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EcoCongregation Advent Calendar Project: The Judge to cheer the Forest

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EcoCongregation Video Advent Calendar 2020

-Inviting participation  from the EcoCongregation Movement and others for an Alternative Advent event! Looking for reflections based on all the aspects of our life, work and prayer: housing, food, anti-waste, anti-poverty, ethical finance, insulation, farming, forestry, just transition… whatever you’re into.

Notes:

  1. This is an “Advent” calendar, not a ‘Christmas Countdown’. It uses carefully selected verses from the 2020 lectionary for the discrete season of  Advent.   The emphasis in selecting texts  is on Creation’s active participation in the Story, and on scary stuff, because we live in scary times. To note, about use of language : ’Heaven’ will be rendered as ‘Sky’, ‘Righteousness’ as ‘justice’ etc. Elements of Creation are capitalised  by my choice. 
  1. This should NOT be a lot of work.
  2. Please only say you will take part if you will go ahead. Deadline is a week before your chosen date. Sooner is appreciated.  Gaps will be filled in abruptly if material does not arrive.
  3. Choose a ‘Day’ to reflect on. First come, first served. OK to do more than one, if you get carried away. Reply to chaplain@ecocongregationscotland.org to make sure the one you like isn’t already spoken for.
  4. Record yourself on video, ( head and shoulders) reading the Scripture, if possible with a plain background, (or green or blue screen if you have one). Use Zoom if it’s easier). Daylight is the best light. ( ideal illustrated)
  • 6: Add a sentence or so ( not more than 2) of sharp reflective observation. Nothing bland. The whole thing should be a minute or less, though some will be just a wee bit longer.
  • 7: Participation implies full permission for creative editing and visual manipulation of the video you send.
  • 8: Examples of last year’s Advent Calendar can be viewed, below, though this will be in a different style, since readers will be visible this year.

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ADVENT 1 SUNDAY 29th November

Isaiah 64

If you would only rip open the Sky and come down,
so that the Mountains would quake at your presence…

as when fire kindles brushwood, causing water to boil–

….

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30th November 

Isaiah 64

We … fade like leaves,

and our sins, like the wind, blow us away.

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1st December 

1 Corinthians 1

I give thanks to my God always for you … for in every way you have been enriched in [Christ Jesus ], in speech and knowledge of every kind-…. so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift …..

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2nd December 

Mark 13: 

Jesus said, ….

the Sun will be darkened,
and the Moon will begrudge its light,

and the Stars will be falling from the Sky,
and the Powers in the Skies will be shaken.

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3rd  December 

Mark 13: 

Jesus said, ….

they will see ‘the Earthling’s Child*’ coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 

Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the Earth to the ends of the Sky.

*From ’Son of Man’ as unpacked  by Bishop James Jones in an A  Rocha webinar. October 2020

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4th December 

Mark 13: 

Jesus said, ….

“From the … Tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. …. Sky and Earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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5th December

Mark 13: 

Jesus said, ….

Keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come,….or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 

And what I say to you,  I say to all: Keep awake.”

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ADVENT 2 SUNDAY

6th December ( St Nicholas)

Isaiah 40

A voice cries out:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight, in the desert, a highway for our God.

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7th  December 

Isaiah 40 

Every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.

Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
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8th  December 

Isaiah 40

People are grass,
their constancy like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the Word of our God will stand for ever.

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9th  December 

Psalm 85:11

Truth shall spring up from the Earth,
and Justice  shall look down from the Sky.

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10th  December 

2 Peter 3:

The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the Skies will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the Earth and everything that is done on Earth will be disclosed.

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11th December

Mark 1

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, offering  an immersion* in change-of-mind** for the forgiveness of sins. 

*’Baptism’ loses the ‘dipping’ aspect. **close translation of ‘meta-noia’

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12th December 

Mark 1: 

John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

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ADVENT 3 SUNDAY

13th December 

Isaiah 61

They will be called Oaks of Justice,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

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14th December  

Isaiah 61

As Earth brings forth shoots,
and as a Garden causes what is sown in the Garden 

to spring up,

so the Lord God will cause justice  and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

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15th December 

Psalm 126

 Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.

 Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

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16th December 

Luke 1 [Magnificat]


The  Almighty … has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

God  has shown the strength of his arm,
God  has scattered the proud in their conceit.

