The Earth, Spirit, Action Team (ESA) Newsletter
St. Matthew’s United Church
May 2023 Pentecost Edition Issue # 20
“If you love me, you will obey my commands; and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another to be your Advocate, who will be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive him, because the world neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he dwells with you, and is in you.” John 14: 16-17 NEB
“They were all together in one place when suddenly there came from the sky a noise like that of a strong wind, which filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues like flames of fire, dispersed among them and resting on each one. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them power of utterance.” Acts 2: 2-4 NEB
Welcome to this Pentecost edition of Good Tidings, St. Matthew’s ESA newsletter on global and local environmental and climate change issues with suggestions for personal and political actions, resources from environmental groups, book notes, and spiritual observations. You can send us comments and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What an encouraging time in the Christian year! Living in the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection, and his many appearances to the men and women who were his followers, we now hear about the gift of the Spirit breathing new life and power into the church and all creation. We may have had our own Pentecost event here in Halifax on Earth Day, April 22nd, as God’s children gathered in joyous celebration to call for love, protection, preservation, and respect for the waters, air, soil, plants, all creatures and living things of creation. It was uplifting, empowering, hopeful.
This Pentecost issue includes a “book note”by Anne Marie Dalton, her comment on a really excellent book we would recommend; ideas on how families and individuals can celebrate creation during the summer months by Margaret Machum; a recap of our Lunch and Learn events; advocacy actions; a summer vegetarian recipe again by Margaret Machum; and some spiritual reflections. This is our last issue for a while. Look for Good Tidings in early Fall, and have a renewing and restoring summer!
Pentecost Sonnet by Malcolm Guite.
Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire, air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.
Book Notes by Anne Marie Dalton on “Weather, Religion, and Climate Change” by Sigurd Bergmann, Routledge Press, 2021.
This is a well-researched and at times quite academic account of how weather has interacted with religious belief and practices over centuries. Bergmann moves talk about weather beyond the purview of science alone and reveals the many ways in which humans of all faiths have interacted with weather in theology, art, architecture and simple everyday decision making. ‘Does God speak through weather?’ has long been a theological conundrum. Bergmann speaks of church architecture as “built faith.” We can see in our church architecture, for example, what and how our ancestors believed and what contextual forces affected that faith, weather being one such force. Gothic architecture reflected not only theological concepts of God’s transcendence, power, and beauty, but also the increase of rainy weather as the polluting effects of the industrial revolution spread in Europe (think of the gargoyles spouting excess water and the high sloping roofs dealing with ice and snow, for example). This and other reflections lead to the questions raised in the final chapter: How are the conditions of climate change and its unequal effects across the planet and its peoples influencing our concepts of God today? How is weather an expression of God’s presence? How is it challenging our faith? And what will our “built faith” look like going forward?
A Pentecost Prayer –“In Union with Creation” by Pope Francis, 2015, From “Laudato Si” (adapted).
Holy Spirit, by your light you guide this world toward the Father’s love, and accompany creation as it groans in travail. You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good. God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live. The poor and the earth are crying out. O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love, and beauty. Praise be to You! Amen.
Lunch & Learn Series a Hit with St. Matt’s Congregation.
The Lunch and Learn series hosted by the Earth Spirit Action Team this spring has scored a resounding hit. Members of St. Matthew’s and guests attended three events focusing on climate change and how people are responding. Lil MacPherson talked about food security for our region, and supporting a locally sourced food system and local food producers. Jim Abraham spoke about the effects of climate change on weather; heavy precipitation, hurricanes, typhoons, drought and forest fires, and the rise of ocean levels. Referring to Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si”, he urged us to address climate change as faithful stewards of God’s creation respecting all created things. At our third event focused on Community Gardens, Sara Burgess from BiHi Community Gardens shared Common Roots Urban Farm’s vision; “healthy people, connected to their food, each other, and the natural environment, in new and sometimes profound ways.” She shared lots of practical advice for developing a community garden, which was of interest to us as we think through the possibility of developing a garden here at St. Matthew’s. All the events were marked by enthusiastic discussion, and we enjoyed delicious soups prepared by Margaret Machum with biscuits baked by Anne Marie and Elaine. The ESA Team will be hosting Lunch & Learn events in the Fall and Winter, and invites you to send us ideas for future topics and speakers.
