Monday, May 17, 2021
Friday, May 14, 2021
As a priest in the Episcopal tradition, I deal with plenty of funerals and funeral planning situations. One of the best things you can do for your loved ones is make a plan for your funeral and make sure the paperwork and your wishes are known ahead of time. So many people feel uncomfortable talking about their own death and it leads to their loved ones having no idea what to do when they do inevitably die. All your loved ones want in that moment is to mourn. They don't want to have to make decisions. All funeral homes and churches are happy to help you plan your funeral ahead of time. We have forms which make it easy to go through all the steps and think about all the options, and we will even keep these forms on file for you. All your loved ones need to know then is which church or funeral home to call once your time has passed. So be proactive! Make a plan. Write it down. Put it together with your important bank information and other necessary documents for the time and let your loved ones know where it is. This is one of the most compassionate things you can do for your loved ones.
Now, when it comes to the options, well, there are some more environmentally friendly options out there. The Green Burial Council out of California has lots of useful information about Green Funeral providers and Cemeteries if you want to go full in. Green or Natural Funeral Homes and Cemeteries have rules about very natural caskets and no use of chemical preservation techniques. These are great ways to cut down on your carbon footprint at the end of your life. If you want to work with a local Funeral home which may not be certified by the Green Burial Council, there are still ways to cut down on your environmental impact in death. Choosing natural caskets and chemical free or formaldehyde-free preservation is a good way to go. If you would rather be cremated, there are a number of brands of biodegradable urns and urns which grow trees. The second option offsets the cremation exhaust with planting a tree with your ashes.
The funeral market has expanded greatly in the last few decades. Choices abound for ways to be buried, cremated, scattered, or preserved, but not all of them are environmentally friendly. Even in death you can remain true to your principles of caring for God's creation by choosing natural or environmentally friendly ways of being put to rest. Don't forget, plan ahead! Your loved ones may not know that you want these options, so make sure you have them written down.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (Ascension Day BCP 226)
Ascension Day is a "Principal Feast Day" in the Episcopal and Lutheran Churches. However, it is one we tend to forget about too often; partially because it always falls on a Thursday and partially because we are all looking forward to Pentecost in ten days. On the list of Principal Feasts, Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday are the closest feasts together. In the space of 18 days, we have three high holy feast days. A lot to celebrate!
This year the Daughters of the King are participating in a novena, a nine day prayer journey between Ascension Day and Pentecost. The theme is "Thy Kingdom Come" and it is open for everyone to participate in. Each day has a devotion and a prayer prompt, with the idea of praying for five specific people for the novena to find Jesus. Imagine if we twenty five people prayed for five people to find Jesus and they do find Jesus, that's another 125 new Christians! A lot to celebrate!
We do indeed have a lot to celebrate. As more and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we are able to regather together for worship and fellowship in safe and healthy ways. We can celebrate the presence of Jesus in our lives and the gifts of the Holy Spirit which empower us to spread God's Good News. We can celebrate together the ways in which God has enriched our lives despite all the craziness of the last year. I hope you will join us for in-person celebration on Pentecost and Trinity Sunday!
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Rain water barrels are wonderful. If you own your own home or have environmentally friendly landlords, I highly suggest rain water barrels. They are fairly easy to install, can be made diy-style, and are so helpful if you have a garden or some greenery around your house. Rain water barrels are barrels at the end of your downspouts which collect rain water running off your house to use for watering gardens or refilling outdoor ponds or whatever outdoor water uses you need. It is rain water, so it is not recommended for drinking water. However, if you have ever tried to keep a vegetable or flower garden during the warm summer months, you know it needs plenty of water to keep it growing healthily.
I was introduced to rain water barrels by my parents who built some DIY rain water barrels for their house. They have two in the backyard, made from recycled, plastic, open-topped 55 gallon drums with tap spouts, old snow-saucers, black netting, and bungie cords. (Totally my father's handiwork.) The black netting filters the rain water coming down the spouts, the snow-saucers provide the top while giving extra room for gunk to be on top of the filter and the bungie cords hold it all together. The whole apparatus sits on top of a few extra paving blocks so that there is room under the tap spouts to put a container or attach the garden hose.
