Good Tidings           
The Earth, Spirit, Action Team (ESA) Newsletter
St. Matthew’s United Church   
Dec.15, 2021                                          No. 8______   
                    Advent 2021
“Blest be the God of Israel, Who comes to set us free; Who visits and redeems us, Who grants us liberty. The prophets spoke of mercy, of freedom and release; God shall fulfill that promise and bring the people peace.”     (Michael Perry’s musical rendition of Song of Zechariah, Luke 1: 67-79)   Voices United  -  901                                                                              Welcome to the eighth issue of Good Tidings. The ESA Team newsletter provides information on local and global environmental and climate change issues; suggestions for personal and political actions that will build a healthy planet; information about symposiums, webinars, resources, and petitions from other environment and climate change organizations; and information about environmentally themed worship and prayer opportunities.  We would like to hear from you at
Margaret Machum

During Lent, I offered tips to promote our well-being and the sustainability of Earth. While Lent is traditionally a time of giving up, I suggested that we spend the 40 days giving to ourselves. First we were to find a quiet space where we could meditate and think about our lives and the things we do. It was hoped that, in doing so, we would grow to realize the need to change our actions and make lifestyle changes for the betterment of our lives and world.

Now, here we are in the season of Advent, traditionally a time of waiting. We are waiting for the birth of Jesus, for rebirth, for renewal, and the celebration of Christmas.

While we wait, we prepare for Christmas, with its custom of giving to others. Here are some suggestions that I hope you will find useful.

Give Appreciation. Acknowledge who you are and what you have to offer. Anticipate the coming of Christmas with its promise of birth, renewal, celebration, and hope.
Give Decisions. Decide how you would like to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Decorate your home as a manifestation of yourself, and the messages of hope, love, joy, and peace of the Advent candles. 
Give Vision. Think of the actions you can take to provide for others, what presents you would like to give, what foods you would like to offer to friends and family. 
Give Environmentally. Buy items that are available and produced locally to support our community and local economy. On-line shopping with delivery to our door or curbside pickup are often available to protect us during this time of pandemic.
Give Naturally. Find presents made from natural materials to maintain the Earth’s ability to sustain us. Think of neighbours and what you can do to promote the wellbeing of the community during the coming year. Give to NGO’s to help those further away, to protect the natural wilderness, and to promote peace.
Give Thoughtfulness. Take time to express thanks with awareness of all that you have. Think of how your actions impact others and what changes you can make to promote life and the health of our families and our planet home,
I hope you find these tips helpful. The choices we make affect us all and thinking of what promotes a healthy lifestyle and a sustainable Earth brings us along the path of change that humanity needs to take in order to prepare our way to the future. May your preparations lead you to a Christmas of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. God Bless Us, One and All.

Why not consider giving the Earth a Christmas present this year? As part of giving thanks, you might take some time at Christmas Dinner to discuss what you might do, or might stop doing in the coming years as your gift to the Earth.  What sacrifices in your life patterns might you consider to help the Earth heal?  

Hayhoe, K. Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World. New York: One Signal Publishers, 2021. 
Review by Laurette Geldenhuys.

If you are looking for great resource on climate advocacy, you need look no further than the wonderful new book by leading climate scientist, communicator, Christian, and Canadian, Katherine Hayhoe, Saving Us. It bubbles with optimism and humour, and provides excellent tools for when and how to communicate on this tricky, but crucial topic. It is available in conventional and audio formats, the latter being read by cheery Katherine herself! According to Katherine, the most important thing you can do to support climate action, is to TALK ABOUT IT!

Donations to Environmental and Social Justice Organizations…
As an option for Christmas giving, we invite you once again to give family members or friends the gift of a charitable donation in their name to the church’s relief programs, an environmental group, or a social justice group.  This form of gift sends needed financial resources to these groups for their work, avoids depletion of creation’s resources, and directs our finite resources to places of critical need. In addition, these gifts provide recipients with the joy of supporting worthy causes.
Below are a few local organizations we recommend. A more complete list can be found on the ESA page of the SMUC Website. Thank you for considering this option for gift giving this Christmas. 

United Church of Canada Gifts with Vision Environmental Fund: a UC Fund supporting future environmental stewardship projects.