TIPS FOR THE SUMMER by Margaret Machum
During the Summer, plan to spend time in the wilderness, whether you are on vacation or staying home. Plan to be outside enjoying nature, like you have many times before.
Take note of:
1.Trees. Marvel at their various sizes, and the colours, and shape of the leaves
THE NEXT LEVEL
1. Trees. Hear the wind in the trees, and relax to the sound. Spend time to really listen.
5.Water. When you go for a swim, as you enter the water feel gratitude for the water, its purity, and its cooling qualities on a hot day
1.Trees. Notice the roots and how they make contact with the earth and think how they make a forest
Do you feel different, that you are deeply connected to every living thing around you?
You become intensely aware of your place in the world, and the profound relationship you have with nature. Sense the heartbeat of the planet all around us, marvel at the vast ocean, the trees, the landscape. Unspoiled nature. Breathe deeply, inhale the mossy, salty, magical scent. When nature is healthy and thriving, so are we.
Practice empathy for the planet. Acknowledge that we trample on the Earth. Call for greater awareness at this time of human-induced upheaval and commit to doing more for the Earth when you return from your Summer.
What Other Environmental and Climate Change Groups are Thinking, Saying, and Doing. (Advocacy).
Ecology Action Center.
“Better Building Speaker Series”, Tuesday, May 30, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Research shows that we could be constructing buildings that are more resilient, healthier and better for the environment. That is what this series of presentations is all about. To register, go to: https://ecologyaction.ca/get-involved/events/better-building-speaker-series?utm_source=civicrm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mm_bbss
JustFOOD Action Plan for the Halifax Region Part A. In March, Halifax Regional Council endorsed the JustFOOD Action Plan for the Halifax Region: its’ first food strategy, developed by the Halifax Food Policy Alliance, a coalition co-chaired by the municipality and the Ecology Action Center. To read the report go to: https://justfoodhalifax.ca and https://justfoodhalifax.ca/the-action-plan/
David Suzuki Foundation.
The World Can’t Afford Fossil Fuels. (Article) “As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns , we have very little time to shift from coal, oil and gas to cleaner energy sources, and to reduce our wasteful consumption. Many affordable, reliable solutions are readily available — solutions that will save money and give us cleaner air, water and soil, better health, good jobs and a chance at long-term survival. https://davidsuzuki.org/story/the-world-cant-afford-fossil-fuels/?utm_source=mkto-none-smSubscribers-readOnline-body&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=davidsRetirement-howDavidSuzukiWidened-en-16apr2023&mkt_tok=MTg4LVZEVS0zNjAAAAGLHmVpy4k1xYDKMBOglNWe6Od8zQAF6lJYDGDLykk9SgCZ0eajuUeVYms08PIhCG0cc1PHqgpZszGRdHHDATAlVEZa6bHQfcsRzhWJ-dGJLAQR
Protect Canada’s Forests from Degradation - Petition to Minister Jonathan Wilkinson Canada needs to own up to the fact that current forestry practices are not sustainable. We must demonstrate leadership to jump-start a change from status quo industrial operations.
