Monday, February 28, 2011

This Lent, Give Up Carbon and Keep the Chocolate!

By: LeeAnne Beres
Earth Ministry Executive Director

Forty days of Lent. Nine hundred and sixty hours. Fifty-seven thousand, six hundred minutes. This time before Easter is one for reflecting on and fasting from the actions, objects, or attitudes in our life that separate us from God. For many, it is also a time of renewal and reconnection, to our Creator and the great gift of creation.

Marjorie Thompson writes in her book Soul Feast, “For the early church, Lent was just the opposite of a dreary season of restriction.…It was understood as an opportunity to return to…the life of natural communion with God that was lost to us in the Fall.”

In this view, Lent is a time to restore our life of natural communion with God, which includes understanding both our limits and the limits of God’s creation. One way to celebrate Lent, therefore, is to practice practical ways of honoring those limits.

The spiritual practice of fasting, accompanied by prayer and meditation, moves us to be more open to the will of God in our lives. Fasting helps us listen to what God wants us to be and to do. During Lent this year, Earth Ministry and Washington Interfaith Power & Light invite you to try a “fast from carbon,” that is, to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere.

Why should you consider a fast from carbon? There are at least five reasons:

1. The carbon dioxide we are putting into the environment, in the form of greenhouse gases, is changing the climate of God’s creation, our planet Earth. Scientists no longer debate the basic facts of climate change.
2. The sources of these greenhouse gases are largely produced by human beings and the society we have created.
3. The largest component of greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide, which comes from the burning of fossil fuels during the generation of electricity and from the modes of transportation that we use.
4. Unless we reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases, the impact of these increases will be devastating for our planet, for its people—especially the poor and vulnerable—and for the plants and animals that have lived here for millions of years. Time is critical.
5. God created this Earth, declared it to be good, and expects us to care for creation and to maintain its goodness for future generations.

Engaging your congregation in a carbon-free Lent is a practical and timely way to put faith into action. These free resources can help you get started.

Lenten Creation Care Resources

Earth Ministry/WAIPL’s Prayer and Action Guide for a Lenten Fast from Carbon
This Lenten prayer guide features seven prayerful reflections (for Ash Wednesday and the six Sundays of Lent), which include insights on regional impacts of climate change, Scripture readings and prayers, and actions of individuals wanting to reduce carbon their carbon footprints. An excellent resource for weekly bulletin inserts, adult forums, and even personal devotions.

Earth Ministry/WAIPL’s 2011 Carbon Fast for Lent Calendar
This 40-day calendar suggests a practical, carbon-dioxide-reducing action for each day of Lent (e.g., "find the most environmentally friendly way to get to church today" and "run your dishwasher only with a full load"). And under this program, you can have your chocolate and be observant too: the Lent calendar allows for an indulgence in a Theo Chocolate bar, which is organic and free-trade certified.

Additional inspiration for Lenten reflection can be found on Earth Ministry’s Lenten Devotions and Resources page, including an Environmental Stations of the Cross service.

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