Tuesday, January 21, 2014

the Pastor's bookshelf

Ok, I confess (because confession is good for the soul)  that I haven't made great strides in my no Hulu/read a book from the pile goal.   But on my trip to Casper, WY last week I read two books from the pile!
 Three Methodist women writers, Two books, One topic!

A Hopeful Earth: Faith, Science, and the Message of Jesus by Bishop Sally Dyck and Sarah Ehrman
Green Church: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Rejoice! by Rebekah Simon-Peter

Both books take on the seriousness of our climate crisis and how the Christian community can respond to bring transformation in the name of Jesus.   Both books are great resources for people/communities of faith who need a Biblical/theological basis for talking about the environment and our call to care for the earth.

Bishop Dyck writes A Hopeful Earth with her niece Sarah Ehrman who is a science teacher.  Their book takes on the science vs faith debate head on and is filled with in-depth Bible study that relates to what science is telling us about our over-consumption.   The book starts with a very broad view of the climate crisis looking at some of the most troubling areas of concern and how readers of the Bible can see that Jesus/God cares about creation and wants us to care for it as well.  For two chapters, they look at "the love of stuff" and how it is making "hell all around us".  I felt like these two chapters in particular made the problems so overwhelming that seeing how one person or one church could make a difference was near impossible.  The biggest drawback that I saw to this book was the lack of solutions.  They take one chapter to look just at water-related issues and how lack of water is a leading cause of war in our world.  They also spend a chapter on food, its production and its connection to environmental damage.  If I were using this book to lead a Bible Study or a local church book club, I think that the enormity of the problems would overwhelm persons who had not yet looked at or considered the climate crisis.  While each chapter ends with "A Commitment" (suggestions on what to do this week about the problems raised in the chapter), they weren't very practical suggestions.  They seemed tacked on thoughts that really left you feeling like there wasn't much you as an individual or your church could do to meet the needs.

Rebekah Simon-Peter (an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church) writes a very practical approach to the climate change crisis.   Her chapters are action words: Repent, Reclaim, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rejoice.  Like Bishop Dyck, Simon-Peter also has great Bible study that shows God's love for creation and humanity's role in caring for the earth as well as solid science on the harm being done to the earth by our lack of concern.   What impressed me the most about Green Church  is that is framed around what we can do to bring change.  Her use of the action words for each chapter highlighted that we can do something about this situation - I got the message that we are God's people, we are powerful, and there is much we can do.

It was fun for me to read two such similar books in a short amount of time (on plane rides).  They use some of the same scripture and even examples in their writing.  Yet there are some important differences.   Bishop Dyck's book speaks more to the enormity of the issue, I felt physically sick about the damage we have done the earth reading the many, many examples of destruction she gave.  Simon-Peter's book was far more hope-full and made me feel empowered to take some concrete steps to care for the earth.  I would really recommend that for local churches doing a book study start with Simon-Peter's book Green Church.  And if you want to go further or want more details on the damage done to the earth by humanity then pick up A Hopeful Earth.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Welcome Pastor Joseph

Had a lovely morning coffee with Pastor Joseph May, pastor at the Light of the Lakes Church in Arnolds Park.  He is a caring and articulate man of faith, it was a delight to chat with him.  I hope everyone at Calvary will join me in praying for him and his beautiful family.   May God bless them with a long and fruitful ministry at LOTL!

Way too often, Christian churches are territorial about ministry - especially churches in the same town.  While we all preach and serve Christ, our styles and emphases are different and we are going to reach different people for Jesus.  Its not about us, promoting ourselves - its about Jesus and helping those who don't know Jesus' love.  There are plenty of unchurched/ de-churched persons in the Arnolds Park area for our churches to serve!   So lets pray for and support each other without fear or condemnation.  Lets only speak well of each other and hope the best for each other.  We are one body in Christ - when one succeeds we all rejoice and when one hurts we all hurt.  Lets pray for Pastor Joseph's leadership success that we may all rejoice God has blessed this community with healthy churches doing powerful ministry in Jesus' name.