Do not pollute--recycle used oil--and do not litter (plastic bags and six-pack rings easily end up in oceans, where they suffocate and entangle fish, sea turtles, birds, and other creatures).

  • Reconsider taking a cruise.  Cruise ships dump tons of waste directly into the open oceans, where there are no national laws prohibiting the practice.

  • Plant trees, and encourage tree plantings in your community, especially near streams.  Nurture and care for the trees.

  • Pray and act for the conservation of the earth's oceans and have faith that God will answer your prayers and honor your faithfulness to his will.

  • Tell your elected officials that you want government policies that support clean waters and ocean health.
Source:  The Green Bible

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Hymn - When In Our Music God is Glorified

Beautiful organ arrangement of a familiar hymn tune with a nice choral arrangement. I believe we sing these to different lyrics, but lovely all the same.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Actions to Protect Endangered Creatures

What can we do to protect endangered plants and animals?
  • Pray for endangered creatures, including the ones in your own neighborhood and yard.  Pray that God guides you and your family in your actions to care for other creatures as God intends.
  • Speak out on policies that affect endangered species.
  • Do not purchase anything made from endangered species or their parts (e.g., ivory, crocodile skin, corals)
  • Practice sufficiency and contentment in all your purchasing decisions.  Buy only what you need, seek out products that do not contain hazardous materials, and buy products with minimal packaging.  Recycle all materials--including computers--as much as possible, so they do not end up polluting lands and waters where creatures live.
  • Pollute less.  Pollution is a leading cause of species extinction. 
Source: The Green Bible

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A New Deacon!

Last night, Marcia Owens McRae, was ordained a deacon on the Episcopal Church. We celebrate with her as she enters into  a new ministry in the church.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Actions to Protect Health

What can we do to protect the health of everyone?

  • Cut down on air pollution by using public transportation, driving less, and using fuel-efficient vehicles.

  • Make your home more energy efficient.  Buy products with the EPA's Energy Star label, and practice the three Rs---reduce, reuse, recycle.

  • Choose to use fewer chemicals in your home and on your lawn.  Don't use pesticides if you don't have to---look for alternatives.  For cleaning agents, use water, soap, white vinegar, baking soda, borax, and hydrogen peroxide.

  • Ask your pediatrician to take an environmental health history to assess environmental conditions that may prevent your children from reaching optimum health.  Have your children's blood lead levels tested, especially if you spend time in a house built before 1960.

  • Vary your children's diets as much as possible while giving them plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Consider buying organic foods if available.

  • Tell your elected officials that you want government policies to protect children's health from toxic chemicals and other environmental hazards.
Source: The Green Bible

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Hymn - Ye Watchers and Ye Holy One


Words: John A. L. Ri­ley
Music: Lasst Uns Er­freu­en - Pe­ter von Brach­el, harmony by Ralph Vaughan Wil­liams

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reflections on Mother's dying and death

The first phone call came at 6:11 am. Mother was having great difficulty breathing but the nurse said that she had been given some medication to help. She did not think I needed to come, but she would call me back if anything changed. The feeling of dread hatched a huge egg in my chest and everything seemed suddenly to be in black and white. The color drained out of the bedspread, the clothes hanging over the door, the morning light coming into the bedroom. I struggled to get back to sleep for another hour or so.

The second call came as Kent and I were having a late breakfast in our favorite little diner. The smell of bacon and sausage was in the air, and the biscuits on my plate were just perfect. We were discussing what we needed to do and trying to sequence the errands by geography and closing times. The voice on the phone said I hate to tell you but your mother just expired. Expired? Like a coupon? Did she deflate? Oh. You mean she died. “I beg your pardon” came out of my mouth. Your mother … she expired about ten minutes ago. I could see my husband’s hand coming across the table taking mine. We are waiting on the Hospice Nurse to call the time. Do you want us to delay so you can see her or go ahead and contact the funeral home?

For a moment I could not breathe. The call I had prayed for, dreaded, knew was inevitable had come – just a few seconds and it was over. The decisions were now mine to make alone. The struggle was done. Mother was already in her eternal home, seeing all of the glory of God that she has believed and taught me to trust. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Kent knew by the look on my face what had happened and he took all the errands off the table, even though most were his and were important. His calmness and matter-of-fact attitude steadied me. We finished our breakfast, greeted some friends who were leaving the diner and headed to Mother’s house, making the necessary phone calls in route.

Several times during the ride, I reminded myself to breathe as I was not sure that I had done so. The running phrase in my head – my mother is dying – became my mother is dead. The word “dead” sounded artificial and jagged. My tongue found it heavy and hard to say. Dead. A blessing and a grief. The end here and the beginning of joy there. Nothing more to be done – could be done.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Homelessness


Many people are hungry not for bread only,
but they are hungry for ... love.
Many people are not only naked for want of a piece of cloth,
but they are naked for human dignity ...
Homelessness is not only not having a home made of bricks,
but homelessness is being rejected, unwanted, unloved, uncared for.
People have forgotten what the human touch is,
what it is to smile,
for somebody to smile at them,
somebody to recognize them,
somebody to wish them well.

~Mother Teresa

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Prepare Ye The Way

The name of John the Baptist immediately starts the song "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord" from Godspell running through my mind.   During high school, I played that album so much I knew all the songs and I suppose that shares my age.  The image of John the Baptist I see in my mind is not the hippie John of Godspell, rather it is probably one from a children's book of Bible stories.  He is dressed in animal skins with long, wild hair eating bugs!  There is something about the story of John the Baptist that, unlike most Biblical characters, has implanted such sharp images into my mind.  Usually the story is what stays with me, but the mention of John the Baptist provokes pictures and sounds. 

