by Tom Sine
A Commitment in Glasgow to Protect the World’s Forests and a Call from the Church in Wales to Promote Environmental Justice
“Global Leaders Pledge to Eliminate Deforestation by 2030 in a Landmark Agreement” announced the New York Times. Leaders of more than 100 countries, including Brazil, China, Russia, and the United States are down at the climate talks in Glasgow to end deforestation by 2030, a landmark agreement that encompasses some 85% of the world’s forests.
“12 governments committed $12 billion, and private companies pledged $7 billion, to protect and restore forests in a variety of ways, including $1.7 billion for indigenous peoples. More than 30 financial institutions also vowed to stop investing in companies responsible for deforestation. And a new set of guidelines offers a path toward eliminating deforestation from supply chains…
The value of healthy forests goes far beyond the ability to store away carbon. They filter water, cool the air and even make rain, supporting agriculture elsewhere. They are fundamental to sustaining biodiversity, which is suffering its own crisis as extinction rates climb…
President Biden said he would work with Congress to deploy up to 9 billion to the global effort through 2030. Preserving forests and other ecosystems can and should play an important role in meeting our ambitious climate goals.” — Catrin Einhorn and Chris Buckley, “Global Leaders Pledge to Eliminate Deforestation by 2030 in a Landmark Agreement” New York Times, November 2, 2021, p. A (Also published on Agriculturalextension)
I was particularly impressed by the thoughtful proposal created by five Bishops from Wales for this urgently important conference titled: Statement on COP26. Reportedly presentations at the conference on the environment in Glasgow were more dire than earlier conferences. This is what led to the title “2020s- the Make or Break Decade.” I selected the thoughtful proposals of 5 bishops of the church in Wales to present some very positive responses.
“The Climate Emergency is a profound challenge for humanity and the decisions made at COP26 will affect us all.
Scientists warn that this decade is critical to stave off catastrophic climate change. We are already witnessing extreme weather events. The unprecedented heatwaves, droughts and wildfires in the USA, Canada, Turkey, Greece and Siberia, the catastrophic floods in Germany and our own experience of Storm Dennis in South Wales last year are but a foretaste of what is in store for many more of us if we continue on our current path.
We must act fast to avert disaster. What happens in the next 10 years can change the course of history.
Climate change is also an issue of justice. People who are marginalised, on low incomes, and developing countries are most at risk. They have contributed least to the situation and yet they are the least able to adapt to the consequences.
Governments need to be bold, decisive and to act fast so that carbon emissions are cut drastically over the next few years and we have to hold them and ourselves to account.
Each one of us needs to limit our contributions to climate change by moving away from our unsustainable life-styles and consumption.”
Five Bishops of the Church in Wales committed to being Net Zero Carbon ideally by 2030 and by divesting from fossil-fuel companies by the end of 2021.
“We are now calling on our political leaders to:
- Take immediate action to achieve net-zero emissions.
- Limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
- Hear the voices of people already impacted by climate change and put their needs centre stage
- Equip those most at risk of climate change with the financial means to tackle climate change.
- Ensure that wealthier nations take the lead by sharing knowledge and resources with those nations experiencing the inescapable consequences of climate change.
- Take action to stop the use of fossil fuels and the expansion of fossil-fuel energy and invest in clean energy.
We also encourage people in Wales to take part on the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on November 6 to make their voices heard.
We all have an obligation to care for God’s creation and we pray that COP26 will prove a real turning point in our stewardship of earth’s precious resources.”
The Bishop of Bangor, Andy John
The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron
The Bishop of St Davids, Joanna Penberthy
The Bishop of Llandaff, June Osborne
The Bishop of Monmouth, Cherry Vann
photo by picography on pixabay
Join authors Tom Sine and Dwight J. Friesen as they explore three vital practices for thriving in a decade of accelerating change. In the fast-paced internet age of constant connection, it can be a challenge for the church to keep up with the needs of younger generations as well as predict and respond to the waves of change. Written for laypeople as well as pastors and Christian leaders, 2020s Foresight has something for everyone concerned about finding innovative options to respond to change and new generations in an authentic and Christlike way.
