Rev’d David Coleman is eager to get to know local congregations’ initiatives, and to hear of your trials and joys, and to lead or share leadership of worship, when appropriate, taking note of your own tradition. Encouraging the committed core of congregations is also a high priority. David is an experienced, ordained minister in the United Reformed Church, a mainstream Christian church in the UK, and is also a Member of the Iona Community, having led programmed weeks at the Abbey.
Invite David to visit you by getting in touch through our staff page here
In preaching and in presentations, David makes exciting use of multimedia (see one of his videos below), and is well-equipped to work in very varied venues, not just on Sundays, or Sunday mornings.
A visit from the chaplain is an opportunity to celebrate what it means to be an Eco-Congregation.
Continue reading to follow his thoughts and reflections:
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.
- 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.
- This should NOT be a lot of work.
- 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.
- Choose a ‘Day’ to reflect on. First come, first served. OK to do more than one, if you get carried away. Reply to firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure the one you like isn’t already spoken for.
- 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.
ADVENT 1 SUNDAY 29th November
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–
We … fade like leaves,
and our sins, like the wind, blow us away.
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 …..
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.
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
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.
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.”
ADVENT 2 SUNDAY
6th December ( St Nicholas)
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight, in the desert, a highway for our God.
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,
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.
Truth shall spring up from the Earth,
and Justice shall look down from the Sky.
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.
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’
John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
ADVENT 3 SUNDAY
They will be called Oaks of Justice,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your love is established for ever;
You have set your faithfulness firmly in the Skies.
ADVENT 4 SUNDAY
This is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.
For nothing will be impossible with God
[Mary said] “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed
Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the whole Earth.
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.
24th December ( Christmas Eve)
Then shall all the trees of the forest shout for joy
before our God, when God comes to judge the Earth.
==========================Continue reading →
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).
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….
Part 1; Red Point : the End of the Road
[Goes with Psalm 8 under the stars) https://youtu.be/9htGaJcYDps
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
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
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.
Part 5: The Lost Valley, panting with the deer, and some reflections on the value of the Reformation, and love-songs.
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_uliYNULkContinue reading →
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.Continue reading →
Now Christ lives here ( Courage Brother)
Now Christ lives here ( Blaenwern)
Our Legacy is dire ( Kingsfold)
One Day I said sorry ( St Deinio)
Deep our Longing ( Westminster Abbey)
- Continue reading →
EcoCongregation Scotland has been preparing material for use during the ‘Season of Creation’ for some years, previously gathered by Miriam McHardy of ACTS and my predecessor Rev Trevor Jamison. We've struggled this year, with the background of COVID, which has added to everyone's workload and stress, and we are thus all the more grateful to this year's writers who found they were able to take part after all.
We began the project looking forward to preparations for the COP conference, which will now happen next year in Glasgow: we have a breathing space to work towards a fruitful use of the opportunities for prayer, and the raising of consciousness which that will bring.
We aim to provide something which is of real use to local churches, many of whom will be using the Revised Common Lectionary, or its close relative used by Roman Catholic congregations.
We’re grateful for permission to use the graphic from the Global Catholic Climate Movement this year, as we’ve very much aiming at partnership rather than competition, and the overarching theme of Jubilee for the Earth has deep biblical resonance.
We also welcome the initiative of Climate Sunday from Churches together in Britain and Ireland, whose launch coincides with our first ‘Sunday’.
Our approach, quite appropriately, is encouraging and challenging, though never prescriptive: use these things as seems good to you and the Holy Spirit. Work it in together with the way you do things: between us we provide both the medicine and the spoonful of sugar to help it go down. Grab a phrase, an image, or an idea, and run off with it! Have fun! Get carried away! See what you can get away with!
We’re indebted to the care taken by Church of Scotland Weekly Worship in shaping their own very helpful guidelines, though, necessarily, we go further.
