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Unitarian Universalist

Ecology, Justice, and Compassion

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

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Unitarian Universalists and the United Nations celebrate this day as World Environment Day on June 5, 2017

By the Reverend Fred Small*

    Responsive Reading STLT # 442 We Bid You Welcome

      We bid you welcome, who come with weary spirit seeking rest.
        Who come with troubles that are too much with you who come hurt and afraid
      We bid you welcome, who come with hope in your heart.
        Who come with anticipation in your step,

        Who come proud and joyous.

      We bid you welcome, who are seekers of a new faith.
        Who come to probe and explore

        Who come to learn.

      We bid you welcome, who enter this hall as a homecoming,
        Who have found here room for you spirit.

        Who find in this people family.

      Whoever you are, whatever you are, Wherever you are on your journey,
        We bid you welcome.

    Prayer: Earth Day Prayer: In the Spirit of Indigenous Traditions by Vern Barnet ( followed by a moment of silent meditation)

      In the quietness of this place and in the Spirit of this Community in which we share and find strength let us pray.

      Infinite Spirit, sometimes called Grandfather, Grandmother, Father Sky, Earth Mother, Creator:

        We gather to praise your creation,
          to honor the swimmers and crawlers,
            the four-leggeds and the winged ones;
              we give thanks for the beauty and glory of creation
                and open our hearts to new ways to understand our place in the universe
                  -not the center or focus, but a humble and balanced place,
                    where every step we take becomes a prayer, where every word we say makes harmony with the vast, vibrating cosmos,
                      and where we know we are singing the song of life.
        We pray to know more deeply that we are in the Garden where every plant, animal and speck of dust is a living prayer.
          Without our brothers and sisters of the plant,animal and mineral kingdoms, the human family would end.
            So we want to bless them, as they bless us.
        We pray for humility—
          not to humble ourselves before presidents or priests, but before the ants and trees—
            for if we cannot be in true relation to the ant,we shall be outcasts of the garden.
              Let us cast the pollution from our eyes so we can see the glory and live with thanksgiving.
        Great Spirit, let us remember it is not how we talk but how we walk.
          When we say we love animals, let us protect them.
            When we say we that we love the plant people,let us honor them by living lightly on the earth.
              When we say we love the minerals,let us use them only in necessity,and remember their rightful places.
                Oil belongs in the ground,not in the air through our wasteful machines.
        Wondrous trees, breathing life into the atmosphere: your gifts of fire and shelter, fruit,and sailing are precious to us.And in many ways you offer us leaves of knowledge.
          May the vision of mutual interrelatedness, cosmic interdependence,the seamless process of generations,
            not end in cough-filled skies blotting the sun, but rather may clear air, healthy forests,wholesome water, expansive prairie, and pungent earth nourish paths for all creatures through mountain and valley, and the salt sea,and through a protective atmosphere,as we rejoice in the inhabitants.

      Hear and empower our mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle.

      With thanks for the surprise and mystery of it all, we pray in the name of the Creator,the Processes and Presences, and all our relations.

    Joys and Concerns: : (We throw a small stone into this bowl filled with water, to symbolize our thoughts, which move in circular rings eternally, like concentric waves.)

      We invite you to share your joys and concerns since our last meeting

    Story for All Ages:  (the children go to Religious Education at the end of the story and all of us will sing Noah's Cargo.


        Noah's Cargo Music: Jacob ’s Ladder (traditional)  Words: Fred Small, Copyright 2001 Pine Barrens Music (BMI)

      We are saving Noah ’s cargo (3x)

      Children of the Earth

      Every creature has its purpose . . .(3x)

      Children of the Earth

      Wolves and whales and owls and otters . . .(3x)

      Children of the Earth

      Send the dove to find safe harbor . . .(3x)

      Children of the Earth

      In the rainbow see the promise . . .(3x)

      Children of the Earth

    First Reading

      Our children and grandchildren will live in the world we leave them. They will live with the problems we have not yet solved. We must show them, by example, how to live in that future. They are learning from us right now. What values, what moral principles do we as a spiritual community need to transmit to them, that will give them the tools they will need? In our community we are called to have respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. We take it as a duty incumbent on us all to provide examples and support so that our children and grandchildren may grow to be confident that they are leaving a smaller lighter, footprint on the earth.

    Second Reading

      Temp'rate zones and tropic climes,
      True currents in thriving seas,
      Winds blowin' through breathing trees,
      Strong ozone and safe sunshine,
      Good planets are hard to find.

      Good planets are in demand,
      Clean beaches and sparkling sand,
      Land masses with room to spare,
      Jet streams and perfect air,
      High forests and low wetlands,
      Good planets are in demand.

      And the mind don't know
      If the heart can't see;
      Let the blind man go
      To his destiny...

      Good planets are rare indeed,
      Rain fallin' on crops and seed,
      Big rivers and good topsoil,
      Fuel sources from cane to oil,
      Green gardens of all we need,
      Good planets are rare indeed.

      And the mind don't know
      If the heart can't see;
      Let the blind man go
      To his destiny...

      Good planets are scarce and few,
      Earthworms and caribou,
      Strong food chains and tasty meals,
      Textiles and plants that heal,
      Iron mountains and skies of blue,
      Good planets are scarce and few.
      Steve Forbert


    "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality," said Martin Luther King, Jr., "tied in a single garment of destiny."

    Dr. King understood the essence of ecology: we belong to each other. Today, people of faith around the world are coming to understand that threats to the environment are threats to the principles of justice and compassion at the core of every religion.

    Automobile fuel economy is an environmental issue. But when our dependence on cheap gasoline drives a tanker aground and the spreading slick deprives an Inuit family of seal meat, that's an issue of justice and compassion.