Ecology Action Centre: a local environmental organization acting as a watchdog for the N.S. environment that provides information and researched solutions.
United Church of Canada Emergency Response–Covid19: a UC Emergency Fund assisting access to immunization, food, relief, PPE, and program support with global partners.
Trees Canada: a national non-profit organization dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in rural and urban environments. With partners, Trees Canada has planted more than 82 million trees.
Council of Canadians: this organization works for social, economic, and environmental justice. It is particularly concerned with a “just transition” in post pandemic Canada.
Friends of the Earth: provides a voice for the environment, nationally and internationally, working with others to inspire the renewal of the earth through research, education, and advocacy 
Citizens for Public Justice: an ecumenical non-profit organization that promotes justice in Canadian public policy through research and analysis focused on poverty reduction, ecological justice, and refugee rights.
Nova Scotia Nature Trust: was created to protect and conserve N.S.’s natural legacy and to save outstanding natural areas through land conservation.  The Trust now protects over 14,000 acres of land across Nova Scotia.
Eco Trust Canada: works with rural, remote, and Indigenous communities towards building an economy that will provide a healthy, resilient natural environment; sustainable and abundant energy, food, and housing; prosperous and meaningful livelihoods; vibrant cultures and inclusive societies.

Recently ESA’s Elaine Murray invited United Churches with a "green team" to join with us to discover ways of responding to the climate crisis we face.  So far, we have had responses from five church communities across Nova Scotia. A Yarmouth church described their detailed, well-developed program to green their facilities and operations, including  commitments to follow green practices from community groups using the church. , that has been in place for several years. A Universalist Unitarian Church indicated that the need for networking on the climate crisis crosses faith streams. The ESA will add these church representatives to our distribution list for information, links to petitions, etc. We will also invite these folks to a Zoom meeting in January when Linda Scherzinger from St. Andrew's will present her ideas for becoming a green congregation. We hope interest, and this faith climate network, will grow.

If you would like to support local businesses, local artists and artisans, and give gifts that are eco-friendly for your Christmas gift-giving, here are some shops you might consider. We welcome your suggestions about other local businesses and enterprises across Nova Scotia for Christmas gifts and for support throughout the year. 
Agricola Street Books (2684 Agricola, slightly-used books… just opened!)
Ana and Zak (2576 Agricola, new and second hand clothing, accessories)
14 Bells (Art Gallery, featuring new and local artists)
Bookmark, (5686 Spring Garden Road)
Dinah’s Sourdough (3540 Novalea)
Independent Mercantile (2091 Gottingen, many useful and sustainably made items)
Getaway Meat Market ( Hydrostone Market)
Java Blend Coffee Roasters, (6027 North Street)
Lady Luck (Hydrostone Market; local artisans and jewelers)
LF (Laurent’s French Bakery, 2063 Gottingen)
Local Source Grocery (2570 Agricola)
Luke’s Small Goods (2393 Agricola…bakery, charcuterie, café; just opened)
Nurtured (Baby, Kids and family needs), (2543 Agricola)
Paper Hearts, (6061 Willow Street (cards and stationery … features local)
Patch (fabric and notions 2571 Robie)
Ratinaud (2157 Gottingen, charcuterie)
Sattva (2453 Agricola, mostly Canadian, sustainably made women’s clothing and accessories)
Studio 14 (Gifts and Gallery, also framing; 2698 Agricola)
Tare Shop (5539 Cornwallis) (package free…foods

Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil                                                         2 large onions, sliced,                                                            2 cloves garlic, crushed,                                                    2 red bell peppers, cut into strips,                                     1 green bell pepper, cut into strips,                               1 lb. zucchini, cut into strips,                                       salt; black pepper, ground,                                                                 2 Tbsps. white wine,                                                                      fresh parsley, chopped
Directions: 1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over low heat. 2. Add onions and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes until soft. 3. Add bell peppers and cook 3 to 4 minutes until soft.   4. Stir in zucchini. 5. Season with salt and pepper, stir in wine and cook about 5 minutes until zucchini is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.   6. Spoon into a serving dish.  7. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.                    Makes 6 servings; preparation time:15 minutes; cooking time:20 minutes       Submitted by Margaret Machum

Anne Marie Dalton
Christmas is good news. Perhaps never more needed than near the close of this year. Devastating floods, fires, on-going Covid uncertainty, oppression, racism, the ravishes of street drugs, increased homelessness … the list is long and unrelenting. The solutions seem complex and often beyond what our resources and expertise can do. We are tired as we hobble once again to the center of our Christian faith in a God who IS love. The Good News of Christmas is the power of love, expressed in the web of mutual giving that sustains all creation, and in the humble scene of Bethlehem. Christmas reminds us that hope lies in the simple, but profound, mystery of mutual love, in the giving and receiving of life: this is the very foundation of everything God created. In a tiny hillside cave (or stable) a vulnerable human infant draws together the powerful, the wise, the poor, the animals, the stars and the angels…for comfort, for joy, for love. The triumph of hope begins here. May we all come and abide a while in this mystery of LOVE.                                                                            

A Blessed Christmas to You All !!