We are not ‘filling in a gap’, but rather making space. We bring to this task a belief, born of current and practical experience, that much of the Bible can immediately be read, with integrity, in a way which highlights the rootedness of our faith in the partnership of God with Creation - variously described as ‘covenant’, in which human beings have a vital part to play, though by no means the only part. We are, as Pope Francis has said, “ruled” by the Earth.
I’ve discovered that this may require the cashing in of some reserves of daring. We often exist in a theological environment patrolled by what Alastair McIntosh calls “silverbacks”
“:Silverbacks” = older and once eminent men (as they usually are) who still pronounce with a head-of-department authority on matters over which they’re either out of touch, or aren’t within their field”[Riders on the Storm, published 13th August 2020 ]
So sometimes we need to say things differently, which seemed long ago to be settled. But God alone is unchanging. To be clear :we never impugn the integrity of those who came to different conclusions in a different time and context, but we do need, most urgently, to open wide eyes ( including our own) to the signs of these particular times, which are not by any means exclusively, of the virus threat, which seems, prematurely and lethally, to block out all others.
The surprise for some is that no mode of churchmanship has a monopoly either on ‘climate’ issues, nor, for that matter, the problems of denial and incrementalism within our communities. We turn up treasure new and old.
Once a church, congregation or community learns to trust and read the Voice of Creation through the honesty of science, Christian commitment compels involvement.
I’m relieved that I’m not a ‘climate’ chaplain only, as there are so many stacked up but interweaving environmental crises, of which COVID 19 is but one.
in our writing, we have required the discipline of taking note, but not being overwhelmed by the crisis which has forced us online , thereby actually multiplying the scope of our audience.
In Bible poetry - frequently - the mountains dance, the trees clap hands, the stones (threaten to) shout aloud and Creation groans. Poetry is so often the most emotionally accurate way of expressing deeper truths - without conflict with science.
The currently renewed appreciation of the sentience of fellow creatures, brings a new depth of meaning to this imagery. We ‘hear the voice of the earth’ as never before, though we have a whole raft of wonderful ( and well-financed) strategies for ignoring, or postponing action on what that geo-prophetic voice might have to say.
The most obvious images ( beasts, birds, seas, skies, soil) are not at all the only ‘creation’ themes. As environmental scientist Gus Speth has famously said,
“The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy”,
Thus themes emerging from this year’s texts are as follows:
Responsibility ( Given our (collective) complicity in global damage.... It is responsibility, more than ‘control’ that God gives to our species in Genesis 1:26
Love for neighbour (taking neighbour rather widely). There’s a very serious need to hear and be shocked by the partisan xenophobia of some of the passages; to grow beyond local parochialism to a global concern.
’Payback’ and revenge vs Forgiveness = as enabling power.
Urgency in all things: though set against the disabling idea of ‘already too late’.
Maybe forgiveness, and the experience of grace will be the key to the most effective Christian environmental witness, especially where churches have been bombarded with the demand to “do more”.
This last attitude is, of course, one of the errors which is killing the world with the pursuit of endless growth.
It takes little study of the New Testament to confirm that Jesus’ practice was to liberate with forgiveness first, before evidence of changed life came to light, so encouragement takes precedence over condemnation.
Should it be a surprise that the best we have to offer in the state of the world today are also the best expressions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The sheer practicality of making forgiveness/healing/enabling a priority over vengefulness shoes through.
If the one who sings prays twice, then the one will also hurt twice, who insists on suffering and punishment, rather than a more ‘restorative’ sort of justice.
Enjoy the Season, and see where the Spirit leads!
If Ian Bradley’s ‘God is Green’ is a primer for green theology, Professor Alastair McIntosh’s ‘Riders on the Storm’ is a handbook for well-informed and authoritative activism. Two hundred pages bursting with quotable and meme-able sayings to reflect- and act – on.
As activists and pastors, actors and prophets in this spiritual, environmental, ecumenical movement, [EcoCongregation Scotland ] we seldom have time or space to read every book that’s going.
To be practitioners, in an age of urgency, we seldom have the luxury only to be students. Reading matter on which we can hitch a ride, without being taken for one – not even the pleasure cruise we think we’ve paid for – turns out particularly rewarding.