God  has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich empty away.

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17th December 

1 Thessalonians 5

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

Do not quench the Spirit. 

Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything.

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18th December 

John 1

Priests and Levites from Jerusalem  asked John Who are you?”…” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said.

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19th December 

Psalm 89: 

Your love is established for ever;
You have set your faithfulness firmly in the Skies.

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ADVENT 4 SUNDAY

20th December 

Luke 1:

This is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 

For nothing will be impossible with God

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21st December 

Luke 1

[Mary said] “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

 Then the angel departed

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22nd December

Psalm 96

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the whole Earth.

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23rd December 

Psalm 96

 Let the skies rejoice, and let the Earth be glad;
let the Sea thunder and all that is in it; 

let the Field be joyful and all that is therein.

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24th December ( Christmas Eve)

Psalm 96

 Then shall all the trees of the forest shout for joy
before our God, when God comes to judge the Earth.

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Open event encouraging views on Just Transition for housing

Just Transition Commission and Church groups team up to plan a socially inclusive path to net-zero for Scotland’s housing

Scotland’s Just Transition Commission, established to make recommendations to ministers on how Scotland can transition to a net-zero economy by 2045 in a way that is fair for all, has teamed up with the Methodist Church in Scotland and Eco-Congregation Scotland to host an online event on Saturday 17 October 2020, from 10am until 12.30pm.

Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets will require the housing sector to radically transform itself at a pace previously unseen. Making homes more energy efficient and heated from low carbon sources presents an opportunity to improve the quality of our housing stock, tackle fuel poverty and create jobs. Concerns have also been raised about how this is paid for, and whether the shift to net-zero in the housing sector could risk sliding more households into fuel poverty.

We have to find ways of meeting our climate targets which make lives better not worse for the least well off in our society.

Attendees to the open online discussion will hear speakers from the Just Transition Commission, Warmworks, Scottish Federation of Housing AssociationsExisting Homes Alliance Scotland and Power Circle who will share their thoughts on how we can combine meeting our climate targets with improving energy affordability and lowering fuel poverty. Discussion will then open up to all participants, able to contribute their own ideas on how Scotland can reach net-zero emissions in housing.

Just Transition Commissioner, Norrie Kerr says: “We need to put an end to fuel poverty with bold action to make people’s homes warmer and cheaper to heat. Equity considerations must be central to climate action, if we are to make the transition to net-zero in a way that improves the lives of the most vulnerable. This event will provide an opportunity to hear from experts and ordinary people on these issues and contribute ideas on how Scotland can achieve this.”

Rev Mark Slaney, Chair of the Methodist Church in Scotland, who will be chairing the event, said: “We have to find ways of meeting our climate targets which make lives better not worse for the least well off in our society. I look forward to an imaginative and stimulating discussion which will contribute both to the work of the Commission and to Scotland’s preparation for the COP26 climate summit next year.”

There is still time to register for this free event, pre-registration is highly recommended. Further information and registration can be found here: 

This event has been arranged by Stirling Methodist Church and Eco-Congregation Scotland, in collaboration with the Just Transition Commission.

Presentations will focus on the key challenge: how do we combine meeting our climate targets with improving energy affordability and lowering fuel poverty?

Speakers:

Adrian Shaw, Church of Scotland climate change officer, will also outline how churches can meet the opportunities and challenges presented by Glasgow hosting the COP26 United Nations climate talks being held in November 2021.

Eco-Congregation Scotland will be encouraging all Scottish churches to become more focused on addressing the climate crisis over the coming year. Eco-Congregation Scotland is an ecumenical environmental charity supporting over 500 local churches of all denominations across Scotland, committed to environmental activities in their life and mission, with Stirling Methodist Church one of the most active eco-congregations.

A ‘Cat-and-monkey’ Retreat : looking after what matters

In the midst of the very considerable restrictions  on the previous shape of my work of travelling to visit, encourage and challenge churches, in September, I was able, thanks to a visit to congregations in Skye, to spend a couple of  reflective/active days in the landscape of Scotland. This was also a way of marking my 25 years in ordained Christian Ministry ( September 1995).

The moon will not strike you by night

On the walls of ancient churches, like Iona Abbey, you may find both a cat (contemplative) and a monkey ( active). For these few days, I combined the two.

