In Jamaica there’s a saying that goes “We likkle but we Tallewah!” meaning we might be small, but we are mighty. That’s how I felt about the day of service on this past Sunday. Though a small group, we were strong in our presence in the community and did something big! We picked up over 60 pounds of trash in our surrounding neighborhood of Logan Square!
Before the group set out for the trash pick up, we spent some time talking about “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday and also the upcoming eco-justice campaign. We decided to dedicate the first 15 minutes of our trash pick-up in quiet contemplation, reflecting on our relationship with God in nature and what eco-justice actually means.
We all had a great time and felt a true connection to God, our surroundings and one another. We truly lived God’s work using our hands!
And thank you for joining us for “God’s Work. Our hands” Sunday. Really appreciate everyone making the time on their busy Sunday to take part.
The purpose of God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday was two-fold. The first was to join the rest of the Lutheran church across America (albeit a week late) in a day of service. It was a day of celebration! A day to celebrate who we are as Christians, called upon to love God and to love one another. We show this love through many ways. Some churches spent a day working in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, some visited an orphanage or nursing homes. We decided to focus on the community where St. Luke’s resides and do a neighborhood trash clean-up of Logan Square.
The second purpose of God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday was to kick-off our next social justice campaign which is titled “Eco-Justice.”
The term “eco-justice” emerged after the first Earth Day in 1970. An Episcopal priest named Norman Faramelli emphasized that “choosing [to work for] ecology instead of [against] poverty, or vice versa, is to make a bad choice;” the way ahead is to choose both.
After the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and now Jose; with wildfires and drought throughout the west; and a current presidential administration that does not support the belief that climate change is real and is caused by human activity, Eco-justice seems more timely than ever.
Job 12:7-10 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
At times it can feel too big and too broad to tackle an issue that we will likely not be able to solve in our lifetime. But as Jesus calls us to love and serve our neighbor, he doesn’t just mean our physical neighbor, but the foreigner and the future generations we will never meet. God’s Work is everywhere and in everything, we worship him by worshiping all of it.
This past week, the eco-justice campaign team met to talk about the campaign and what we want it to look like. Luke Allgeyer brought up “interconnectedness.” How in ecology, each system of land is tied to the water, which is tied to the atmosphere, which is tied to the weather, which is tied to the crops, which is tied to the animals which is tied to the people.
For too long, humans have neglected to acknowledge this interconnectedness. We have taken from the land, without giving back.
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.” (NIV)
We as individuals, as a community and as a church are tied to one another. And we need to support and love one another by being conscious of our effect on the environment and all that it encompasses.
While Job speaks about the God’s role in the interconnectedness of nature, and Ezekial urges us to look after the weakest in the flock, Genesis shows God’s commandment for man to be a part of the environment and to care for it:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'”
Eco-justice is not just cleaning up a neighborhood like we are doing today though. The purpose of today is to get ourselves in the mind-set and to be intentional with this campaign. What are we doing, and why are we doing it? What is eco-justice and why does it matter?
Eco-justice is a social justice issue because it is a humanitarian issue.
ECO-JUSTICE IS A SOCIAL ISSUE BECAUSE IT IS A HUMANITARIAN ISSUE.
People are dying every day at the hands of climate change.
So, for the next 3 months leading up to Advent we are going to be fighting for this issue as a church and as a community. This social justice campaign is going to focus on 3 things; education, advocacy and service. There will be testimonies given, guest presenters and speakers, we will be raising money for two organizations; Faith in Place and Earth Justice.
There will be a petition supporting legislation for clean energy in Illinois.
On October 15th, St. Luke’s will be joining Faith in Place to attend the Environmental Summit at the Field Museum, and to find out more please speak to Callie Mabry.
And lastly, we will be having days of service, such as this one where we look to clean up our environment and be of service to the land God gave us.
Most importantly we want to be mindful and intentional with this campaign and acknowledge where our food comes from, the waste we are producing, how much energy we as a church are using and what small tasks we can do to make a difference. St. Luke’s alone will not save the world with this campaign, but we can make our community a leader in Chicagoland; speaking out and raising awareness for Eco-Justice, together.
Below are questions we asked ourselves during the clean-up on Sunday. We hope you find them helpful meditations as we enter into this campaign together:
- When have I felt the most connected to the environment and nature?
- When have I heard or felt God in nature?
- What actions am I taking today to better protect God’s environment?
- What is eco-justice?