With startlingly frequent permissions to ‘skim over’ this or that chapter, and an apology in the acknowledgments that this, actually quite short, book is twice its intended length, Alastair is clearly mindful of that. However, even if you think you know what you ought to know about the climate emergency ( the more pedestrian ‘climate change’ is used throughout) this small library of interwoven books will repay attention, and perhaps non-sequential reading. “Be warned that I love few things better than moving from hard science to spiritual reflections by a Hebridean loch”.
And it’s seriously up to date in late 2020. Great preparation for COP in Glasgow next year.
As a public speaker, Alastair has the charming knack of speaking with authority: irritating, independent-minded, but the twenty-three pages of meticulous notes at the back of this volume should leave you in no doubt of his rigour; why he’s hard to dismiss, and why he pulls off what others might see as the scandalous trick of combining the insightful power of science, academia, poetry and eclectic spirituality.
We discover why the notoriously cautious IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is “an incredible organisation”, and also how to interpret its jargon of “highly likely” “unlikely” , and so on. We unpack the crucial difference between emissions and concentration. We are forced to reflect on why “Climate change denial is a waste of time, but climate change alarmism is a theft of time”.
“My view is that if a case can’t be made without it being over-egged, either the case is not valid or those to whom it is being pitched are being spun. “The unembellished science is quite bad enough to be good enough”. For the reader, anxious for the tide to come in of radical actions and commitment, have patience: the ninth wave is on the way! (“‘Sustainable economic growth’ . There’s an oxymoron if ever there was one”.)
This writer has the courage to be discerningly, compassionately critical of friends and movements like Extinction Rebellion, without falling prey to the idolatry of false equivalence:
““There is no substitute for balance. That said, the balance says that only by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and thereby stabilising and preferably heavily reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, can very serious future risks be averted.”
“What if nations were to dig into their treasuries of poetry, song, literature, mythology and spirituality, and draw out oft-forgotten material..” Precisely for those who approach climate change from a faith perspective, this is excellent advice. “ “If the journey of the head looks like solar panels, heat pumps and green new deals, what of the journey of the heart?”
Alastair delights in myths, and values their capacity to point to truth, but is ruthlessly hard on any that are wantonly unfounded. Pseudoscience of every kind has a bloody nose from this radical moderate who, whilst walking the walk in personal commitment, refuses to deny his- and our – complicity in a situation of threat to life and being even beyond that of warfare. “Climate will remain the most pressing global leadership issue of our time.” Although facts, figures, and peer-reviewed science provide a playing field, with this book, we gain courage to assert that spiritual emptiness, the clearances of the soul, constitute the more determinative malaise to be addressed in building resilience of community and planet. As in Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’, justice for the planet is absolutely inseparable from ‘integral human development’. Justice and ecology are near-identical siblings.
As we each only can, Alastair brings out of his treasure of a lifetime’s activism and study, treasures of experience which inescapably ground the crisis in our own homelands and coastlands, refuting with humour many of the denialist staples, for instance, about the small amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, comparing it to mine but dangerous blood alcohol levels: “Our whisky is quite the best, but at 414ppm you’re banned.”
If we might be tempted by the ‘devil we know’, Alastair makes a point of introducing us to all the devils we need to know. Though face to face with Pacific islanders – fast becoming the go-to example of a comfortingly distant crisis – we’re left in no doubt that, with sea-level rises in our lifetime “ . On the beaches of Harris and Berneray, “it’s happening before our eyes”
This should be the end of any Scottish complacency, any delay in pulling out “all the stops of sustainable development”. Or of reclaiming the wilder spiritual resources, so often born in times of trouble, that providence and love have made available to humanity.
Hope-lessness is no valid option, nor to take refuge in pernicious narratives of the pointlessness of individual action and commitment, indeed Alastair conveys a heartfelt case for doing whatever you can, without succumbing to burnout and toxic indispensability .
“As with the making of the proverbial stone soup, if we can all add just one ingredient, we can end up with a rich broth round the hearth”.Continue reading →