Here I present my video diary, and some of the Psalms which I took with me, having asked friends which Bible passages they felt would be spoken to by amazing locations.   I am an occasional hillwalker, rather than a mountain-climber, so I didn’t go up things I was likely to fall off, but enjoyed some wonderful sights.

Filming is, of course, rough and ready. but as good as I could manage. The locations stretch perception. Overall, a reminder to place yourself, either imaginatively or actually, in the concrete  situations referred to  in Biblical imagery, rather than watering things down with abstraction. The majority of the visuals are from the immediate occasion, with some added.

25th Anniversary Retreat Video Diary….

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Part 1; Red Point : the End of the Road

[Goes with Psalm 8 under the stars) https://youtu.be/9htGaJcYDps

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Part 2: The Skye Cuilin on an open-ended day

\-What do we need to set out? https://youtu.be/Fz04lNrRkwQ

[Goes with Psalm 121 on Sgurr Alastair https://youtu.be/oRJ9N0BJ0Nc

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Part 3 Bein Damh – with the view that brought me to Applecross.

Cake and Eat it/ What a Mountain really is….

[Goes with Lord’s prayer  https://youtu.be/6OTQdsQVY1A

]

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Part 4: Rest Day: the Cycle of the Kingdom

(building on my observation of the cyclic nature of Creation and the Kingdom) We are  Mostly Water.

https://youtu.be/T9_9o_thJbI

Part 5: The Lost Valley,  panting with the deer, and some reflections on the value of the Reformation, and love-songs.

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Psalms as pilgrimage

It’s a recognised way of Bible reflection, to read  passages over and over. I added to that what came to mind in a location.

Psalm 8 as a pilgrimage https://youtu.be/QnmQFYJAe6c

Psalm 121 as a pilgrimage https://youtu.be/QxtfZvzVtcY

Psalm 139 as a pilgrimage https://youtu.be/YT7mPZEK48U

Psalm 95 with dancing strangers https://youtu.be/DwtB4MF2X-s

Psalm 36 by a mountain stream https://youtu.be/FI_uliYNULk

Church of Scotland sets 2030 net zero target

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Christian environmental and development groups welcome General Assembly decision

Christian environmental and development charities Christian Aid, Eco-Congregation Scotland and Operation Noah joyfully welcome the decision of the Church of Scotland to set a 2030 net zero target.

At the Church of Scotland 2020 General Assembly on Saturday, the Church’s Faith Impact Forum brought a proposal to the General Assembly ‘for the Church to transition both locally and nationally to net zero carbon emissions by 2030’.

General Assembly Commissioners voted to support an amendment from Rev Jenny Adams, Minister of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Parish Church.

The amended motion passed by General Assembly reads: ‘Instruct the Faith Impact Forum to work with others to develop a strategy for the Church to transition both locally and nationally to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, reporting an outline strategy to General Assembly 2021.’

We are delighted that one of our key partner Churches has committed to transitioning to net zero in the next 10 years.

              Mary Sweetland, Chair of Eco-Congregation Scotland

The decision to set a 2030 net zero target is especially significant as Glasgow prepares to host the UN climate talks, COP26, in November 2021.

In her speech to the General Assembly, Rev Jenny Adams said: ‘This is a climate emergency and the next 10 years are crucial. I hope that by working with others within and beyond the Church, we will be able to get going on this difficult but vital transition, for the sake of all creation.’

Commissioners at the General Assembly also voted in favour of a motion on fossil fuel divestment proposed by Seonaid Knox. This motion called on the Church’s Faith Impact Forum to ‘report to the 2021 General Assembly on the ethical, scientific and theological arguments for and against urgent disinvestment from oil and gas companies’.

The Church of England voted to set a 2030 net zero target earlier this year. Many local authorities have also made this pledge, including the City Councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Christian Aid, Eco-Congregation Scotland and Operation Noah applauded the decision to set a 2030 net zero target. They said that the Church of Scotland now needs to end its investments in fossil fuel companies in order to demonstrate climate leadership ahead of the crucial COP26 climate summit.

Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland, said: ‘The communities with which Christian Aid works, in many of the poorest parts of the world, are calling for urgent leadership on climate change, and this decision from the Church of Scotland demonstrates that leadership. We welcome it warmly, and look forward to working in partnership with the Church of Scotland to help realise these ambitious new goals. One of the steps that the Church could take in the short-term is to commit to end its investments in fossil fuel companies, and we hope that is part of the plans brought forward in 2021.’

