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Environmental Stewardship Commission
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Episcopal Church in Minnesota

 
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We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.


Resolutions:

Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds


Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations

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Reflections:
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If you find the information in this reflection to be of interest or concern, please contact MEESC Members.

Members of MEESC reside around the Diocese of Minnesota and are available to assist you and your congregation in their environmental stewardship walk.

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Creation Season 2011 (Year A)
Underground

Welcome! We're glad you're planning on observing a liturgical season of creation. We have prepared some materials for you to use in worship, teaching, and personal reflection.

The Notes on the readings for this topic are available for you to use. You may

  • copy and paste what you wish from this page directly to your preparation materials or
  • download the materials as part of a reference materials for the individuals involved in preparing religious education, homilies, or special liturgical materials for your Service.

This Sunday's topic is the Underground. The following themes may be useful in preparing a sermon, prayers, or study:

Cavernous; dripping cool, steadiness; deep depths go from cool to very hot; rosemary bushes; secrets hidden underneath; holding aquifers; aquifers being depleted to prode us with winter lettuce and strawberries; belching earthquakes; safety of the hidden (Dead Sea Scrolls); protector from the dangers of the world; hideout.

Facts:

  • Earth passed through four distinct phases from its formation to the present. They are fairly typical phases for all terrestrial planets to have gone through:
    • differentiation, separation of material according to density
    • heavy cratering
    • Flooding
    • surface evolution
  • Earth has an average density of 5.52 g/cm3. The crustal material has a density of 2.8 g/cm3. (Source: Earth:Under the Surface)
  • The core is made up of iron and nickel and the density is estimated to be at least 14 g/cm3 and about 70000 K, hotter than the surface of the Sun. (Source: Earth:Under the Surface)
  • The crust is the outermost layer of the Earth. It is the familiar landscape on which we live: rocks, soil, and seabed. It ranges from about five miles (eight kilometers) thick beneath the oceans to an average of 25 miles (40 kilometers) thick beneath the continents. (Source: National Geographic)
  • The next layer is the mantle. Many people think of this as lava, but it's actually rock. The rock is so hot, however, that it flows under pressure, like road tar. This creates very slow-moving currents as hot rock rises from the depths and cooler rock descends. (Source: National Geographic)
  • By the large-scale process of plate tectonics, about twelve plates, which contain combinations of continents and ocean basins, have moved around on the Earth's surface through much of geologic time. The edges of the plates are marked by concentrations of earthquakes and volcanoes. (Source: US Geologic Service)

Alternate Scripture Readings:

One or more of the following readings could be used in place of those specified in the lectionary:

  • Genesis 23: 1-20
  • I Samuel 24
  • Jeremiah 31: 35-37
  • Psalm 142 (A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A Prayer.)

Non-Scriptural Writings

In place of or in addition to a scripture reading, you may use an alternative reading. We offer these for your consideration:

Reflection on Earthquake, Safety and Impermanence

Josephine is an Italian friend of Expatclic. Married to a Scottish charming man, she has three children and has been living as an expat since she was 21. She has lived in England, India, The Philippines, Indonesia, and Peru. Expatclic talked about her life and work in this article, and about her family here.
Josephine was in Lima, last year in August, when a terrible earthquake hit Peru. Here are some reflections she made after the experience. Thank you Josephine!

To be a sudden and helpless participant in an event like last August 15th 7.8 Pisco earthquake is to be suddenly and helplessly beyond the reach of everything one has ever been taught, every book one has ever read, every psychological theory - in short, beyond every normal, human expectation.
Without warning one evening as we were preparing dinner, the earth began to move. We ran outside as we have done so many times before. In the kitchen our ravioli were cooking, outside in the street the screams of children and the cries of parents, we huddled together and waited for the end to come! The shaking was very strong, rocking our house back and forth as though it were held in some great hand and being toyed with. We were shaking and the walls were shaking - our bodies were both being shaken by the quake and shaking within us, a double onslaught. Then the building stopped shaking but we didn’t.

The panic we feel, both in the aftermath of a quake and in the prospect of future quakes, is that quakes render our usual words and concepts useless. Our plans seems futile, our hopes feel fragile, our ambitions trivial. Our shared assumptions were crashed, a world in which if we work hard, stay focused, watch out diet, live decently, and try to be conscious of our feelings and our thoughts, we’ll be all right, we’d “grow”, as they say. We’d learn to be happy and whole. Now we had learned that our world could be swept aside in an instant and there was nothing we could do about it. We had experienced a moment in the life of the planet, on the planet’s own terms. This is simply the behaviour of the planet we live on. The Earth lives. Living things move.

Plans, hopes and ambitions are ways that organize today in terms of tomorrow. It is, of course, inevitable that we behave this way- tomorrow is real, it does come, and without some sort of hope, plan and ambition, tomorrow tends to come chaotically in ways we’re ill prepared for. But earthquakes and upheavals also come. Tomorrow is full of them. They are inevitable; as we are finding out they are virtually impossible to plan adequately for. But these very things, that upheavals are inevitable and impossible to plan for - may be gifts to us. The late Achaean Chah Subato a monk from Thailand, had access to a stronger way of thought. One day people came to him and asked:”How can you be happy in a world of such impermanence, where you cannot protect your loved ones from harm, illness and death?” He held up a glass and said. : "Someone gave me this glass, and I really like this glass. It holds my water admirably and it glistens in the sunlight. I touch it and it rings! One day the wind may blow it off my shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already broken. So I enjoy it incredibly".