John knew that Jesus was the Son of God, the Anointed One, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the One with God from the beginning!  He not only knew who Jesus was; he was actively preaching for all to prepare themselves, to accept and follow  Him.  Our faith, like John's, impresses on us the need to share our conviction of Jesus as the Son of God, as the Alpha and Omega!  We, too, must prepare the way for Jesus' coming again.  We must prepare ourselves AND share with others.  Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mom's 95th Birthday

 Reflections on my Mother’s Dying

Sunday was my mother’s 95th birthday.  I took her flowers – bright yellow lilies and red Gerber daisies that I thought she could see.  And a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and bright yellow icing flowers on it.  The lovely ladies who take care of her around the clock got her ice cream, a pretty little cake and lovely balloons.  They woke her up and we all sat around her bed eating ice cream and cake.  Mother was fed a small bowl of ice cream and a small piece of cake with lots of icing.  She ate it all.

I remembered the wonderful peach ice cream that Mother made when I was a little girl.  Mother was not known for her cooking – actually she hated cooking.  To her eating was a necessity that was to be completed in the most efficient and practical manner.  She did not linger in the kitchen ever and, as grocery stores prepared more and more foods, Mom was one of their biggest fans!  But in the summer time she would make ice cream – peach or pineapple.  Then Daddy would sit in the shade of the hackberry tree beside the driveway and hand churn the mixture for what seemed hours.  I remember the noise of the tank as it moved the ice around, the taste of the rock salt and the pleasure of seeing the paddle come out of the rich creamy mixture.

I remembered Mother’s 90th birthday.  I had wanted to give her a party – not a big one.  Just ask a few of her women friends to lunch at a nearby restaurant.  But she said no. She did not think anyone would want to have their Saturday disrupted.  And, besides, her friends did not go out much any longer.  I knew at the time that Mother was turning down the pleasure of a party.  She did not often “indulge” in purely social events.  Life for Mother was serious and one should work hard – idleness was to be feared and avoided.  Pleasure was always suspect.

Sitting by her bed on her 95th, I almost wished I had pushed the point and had a party anyway.  A few of those friends are now gone, but several called during the day to leave her a birthday message.  Her caregivers told her about the calls and I think she understood, but the time for parties is gone.  Her time for pleasures is gone and that saddens me.

I found last week in her closet a carefully “saved” umbrella that I had given her years ago.  It is black on the outside with a small bright pink ribbon running around it, but, when you open it, the whole inside is covered in a rose design.  Lots of rich reds and deep pinks.  It is like walking under a bouquet.  When I first opened it, it made me smile and I had hoped Mother would enjoy it too.  I think she said when she received it that it was “too nice to be used”!  Another small pleasure turned down.

Driving home I realized that part of my pain in losing her is hearing her say that she has had a sad life.  And in many ways she did.  But her marriage was long and mostly successful, she has been healthy until very recently and many of her friends are still in touch with her.  Did she multiply her sadness by turning down small pleasures as they were offered?  A rosy umbrella does not stop the rain, but can’t it be a reminder that God is our shield and protector in rain and in sunshine?  I wish I knew what did make her happy, but I didn’t and don’t.  I plan to use the rose umbrella until it is in shreds – I hope she will understand.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Good Samaritan

In the introduction to The Green Bible, J. Matthew Sleeth, M.D. writes:

None of Christ's teachings offers better instruction on how to care for all of God's creation than the parable of the Good Samaritan....

The parable demonstrates a continuum of compassion.  The priest represents those of us who refuse to take any responsibility for environmental problems.  We close out eyes and walk on by.  The second passerby, the Levite, is like most of us.  He sees the problem, then says: "I should get back to Jerusalem and raise awareness.  Maybe I'll blog on the problem of highway muggings or send a letter off to the Roman centurion about beefing up patrols and installing better streetlights."  Like the Levite, we see the hardship caused by environmental problems, particularly for the poorest among us.  Our hearts are moved to compassion, but we do little, if anything, to help.  Only the Samaritan, the one who is least likely to view the mugged man as his neighbor, takes action. 

What does this parable teach us about how we should approach environmental problems today?
  • to have any lasting effect, our hearts must be moved by compassion
  • we may find it dangerous
  • we may have to use our own resources
  • it may be inconvenient
  • it may be expensive
  • we may be ridiculed
  • we will have to take ongoing responsibility
  • everyone is our neighbor, including people across the globe and future generations
All of these lessons apply directly to our environmental problems today.  However, I believe that the most important lesson of the Good Samaritan--the one that can separate us from the priest and Levite--is that we must "get off our donkey" before we can become part of the solution.

How are you 'getting off your donkey'?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunday Hymn - I sing the Almighty Power of God







I sing th'almighty power of God,
that made the mountains rise,
that spread the flowing seas abroad,
...and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day;
the moon shines full at God's command,
and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord,
who filled the earth with food,
who formed the creatures through the Word,
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how thy wonders are displayed,
where'er I turn my eye,
if I survey the ground I tread,
or gaze upon the sky.

There's not a plant or flower below,
but makes thy glories known,
and clouds arise, and tempests blow,
by order from thy throne;
while all that borrows life from thee
is ever in thy care;
and everywhere that we can be,
thou, God art present there.

Words: Isaac Watts, 1715
Music: Forest Green