    Recycling is an environmental issue. But when a Chicago woman who's never smoked cigarettes gets lung cancer from breathing fumes from an incinerator burning recyclable trash, that's an issue of justice and compassion.

    Deforestation is an environmental issue. But when tree root systems no longer hold soil in place and a mud slide sweeps away a peasant village, that's an issue of justice and compassion.

    Energy conservation is an environmental issue. But when our tax dollars subsidize prison construction instead of green job training that could keep at-risk teens out of prison, that's an issue of justice and compassion.

    Climate change is an environmental issue. But when people on the island nation of Tuvalu must abandon their homeland before it's swallowed by the sea, that's an issue of justice and compassion.

    As we awake to the dangers of global warming, we realize that our profligate use of fossil fuels offends our most fundamental religious precepts.

    Every religious tradition teaches us to hold sacred the wonders of creation, yet wantonly we desecrate them.

    Every religious tradition cautions us to temper our cravings for sensation and material things, yet we pursue them addictively, vainly hoping to fill our spiritual emptiness.

    Every religious tradition forbids theft, yet global warming steals from our children and our children's children. Its victims are and will be disproportionately poor and of color—those least able to contend with or to flee the storms, droughts, famines, and rising sea levels to come.

    People of faith take the long view. We know that a community survives and thrives not merely in space but also through time, extending backward through memory and tradition and forward through vision and legacy.

    According to the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Today's political leaders are hard-pressed to consider the impact of their decisions beyond the next election. Like the prophets of old, people of faith must call our leaders to higher values—from our pulpits and pews, in the public square, and at the ballot box.

    Since the days of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, Unitarian Universalism (UUism) has been a cradle of environmental awareness and activism. Our seventh principle, "respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part," articulates both a timeless spiritual truth and an urgent call to action.

    Since 2002, 59 Unitarian Universalist congregations have been accredited as Green Sanctuaries in recognition of their achievements in ecology-based worship and religious education, environmental justice, and sustainable living. In 2006, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) meeting in General Assembly approved a compelling Statement of Conscience on global warming, which UUA President Rev. William G. Sinkford calls "one of the greatest moral and spiritual crises facing Earth's people today."

    To heal the wounds of our planet and its peoples, to restore right relations among all God's creatures, to apportion the earth's abundance with equity and generosity—these challenges will demand all our courage, creativity, devotion, and sacrifice.

    Will people of faith heed the call? The answer may determine the fate of the biosphere and countless imperiled species—including the miraculous evolutionary experiment called humanity.

    * Rev. Fred Small is minister of First Parish Cambridge Massachusetts, located in Harvard Square. "An old church for a new world". He is co-chair of Religious Witness for the Earth, a national interfaith environmental network. In March 2007, Fred was one of the lead organizers of the Interfaith Walk for Climate Rescue from Northampton to Boston, Massachusetts. In July 2007, Grist Magazine named Fred one of 15 Green Religious Leaders worldwide.

      There are infinite solutions to the problem, we invite you to create your own. Here are some ways to Reduce our Ecological Footprint
    • 1 Walk, bicycle.or take public transportation instead of driving.
    • 2 Buy locally grown food and locally produced products
    • 3 Consolidate errands for fewer car trips.
    • 4 Reduce meat consumption or go vegetarian and use reusable bags for shopping.
    • 5 Install a programmable thermostat
    • 6 Support habitat conservation, and farmland and open-space preservation.
    • 7 Capture rain water for yard and garden use.
    • 8 Landscape with native plants that provide food and habitat.
    • 9 Increase AC settings in summer and use fans, decrease heat setting in winter, put on ANOTHER sweater!
    • 10 Use compact fluorescent lamps for lighting
    • 11 Use earth friendly cleaning products- for your home and your body
    • 12 Put insulated wrap around your water heater.
    • 13 Maintain you landscape organically.
    • 14 Caulk and improve insulation in your home.
    • 15 Pay bills on line, Send e-cards to friends
    • 16 Avoid using bottled water
    • 17 Use a solar clothes drier ( clothes line)
    • 18 Be an advocate for sidewalks, greenways and bikeways
    • 19 Advocate for in-fill development
    • 20 Avoid using electricity during peak hours ( 7-10 AM and 6-9 PM)
    • 21 Downsize your home
    • 22 Be grateful and give thanks for the abundance of life every day.
    • 23 Use needle and thread (sew) small holes (in socks especially) and tears in clothing, make them last longer.

              There are infinite solutions to problems
                    Create Your Own

      Hymn   Everything Possible

        We have cleared off the table, the leftovers saved,
          Washed the dishes and put them away
            I have told you a story and tucked you in tight
              At the end of your knockabout day
                As the moon sets its sails to carry you to sleep
                  Over the midnight sea
                    I will sing you a song no one sang to me
                      May it keep you good company.
          You can be anybody you want to be,
            You can love whomever you will
              You can travel any country where your heart leads
                And know I will love you still
                  You can live by yourself, you can gather friends around,
                    You can choose one special one
                      And the only measure of your words and your deeds
                        Will be the love you leave behind when you're done.
            There are girls who grow up strong and bold
              There are boys quiet and kind
                Some race on ahead, some follow behind
                  Some go in their own way and time
                    Some women love women, some men love men
                      Some raise children, some never do
                        You can dream all the day never reaching the end
                          Of everything possible for you.
              Don't be rattled by names, by taunts, by games
                But seek out spirits true
                  If you give your friends the best part of yourself
                    They will give the same back to you.

        Learn more at Peaceful Uprising