Last week for FreerangeFriday, we used Isaiah 40 to begin to consider our journey towards Advent this year. Considering the things that might be blocking our way, the rocks that need to be removed in order for us to prepare for the arrival of Jesus. How do we need to prepare Him Room?
Some of you may be already planning activities for your church communities, family, and friends. As a worship curator, I like to help people add participation to worship gatherings so that EVERYONE can learn and grow and remember the Message. We remember much more of what we do than what we hear, especially if we are not auditory learners.
One way to have everyone participate is to create what I call a “CORPORATE RESPONSE.” A Corporate Response is a Prayer Station or Prayer Action that everyone does in response to a lesson or teaching. We do the action or activity together, rather than on our own. I often ask leaders, pastors, teachers, what they want their people to “TAKE AWAY” with them. What do you want them to remember? Then I help them design a way to respond to this in a touchable, tangible way.
How do we participate in ADVENT? How do we remember that we can receive the HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE of Jesus this season? In this case by lighting a candle!
CREATE A CORPORATE RESPONSE ADVENT WREATH.
The concept is to create a large Advent wreath and have the center where the Christ candle would be, be a space for multiple candles to be lit by the people in your group. The leader can light the Advent Candle of the week, or have a volunteer do this and introduce the theme of the week like HOPE, but the action does not stop here. Everyone lights a candle and adds it to the wreath either before worship begins as they walk into the space, or following the sermon/teaching, or after taking communion.
You will need enough tea light candles for everyone in your group to light one and several lighters for people to use. Kids will need help with these! You might need more than one tray for candles according to the size of your group, or you might need to create a couple of stations.
You can start the first week of Advent by passing out the tealight candles or having them in the pews or chairs at the beginning of worship. Invite everyone to hold their candle and ask them to consider how they need to receive the LIGHT OF THE WORLD this Advent season. Give them time to talk to Jesus about this. You can also invite them to pray about how they can BE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD this Advent, and give them time to reflect and pray about this.
Then you can invite them to take home that candle to remind them to BE THE LIGHT of the World AND to RECEIVE the LIGHT of JESUS each day. Or you can have them take their candle to the Advent Wreath and add it to the center and LIGHT THEIR CANDLE and then take home a candle to remember they are to RECEIVE and BE the LIGHT of the World each day.
During worship each week of Advent, people are invited to LIGHT A CANDLE in the Advent wreath. The leader can decide what the prayer focus is…Such as ” BEING WILLING TO WAIT for JESUS”, Receiving and Being HOPE, JOY, or PEACE. You can direct this or have a Directional Sign by the Advent wreath to help them pray as they light their candles.
You can also do this at home or with your small group too. Create an Advent wreath with a tray of sand in the middle and tea lights for all your family members or group members. As you begin your time together or as you start your mealtime, have everyone light a candle. Ask them to share how they have seen Jesus that day…or how to use the questions above about how they need to receive the LIGHT, HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and/or LOVE of Jesus. Always give people time to pray and to share if they want to do so. It’s all about PARTICIPATION!
Here’s a video of HOW TO CREATE a Corporate Response for Advent and this idea is also a PRAYER STATION in the
If you have any questions or would like to brainstorm ideas for Advent or more ways to use corporate responses with your church community, just email me at email@example.com
Join Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin on Saturday, November 20th 9:30-12:30 PST (check my timezone) for an interactive, multi-sensory, creative retreat focused on the WONDER OF ADVENT! This retreat will be LIVE via zoom, but if you are unable to join live, you can sign up to watch the recording and participate later! Come with a creative heart, be inspired, have fun, and reconnect with the WONDER of the season.
photos and writing by Sue Duby
A different view today from my favorite coffee shop seat. Raindrops pound the tabletops outside. Golden leaves lie in soggy mounds, scattered across the pavement. Wipers swishing and headlights glaring on every passing car. Likely working up to a mini-flood on the neighboring street. My cold brew tastes. . . cold. Might be time to switch to hot lattes soon.
