As we write this invitation, the World Meteorological Organization along with NOAA and NASA all have data showing 2010 tied with 2005 for being the hottest year on record . We also read that in December 2010, Arctic sea-ice cover was the lowest on record. Just as humanity now recognizes climate change as a predominant scientific, economic and political issue, we also realize it is a profound moral issue. Life on earth as we know it is mortal – it is susceptible to change, harm and, yes, death.
Ash Wednesday (March 9, 2011) invites us into the season of Lent – a time within the church year to acknowledge that we are mortal, limited. Lent awakens us to hope in God whose “steadfast love endures forever” and to struggle against everything that leads us away from the love of God and neighbor. The Lenten disciplines of repentance, fasting, prayer, study and works of love are guides for returning to the steadfast love of God.
During Lent we confess our mortality, our limits and our vulnerability so that we might be transformed and become the new life God calls us to be.
We invite you to join us as we commit to fasting from carbon during Lent.
Beginning Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, participants will receive a daily email with the day’s suggested carbon-reducing activity. When possible, this will include a quantitative measure of the carbon reduction resulting from the activity. Each daily email will also have a section suggesting a weekly focus for the congregation.
The activities will range from the very simple: unplug electrical devices (such as phone chargers) which you’re not using but use electricity even when o”; to the moderately challenging: reduce your driving speed, plan trips efficiently, walk, ride a bike, carpool or take public transportation when feasible; to a few which require a longer term commitment: buy local produce and consider getting involved in a community garden.
We don’t expect everyone to be able to do everything suggested; but serious consideration of each day’s activity can raise people’s awareness, inviting them to think more carefully about how their day to day living impacts the environment and make the changes they can. In addition to the activity for the day you will and information about the carbon impact of the activity, along with links to more information related to that activity. While we consider all of the activities a form of spiritual practice, a concrete way of participating in the stewardship of God’s creation, some of the activities are overtly spiritual in the more usual sense that people understand the word: meditation, prayer, self-reflection. The intention is to provide do-able actions which can make a difference; not to overwhelm people, make them feel bad about themselves, or cause them to feel that the situation is hopeless. We want people to feel better for doing this as well as challenging themselves to do more.
Congregations that participate are encouraged to gather weekly to share their experiences, support one another, compare notes, share resources and pray.
This invitation is being emailed to pastors all over the country by UCC Conference Ministers and by our counterparts in numerous denominations. In this way we will make this Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast a broadly experienced ecumenical spiritual practice. Our hope is that Christians the world over from every denomination might participate in this carbon fast.
By the way, the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast now has a Facebook page. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, March 9, each day’s activity will be cumulatively posted on this page. Click here to go to the Facebook page.
God is calling us to be the change we long to see. Let us engage this spiritual discipline, grateful for all God has entrusted to us, and trusting that with God all things are possible.