Of course, if you don't have random drums, taps, or snow-saucers laying around your house, they do sell rain water barrels and kits at hardware and garden stores. Building your own out of recycled materials simply adds to the environmental fun of the project. Someday when we own a house, we will have rain water barrels on our downspouts. I look forward to watering my future vegetable and herb garden with home collected water.
Monday, May 10, 2021
I haven't quite managed one fully.
My favorite food growing up was chicken, preferably on a bone.
I was a little carnivore. I'm not that bad anymore. I enjoy a wide range of vegetables and other food these days. While with my diet being dairy free we use a lot of vegan products, there are no chances of our household going vegan any time soon. However, we have woken up to the harmful effects of the meat industry on our environment and we are trying to make better choices about which meats we buy and eat. The real costs of meat production are in the side effects, the billions of tons of water used. The tons of methane gas released into the air. The tons of carbon dioxide released from transportation and production. The chemicals and land used and the overall treatment of animals which happens along the way. Not to mention the tons of styrafoam used as grocery store trays and single use plastic for wrapping raw meat. The real costs of eating meat is not reflected in the monetary price at the cash register.
If you are like us and aren't quite ready to go vegetarian or vegan, but you want to do something, cutting back on how much meat, and specific types can make a difference. For those of you who meal plan and want to cut back on your meat consumption, introducing Meatless Mondays as a theme day can be a good way to start that process. Beef production is the single largest consumer of water and polluter of air in the meat industry. Jimmy and I have almost completely cut out buying beef. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey is more likely to be available locally and uses a quarter of the amount of water and land as beef. If you live near a large enough body of water, fish is a great source of protein and can be sustainably caught. Of course, if you live in-land, fish also has a travel cost associated with it.
After transportation and indoor environment, food production is the third largest area humans can make changes in to impact climate change for the better. Most of us have choices about which foods we buy and eat. When we think about the environment as we grocery shop, we are more likely to make a good impact for the future.
Friday, May 7, 2021
Sorry Mom, Mother's Day cut flowers are bad for the environment.
Not just Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and Memorial Day and funerals... all of these cut flowers add up to a bad cost on the environment.
Every year the flower industry dumps thousands of tons of harmful chemical pesticides into the environment and travels thousands of miles across long distances using fossil fuels to reach the customer. The trucks must be refrigerated and that means more fuel and more carbon dioxide going into the air. All of this waste goes to making sure the flowers are almost perfect looking.
This really makes me sad, because I love flowers and I like having flowers in my house. Of course, giving up cut flowers doesn't mean I cannot have flowers in the house. Another way to have flowers in the house is to grow them naturally. Buying seeds or plants which have been started naturally and are homegrown bring lots of beauty and color into a room. And you get the satisfaction of having grown them yourself!
So instead of buying Mom some cut flowers this Mother's Day, buy her a plant. Or even better, go outside and plant a tree together.
There's a popular Chinese proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Thursday, May 6, 2021
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Sixth Sunday of Easter BCP 225)
"Pour into our hearts such love towards you..." Keep on pouring God! Oh wait, our hearts are already full! If you pour it will simply overflow and we won't be able to hold that. We need to empty our hearts of all the other stuff we put in them so that God can pour love into them, and then we can share that love with others.
I definitely feel like my heart has gotten way too full this last year. I am slowly trying to process everything that has happened and what it means for me. As I do so, I am able to empty out a little bit of my heart, and I hope God will pour more love in there instead. The love which God pours into our hearts is not just God's love for us, which we very much need, but also God's love towards others, which helps us be in relationship with others.
Despite my fullness, I continue to pray, "keep on pouring God!" because hopefully I'll be able to hold God's love. Every time I catch a little more of God's love, I can share a bit more of God's love too. This world so desperately needs God's love. I pray we can all hold out our hearts to be filled with God's love.