To build one’s life on a fantasy of safety is, paradoxically, to be in more danger than we have to be. For when the inevitable danger manifests, when the Earth inevitably shakes, when illness inevitably comes, when the glass inevitably breaks, it cracks not only our buildings but our hearts and our sanity if we have staked too much on a fantasy of security. The inevitability of danger is not the end of the world. It’s the beginning. We are not Zen masters, like Achaean Chanh Subato, but we are human beings who can begin to understand that “we are all earthquake people”, people who interact not only with each other but with forces far greater than ourselves. Those forces should not only humble us, they should focus us. The presence of great forces beneath our feet, in our skies and seas is like a voice telling us to live this day, to open our hearts to this moment, to be guided by our deepest feelings every hour of each day. Our planet is beautiful, but it is not safe. Our lives can be endlessly interesting, happy, and sad but they can’t be safe. We can accept our fear of earthquakes as a teacher, teaching us to stay focused on what is most genuine in our lives. To live in honesty for Today!

Josephine
Lima, Peru
August 2008
Source: Expatclic.com

Cave Reflection

Five kilometers northwest of Guilin downtown (Guangxi, China) is the brilliant Reed Flute Cave (Ludiyan) located. The cave is named after the reeds which grow at its entrance that were once used to make flutes with legendary musical qualities.

Inside this water-eroded cave is a spectacular world of various stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations created by carbonate deposition. Illuminated by colored lighting, the fantastic spectacle is found in many variations along this 240-meter-long cave.

There is a popular view of this cave found here

Allegory of the Cave Reflection

Note: This is a reflection upon Socrates' "Allegory of the Cave" and how it applies in today's society.

The idea that all of humankind is completely in the dark or completely in the light on subjects is a little unerring. Socrates implies in the allegory that all people are either in the cave, subject to the shadow images, or out in the light, facing the truth. There really is no common ground, no synthesis in this matter. One is either in the presence of lies and falseness or completely enlightened, experiencing the true facts and figures of life. One can't be partway, with an understanding of both the deceit of the cave and the reality of the world. For one cannot believe that both deceit and truth are in fact truth, can he? Because if he believes that any of the lies are true, then all of the truth in his life may be lies as well.

The whole situation brings up the question: What is reality? The poetic and lofty definition may be that reality is whatever you make it. However, seeing something in a different way that someone else does not justify your reality, or their reality for that matter, to be the one in truth. For instance, if a red pen and a blue pen is shown to a man once and, then, the same set a second time and he decides the pens aren't the same colors as before does not mean that his reality has changed. Reality may not be changed, but one's perception of that reality can have as many variations as humanly possible.

It is in this context that the cave-dwellers and the enlightened one's are placed. The cave slaves are completely content with their settings because they have no perception of the truth and, thus, take the lies to be their way of life instead. The same goes for the ones in the light: they know there are in the truth, seeing things clearly, and are conditioned to see the shadows of the cave as horribly wrong. But what if the truth the ones in the light see is a lie also? What then is the true essence of our reality. Reality doesn't seem to be something we as humans can pinpoint and live out, for there is always the possibility that we are living the lies rather than the truths, in the dark rather than the light, without knowledge rather than with it. Which brings us back to the beginning: How then can humans live a life of truth when there are so many reflexive lives of lies?
Source: BookRags, Inc. 1956 Ambassador Way Spokane, WA 99224-4001

Another view of caves (from Plato's perspective) is available here: An essay on Plato’s Myth of the Cave.

Also, there is a good reflection about caves and the underground in Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings From the Northumbrian Community (ISBN: 978-0-06-001324-9), HarperCollins, New York, copyright © 2002 by the Northumbrian Community.

Some additional readings can be found in Earth Prayers From around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth, Edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon; Published by Harper Colllins. The readings below (with their authors noted) may fit within this topic.

Page
Author
162
Allah Renee Bozarth
165
Thomas Merton
172
Mary Rogers - Gaelic
200
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin*
203
Ashanti Prayer
204
Irish Blessing*
219
African Canticle

* Useful as litany or adapted to prayers of people

Music:

There is a large selection of creation-related hymns found on the MEESC Listing of Creation and Environmental Music.

Educational Ideas:

To be added

Prayers:

To be added

Some discussion topics:

  1. Have you ever been in an earthquake? How did it make you feel?
  2. Have you ever gone deep into a cave? Did you feel safe, secure, protected? How did this experience impact on how you approached the environment and your place in it?
  3. Is there a sense of being a prisoner when you consider the earth and our place on it?
  4. One can apply a variant of the Gospel Based Discipleship questions to almost any reading or situation:
    A. What particularly jumps out at you or gets your attention?
    B. What is this reading/information/situation saying to us?
    C. What is this reading/information/situation calling us to do?

Revised Common Lectionary Readings:

PDF Version of these notes:

To the other Topics in this series
Underground
May 1, 2011
May 8, 2011
May 15, 2011
May 22, 2011
May 29, 2011
June 5, 2011
This Page

Note: The Reflections and Notes for this Sunday were prepared by the Rev Wanda Copeland and Chuck Morello, with contributions from the Rev Margaret W. Thomas, John G. Gibbs, PhD, and the Rev Tom Harries.

  • The Rev Wanda Copeland was Interim Rector of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Roseville, MN, when she originally prepared these materials
  • Chuck Morello was the MEESC Webverger and a licensed lay preacher who attended St. James' Episcopal Church, Hibbing, MN, when he contributed to these materials
  • The Rev Margaret W. Thomas was a retired Episcopal Priest residing in Duluth, MN, and doing supply work when she contributed to these materials
  • John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids, MN, when he contributed to these materials
  • The Rev Tom Harries was the co-chair of MEESC and the rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, St. Peter, MN, when he contributed to these materials

Wanda, Chuck, Margaret, Tom, and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Wanda Copeland, Chuck Morello, Margaret Thomas, John G. Gibbs, Tom Harries, or any MEESC member, or mail them to:


MEESC
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

   

This page last updated 2011-05-17.

 
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