Mary Sweetland, Chair of Eco-Congregation Scotland, said: ‘We are delighted that one of our key partner Churches has committed to transitioning to net zero in the next 10 years.’

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: ‘It is wonderful news that the Church of Scotland has set a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2030. In order to demonstrate leadership on the climate crisis ahead of the UN climate talks in Glasgow next year, it is vital that the Church of Scotland supports a just and green recovery from Covid-19 by divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in the clean technologies of the future.’

Notes:

1. Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on the climate crisis. It works with all Christian denominations. http://operationnoah.org/

2. Christian Aid holds a vision of a better world, free from poverty and climate change. For over ten years, Christian Aid Scotland has been campaigning for the UK and Scottish Governments to take climate change seriously for the benefit of those who are impacted first and worst by its effects. https://www.christianaid.org.uk/

3. Eco-Congregation Scotland is a movement of Scottish church congregations, of all denominations and none, committed to addressing environmental issues through their life and mission. https://www.ecocongregationscotland.org/

4. The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council recommended that the Investors’ Trust divest from fossil fuels ‘as a matter of urgency’ in December 2019. https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18122752.renewed-call-kirk-sell-shares-oil-gas/

5. The Church of England set a 2030 net zero carbon target in February 2020. https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/general-synod-sets-2030-net-zero-carbon-target

Demo Clips: Hymns on YouTube to trad tunes.

I’m extremely grateful for these demo recordings of the hymn texts offered for the Season of Creation
Wording and credits can be found in the description box on YouTube in each case. They’re also on my Facebook page ‘EcoChaplain Online’

Please do use, if they have a place in your worship or devotions.
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Now Christ lives here ( Courage Brother)
https://youtu.be/p7SLOxOR2J0

Now Christ lives here ( Blaenwern)
https://youtu.be/jTXBZYg787c
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Our Legacy is dire ( Kingsfold)
https://youtu.be/JzEwGMvjVS0
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One Day I said sorry ( St Deinio)
https://youtu.be/cKA8PvX86YA
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Deep our Longing ( Westminster Abbey)
https://youtu.be/ljdOzsMQ50A

Livingston United Parish Church Silver Award

Creation Time Activity – Map of Scotland in stones.

We are delighted to announce that Livingston United Parish Church, Nether Dechmont Community Centre, Livingston has been awarded an Eco-Congregation Scotland Bronze Award on 06/09/2019 in recognition of their work and commitment to caring for creation.

Livingston United Parish Church were especially commended by the assessors for the level of involvement of many individuals in the planning and the continuing good communication links, as well as the way communications are made.

They were also commended for the way they embed creation themes into worship, prayer and learning. A foundation in spiritual living & worship is embedded in the ethos of the worship team in promoting all matters of environmental & peace and justice concern. This is achieved in a variety of ways with all ages and places on the journey included.

Also noted for special commendation were the number of varied actions and creative activities available to the congregation and local community which continue to be supported as well as the evident embedding of the eco congregation values into what they are doing.

Eco Awareness Stand

Selkirk Parish Church Gold Award.

Selkirk Parish Church have been awarded their Eco Congregation Scotland Gold Award.
The Parish Church has just achieved the highest award as an Eco Congregation, only the sixth in Scotland to receive a Gold Award, and the first to experience a virtual assessment via Zoom.
The congregation was delighted to learn that all the criteria under the headings of Spiritual, Practical and Global Living were met or exceeded. They were particularly commended for the use of the pop-up shop as a monthly Recycling Clinic and drop off point. So thanks to those in the community for collecting and bringing those hard-to-recycle items to the pop-up shop. (eg crisp packets, bottle tops, old watches, jewellery and mobiles) The church eco group ensures these items are recycled in an environmentally responsible way, benefitting a number of charities. These practical actions demonstrate the congregation’s conviction that caring for the environment is an essential outworking of their Christian faith. The Gold Award criteria also require the congregation to take action on a wide range of other environmental issues including bio-diversity and climate change.

The congregation hopes to celebrate this achievement when the current restrictions allow. Please follow the Selkirk Parish Church Facebook page for the latest news and events.
“The Gold Award challenges us all to maintain and build on the achievement!”