Standing Rock: Good tidings of great joy

Faith and fear duke it out I am not a brave person. In fact, I am quite familiar with anxiety. I know what it’s like to wake up wide-eyed in the middle of the night, imagining the future with dread. Deciding to go to Standing Rock was not easy. I heard in late November that Chief Arvol Looking Horse was urging people of faith to travel to Oceti Sakowin Camp …

We are the earth: public prayer for the planet

Last Tuesday, Americans voted into office a Presidential candidate who has embraced fossil fuels, called climate change a hoax, and vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Yesterday, five days later, Christians from across Massachusetts gathered on a hillside to reaffirm our dedication to restoring God’s creation. Led by five of the top Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders in our Commonwealth, we prayed and sang under an open sky as …

Resilience, before and after the election

With only a few days left before the Presidential election, the city of Washington, D.C., is humming with anxiety. The taxi driver from Ethiopia asks, “Have you voted already?” Two people jog toward me in a park north of the Capitol, deep in conversation. As they pass, I hear one of them say, with alarm, “….and the difference is only 3%!” My friend, an environmental lawyer with the Interior Department, …

Climate change: An emergency of the heart

Text of a keynote address for “An Interfaith Climate Justice Meeting” organized by Springfield Area Interfaith Climate Action Network (SAICAN), held at First Church of Christ, Longmeadow, MA, on October 30, 2016 Thank you for inviting me to speak. I am excited by what you’re up to as a coalition, and very interested to see what emerges from today’s meeting. I have worked with some of you. Some of you …

Oh, the places you’ll go!

A brief presentation to lay and clergy deputies of the 115th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, delivered on October 29, 2016. The three missional priorities of The Episcopal Church are evangelism, racial reconciliation, and environmental stewardship. This talk about environmental stewardship in our diocese came after talks on evangelism (by Rev. Nancy Strong) and racial reconciliation (by Rev. Harvey Hill). Thank you for inviting me to …

What roles can faith communities take on in a time of crisis?

Imagine there is a fire in your house. What do you do? What do you think about? You do whatever you can to try to put out the fire or exit the house. You make a plan about how you can put out the fire, or how you can best exit the house. Your senses are heightened, you are focused like a laser, and you put your entire self into …

Sixteen clergy arrested, singing for our lives

The day before I got arrested, I woke up singing. “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around, turn me around, turn me around. Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.” Resolve filled me as I sang my way through the tasks of the day, preparing for the morrow. Do you want to gather your courage? Lift your spirits? Find your true north? Stay the course? You get there by singing. …

Pray the bird

Sometimes I am perfectly capable of scanning large swathes of bad news with aplomb, keeping my feelings at bay. I know how to brace myself before I open the morning paper, turn on the TV, or scan the news online. OK, world, I’m ready! Bring it on! Give me the latest list of apocalyptic woes! I can take it! I can handle it without blinking an eye! But then comes …

Protesting Pipelines on Palm Sunday

On Day #3 of a four-day, 46-mile walk to stop the construction of the Kinder Morgan NED pipeline, scores of activists gathered in the sanctuary of St. James Episcopal Church in Greenfield, Massachusetts, for a spirited rally organized by Sugar Shack Alliance. St. James Church is a grand old beauty of a building, a neo-Gothic stone structure that was consecrated in 1849. The sanctuary buzzed with excitement as a diverse …

Thanks, Wow, Help

A presentation to clergy and lay leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts that was given on Parish Leadership Day, March 5, 2016. A handout of suggested action steps is available for download here. Friends, I’d like to take a page from writer Anne Lamott, who wrote a book a few years ago called Help, Thanks, Wow. She calls these our three most basic prayers, and they make a …