Prayer, December 19th

Gentle and loving God. Be in this place.

Come as language we can hear ourselves in.

Come to us in music.  Come to us through the sweet melodies of the Messiah.

Come to us as the bright light and warmth of these advent candles.

 Remind us of all the blessings we receive through your grace. Blessings of fellowship.

Blessings in our small groups.

Blessings in our worship space.

 You are generous with Lindenwood Christian Church. You are present with us every time we gather.

Now gracious God, open our hearts and our resources to the ministries of this church. We love our church family. We love the small groups that nourish us.

We love our Sunday School classes that challenge us. We love our angelic choir. We love our rockin’ WOW band.

We love our ministry at Door of Hope and Habitat for Humanity. We love our Church, and, we know that Lindenwood Christian Church is your dwelling place alone.

Give us the courage to offer generous gifts to this church. Assure us that the gifts we offer today will be returned to us through the ministries of this bright beacon we call Lindenwood.

We pray all of these things in Jesus’ sweet name. Amen.

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Prayer, December 12

 Gentle God, our Loyal Prayer Collector, gather up the thoughts and joys and concerns on our hearts. Take our prayers today and hold them. We pour out our rejoicing. We offer up our hurting.

Tender Spirit, we must admit, just like John the Baptist, sometimes we doubt. Despite the twinkling lights of Christmas… despite the promise of hope born in a manger two thousand years ago… we doubt.

Sometimes we look at our world and we cannot see the resurrection. We see brokenness and we feel fear. Sometimes we look at our community and we see anger and violence. Sometimes we cannot see the Prince of Peace in our midst.

Today, we call on You, our Maker. We ask that You remain our steady anchor to lean on when we doubt. We ask that You open our eyes and turn our hearts in the direction of faith. Help us to know that You will answer our greatest needs. Assure us that salvation is on the horizon, yet to come. Amen.

Planting Tiny Seeds of Green

I continue to take baby steps in the direction of my dreams of a Green Church. In January, David Waters, the faith writer in the local paper, contacted me for an interview for an article he was writing on Green Faith. This opportunity gave me the chance to publicly associate my church with the green movement in a small, nonthreatening way. I invited my supervisor to sit in on the interview too. I wanted to make sure Lindenwood as a whole appeared in line with Green Faith, not just their wild haired associate (me!).

On January 8th, David Waters published his editorial about green church in Memphis! On my first day at Lindenwood, we used Styrofoam cups and refused to recycle our 1,000 bulletins each week. Four months later, we are featured in the newspaper as one of the local churches striving for sustainability. These are the tiny seeds of green I continue to plant on my ministerial journey. Here is the article. Enjoy!

Faith in Memphis: Churches move to live lighter on the earth

By: David Waters, Commercial Appeal

Is there a more common symbol of fellowship on God’s green earth than the simple, disposable, environmentally sinful polystyrene foam cup?

Creation is littered with these byproducts of countless congregational coffee hours, committee meetings and covenant groups, not to mention the occasional communion ceremony.

Most of these common cups will be as old as Methuselah by the time they biodegrade.

Waste not, want not, the Bible says. Or was it Benjamin Franklin? In any case, trashing God’s creation is not an expression of faith.

That’s why folks at First Unitarian Church of the River, Lindenwood Christian Church and St. John’s United Methodist Church — to mention a few — are now clutching newfangled compostable paper cups or old-fashioned, reusable ceramic cups.

“International Paper makes the compostable cups, so we’re supporting the environment and the local economy,” said Bill Landers, a business consultant and one of the leaders of Church of the River’s effort to become an accredited Green Sanctuary in the Unitarian Universalist denomination.

If any sanctuary in Memphis should be green, it’s the Church of the River and its environmentally sublime setting on the fourth Chickasaw Bluff just south of Downtown. It’s getting greener every Sunday.

In addition to raising coffee-cup consciousness (and using only fair-trade coffee), the church replaced three of its four boilers with more energy-efficient units, replaced all of its incandescent light bulbs with LED lighting, and installed programmable thermostats.

The congregation hosts the Sierra Club’s annual Environmental Justice Conference. Nearly all weekly newsletters are e-mailed, not printed. The first Sunday of each month is Green Sunday, which includes lessons and workshops on composting, recycling and other acts of faith.

“The way to greening our habitat will not necessarily come from more technology or reverting to a romanticized past,” Rev. Burton Carley said in a sermon that launched the Green Sanctuary program.

“The root of the matter is spiritual . . . Seeing ourselves separate from nature and believing that nature is here only to serve us is at the root of the spiritual problem.”

That’s not an easy lesson for many congregations, especially in a highly charged political context that equates environmental concerns about global warming and carbon emissions with government controls and economic interference.

So instead of using politicized terms like “environmental justice” or “eco-justice,” some clergy have turned to kinder, more personal and faith-friendly terms to engage congregations in conservation efforts.

“Words like ‘stewardship’ and ‘creation care’ resonate more with people of faith,” said Dr. Ron Buck, Lindenwood’s senior minister. “We are starting with small steps.”

Lindenwood is taking steps to reduce, reuse, recycle — and reconnect with creation.

A common chalice has replaced plastic communion cups at two Sunday services. Church officials are using smart-phone apps to control heating and cooling. New bike racks, as well as the church’s proximity to the Green Line, encourage members to cycle to church.

Lindenwood was one of the faith-based sponsors of last fall’s Gather at the River conference. On March 6, it will host Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of the interfaith advocacy group . Among the church’s small groups is one devoted to Care for Creation.

“We’re taking a gentle approach,” said Rev. Sarah Taylor-Peck, Lindenwood’s associate minister. “We’re trying to get people to realize that 400 people changing their light bulbs or not using plastic cups will have a more positive impact on the environment than four people moving off the grid.”

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Repent.

The end of polystyrene foam cups is near.

Care for Creation Tip #3

January marked my final Care for Creation tip because I found a congregant to take leadership on this project! Empowering the people of Lindenwood Christian Church is always my goal. When D volunteered to take the lead on this venture, I celebrated her ambition and initiative. So, gladly I will share my final tip for our monthly newspaper at the church.

Care for Creation: January Tips

FOCUS ON PAPER

 

“The Lord God took the human and put the human in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” -Genesis 2:15

This month, let us all make a new year’s resolution to reduce the paper we use in our homes. Let’s start with catalogs. Every year, 19 billion catalogs are mailed to our homes in the U.S. Ouch! How did we get on all these mailing lists? This month, visit CatalogChoice.org and stop unwanted catalogs from coming to your door.  

In January, consider switching your household paper products, too. Purchase recycled toilet paper instead of virgin fiber toilet paper. This simple change could change the world. If every family in the United States replaced 1 four-pack of traditional toilet paper with recycled toilet paper, we would save one million trees, preserve 356 million gallons of fresh water, and eliminate 60,600 lbs of chlorine pollution. Let us all choose to take care of this beautiful Eden by reducing our need for over-processed virgin paper fiber.*

Finally, we challenge everyone to eliminate paper towels (or, reduce the number of paper towels at home). Consider buying re-usable microfiber towels. Or, purchase paper towels made of recycled materials. If every U.S. household switched one roll traditional paper towels to 100% recycled paper towels, we would save 544,000 trees.  

Recycled paper products are available at: Whole Foods. BONUS: Petition to get these products at your local store. Currently Schnuck’s and Piggly Wiggly do not carry these products.  

If you cancel your catalogs or buy recycled products, we want to know! Email Reverend Sarah Taylor Peck at Sarah.Taylor-Peck(@lindenwood.net).

*Note: Statistics in this article came from NRDC Simple Steps

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