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Archive for March, 2011

Semon: Recognition

Follow this link to read a sermon on Psalm 139, “Recognition,” preached at Divinity Lutheran Church of Parma Heights, OH on March 30, 2011.

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Sermon: Oppression

Follow this link to read a sermon on Psalm 40, “Oppression,” preached at Divinity Lutheran Church of Parma Heights, OH, on March 23, 2011.

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Sermon: Restlessness

Follow this link to read a sermon on Psalm 77, “Restlessness,” preached at Divinity Lutheran Church, Parma Heights, OH on March 16, 201

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As I write this article, I am one week away from my twenty-sixth birthday. It is a big year for me, and one of change.  This is the year I head to seminary. Not only am I moving to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), but I’m also moving out of Parma, where I have lived almost my entire life. For the first time in as long as I can remember, when I get to school I plan on working one part time job, as opposed to the full-time and part-time jobs I usually hold (many of you may not know that in addition to working for Pilgrim UCC, I work part time for the Cleveland Botanical Gardens). As I approach Lent, a time where I usually set a 40-day spiritual challenge for myself, I’m feeling a bit stumped. So much of me is in the midst of changing that it’s hard to think on how to narrow my focus for the next few weeks. I don’t know if it’s the looming birthday or the fact that I am finally moving in the right direction, but I don’t want to waste this opportunity of reflection.

I was raised to believe in four things: love God above all others, family matters matter, hard work is it’s own reward, and live as a voice for those who are not in a position to speak for themselves. I believe strongly in the importance of people using their voice. I feel the Holy Spirit motivates us all individually to be an advocate for something or someone, and as we grow and evolve, our priorities surrounding these issues do as well. For example, I have always been an advocate for supporting my immediate economy. When the option is before me, I choose to buy products made by Americans that are owned by American companies. I try to frequent restaurants that cook with local food, and am no stranger to cultural festivals sponsored by my community. At times, the financial cost is a bit higher then alternative options, but the satisfaction I get from knowing I am helping those who I interact with spiritually fulfills me. But, like my-self, this perspective is starting to grow. In addition to helping my immediate economy, I like being environmentally responsible in buying local.

Both of my employers are environmental advocates. Both have composting on site, and purchase kitchen supplies like plates and cups that are 100% compostable and biodegradable. Pilgrim cleans the church with vinegar, a natural cleaner, and uses sheet mulching (a cardboard/brush layering technique) as a natural weed repellent instead of products like Round Up.

The Garden has an en-tire department that teaches teenagers and young adults how to farm in urban environments, and sells their vegetables at the West Side Market. I didn’t realize how attracted I was to sustainability until I unintentionally sought employment from activists. I’ll admit, one of the main appeals to LSTC is that they were the first LEED certified ELCA seminary, and that they have a specific department for church environmentalism.

I would call myself a closeted environmentalist, because I’m not always willing to go the distance. There is a lot that I do for my environment: I buy local when possible, drive a car with a small engine, recycle, plan travel arrangements on fuel efficiency, worship at the contemporary service be-cause it is paperless. But I still like my hamburgers too much to become a vegetarian, drive to work instead of taking the bus or (heaven forbid) bike, wear makeup that is probably tested on animals, drink bottled water, and wear shoes made of leather.

I was raised to be a voice for people who are not in a position to speak for themselves, and I know sometimes that voice belongs to our environment. Is there a balance between the part of me that likes the comforts of the modern world and the activist inside my heart? I am old enough to know there are no easy answers to such questions, but I‘m young enough to know it can’t hurt to try. This Lent provides me with a rare opportunity, especially since Earth Day will fall during Holy Week this year. This Lenten season, my spiritual challenge is to make choices that will decrease my carbon footprint and increase my environmental sup-port. Already I am curious as to how I will wrap birthday presents in sustainable ways, or have the fortitude to drink water from a glass instead of a plastic bottle.

I believe strongly that the Holy Spirit calls us individually to be advocates for a cause that is important to us. This calling looks differently to each person, and as we approach the empty tomb, I hope that you will reflect on how you can use the rest of this season to fill your hearts by serving as a voice for God.

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