Deep sea mining. The world is waking up to the significance of the threat from deep sea mining. During talks at the 28th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Jamaica, a growing number of countries made statements in favor of a moratorium or a precautionary pause on deep sea mining, but ISA failed to agree on any meaningful way to prevent the deep sea mining industry from exploiting legal loopholes to start mining soon. https://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/story/57999/deep-sea-mining-industry-stalks-while-governments-talk/
Canadian Banks and their Investment in the Fossil Fuel Industry. “Despite increasing fires and floods, Canadian banks are laggards and fossil fuel “lenders of last resort”. https://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/press-release/58116/new-report-rbc-jumps-to-worlds-1-fossil-fuel-financier/
Imperial Oil Should Be Charged. In early March, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation revealed that a major spill of 5.3 million liters of toxic "tailings" — a poisonous brew of water, sand, heavy metals and other petrochemical waste products  — occurred from Imperial Oil’s Kearl mine in the Athabasca watershed in Northern Alberta. Greenpeace Canada projected a message on the walls of the Supreme Court of Canada, calling for the federal government to charge Imperial Oil in connection with the leaks and a spill at a tailings pond at its Kearl Oilsands operation. “Chiefs of First Nations affected by releases of wastewater called Alberta's regulator a system that serves the industry and not the public.” https://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/press-release/58234/greenpeace-calls-for-imperial-oil-to-be-charged-over-kearl-spill-projects-message-on-supreme-court/
Global Plastics Treaty At the end of this month, governments from around the world will resume negotiations of a UN treaty that could help turn the tide on plastic pollution. A Global Plastics Treaty could help address the plastic crisis and its impacts on the world’s ecosystems, animal life, and human health. We need to make sure Canada is ready to champion measures that will end the age of plastic. Tell Justin Trudeau to support a strong Global Plastics Treaty now.
Forbes Magazine – “These Three Plastic Recycling Myths Will Blow Your Mind.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/lauratenenbaum/2019/05/15/these-three-plastic-recycling-myths-will-blow-your-mind/?sh=21a7a2b875f0
Basic Livable Income Nova Scotia“A Basic Income should do more than just keep a person out of poverty; it should guarantee that person the ability to participate as a full citizen in society, with dignity and security.” https://www.big-ns.org/principles https://www.big-ns.org/take-action https://www.big-ns.org/petitions
Council of Canadians. “ You know as well as we do that Canada’s transition away from fossil fuels needs to be a process that benefits workers, communities, and the climate. On May 24th, 2023 at 8pm AT join the Council of Canadians for “Communities, Not Corporations: Transition for People and the Planet.” Hosted by Anjali Appadurai, renowned activists and experts will share insights on federal “Interim Sustainable Jobs Plan and explore how to win strong legislation that invests in Indigenous sovereignty, workers, and communities rather than false, market-based solutions that line the pockets of corporations and the ultra-wealthy. Webinar registration form at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_r34pUZcVSxag9rxz4lijRA?utm_source=Council+of+Canadians&utm_campaign=2aa0128142-2023-05-09-Just-Transition-Webinar-Series&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_-1fad8beee8-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D#/registration
Fair Vote Canada. (Electoral Reform) “The federal Liberal Party voted at their convention in Ottawa to back a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform with overwhelming support from party members and Liberal MPs from across the country.” https://www.fairvote.ca/
From “The Whole Earth Shall Cry Glory” a Pentecost Prayer by Rev. George F. MacLeod, Iona Community.
“Holy Spirit, Enlivener: breathe on us, fill us with life anew. In Your new creation, already upon us, breaking through, groaning and travailing, but already breaking through, breathe on us. Till that day when night and autumn vanish: and lambs grown sheep are no more slaughtered: and even the thorn shall fade, and the whole earth shall cry “Glory” at the marriage feast of the Lamb. In this new creation, already upon us, fill us with life anew.”
Easy Granola – A Summertime Recipe from Margaret Machum’s Kitchen.
Makes 3 cups; preparation time: 5 minutes; cooking time: 35 minutes
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cups oats
3 Tbs almonds, sliced
whose Spirit moved over the face of the deep bringing forth light and life;
by that same Spirit, renew your creation, and restore your image in your people.
Turn us from careless tenants to faithful stewards,
that your threefold blessing of clean air, pure water and rich earth
may be the inheritance of everything that has the breath of life
and one generation may proclaim to another the wonder of your works;
through Jesus Christ, your living Word,
in whom the fullness of your glory is revealed.
Amen. Rt. Rev’d Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby
Enjoy a renewing, restoring, refreshing summer in God’s beautiful creation.