Tired of the Arkansas heat (living in shorts and sleeveless tops) and humidity (think major hair frizz), I’ve been whining to Chuck, “I’m ready for cold weather! I’m ready to clean up the garden, but everything is still blooming!” Impatient for the change, eager to move on to the “next.” And yet, now on the first day of “finally feels like Fall,” I’m grumbling at the hidden sunshine.
It’s a wrestling match in this life journey; trying to stay present in the moments, aware and grateful, yet anticipating and welcoming new seasons yet to unfold. Letting go of “what was” to be fully ready to step into “what is”. Recognizing the gifts and joys in either space. Tucking sweet memories away, while making new ones. Seeing His hand and presence in it all.
I recognize my keen ability to grumble in a season, rather than choosing to see the wonder. This morning, Chuck nudged me early to walk, so we’d miss the impending storm. Groaning, I followed him out into the dark–with his headlamp paving the way–me, longing for Daylight Savings to hurry up and bring me morning light. Somewhere along the way, I smiled. “This is a grand adventure! Out before the neighborhood wakes up. Savoring the quiet. Awed by the sunrise at the end of our walk.” Then, a bit shamed realizing next week, when the time changes, I’ll be tempted to grumble about early evening darkness, rather than joying in early sunrise.
I’m eager to recreate some flower spaces in the garden. Impatient for the first freeze, so I can do some digging. Just yesterday, I discovered blooming roses, daisies, and salvia–enough to make yet one more arrangement. Something flipped and I saw the “other side.” Who gets to play with flowers at the end of October?? A gift in the waiting that I almost missed.
Some season changes require intentional pondering. Not sure how it happened, but the days of jumping on the bed for morning snuggles faded into a grandson turning 13. Grateful for his healthy friendships, active sports life, and maturity, I’ve wrestled with waving goodbye to the little boy and figuring ways to enter his teenage journey. Yesterday, multiple texts led to multiple facetime chats. Lots of paper scribbling, discovering right angles and equation solving, laced with laughter and Nana resurrecting her teacher mode. Finishing off with a “Love you Nana!”. I smiled. . .grateful for creative connection in the new season.
Seasons are marked by “a particular circumstance or feature.” Sometimes, just a calendar shift, but more often, times in our life journey. He’s crafted every one. I don’t want to hold any too long, rush too fast to the next or skip the one I’m in.
As Fall manages to squeak in, before holidays arrive, I’m pondering. . .
- What season am I in?
- Where do I know His hand has been upon me?
- Where do I sense His hand is upon me now?
- Where do I sense Him leading me vs me pressing to make something happen?
- Am I waiting, rushing, or just contentedly present in the current season?
May every season bring new wonder, fresh insight, gratefulness, and His clear pathway forward.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
The Spirituality of Gardening Online Course is available for 180 days of access for only $39.99. This interactive course includes video sessions with Christine Sine as well as 8 other guest gardeners. Visit our store page for more information.
photos and writings by Elaine Breckenridge
This afternoon, I admired our young birch tree as it has now developed more yellow leaves than green leaves. A few leaves have fallen as well. We have had high winds today and there are more leaves in our backyard that have been on the move. I am reminded of two verses written in a poem by Edward Hays, in his book, Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim.
Brisk is the breeze of autumn tide
which sweeps in its path
crowds of leaves from countless trees,
collecting them in amber-colored communities
to share bright memories of the summer sun.
“Dust we are and to dust we shall return,”
sing orange-brown leaves,
as they circle-dance and cluster
in colonies of the dead.
I have not always admired autumn. While all of the seasons include elements of change; autumn has often brought me bouts of sadness and depression. I could never articulate why, until I read this, “Autumn speaks of connection and yearning, wisdom and aging, transformation and surrender, emerging shadows, and most of all, mystery.” The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr.
I used to resist this season of transition, with its yearning, aging, surrender and mystery. I did not like watching the leaves fall to the ground, knowing that I would not see new green leaves for months. It reminded me of my own aging and my difficulty in facing my shadow. Mystery was not appealing. Then, studying transition, I learned, “All human transition follows a natural process of disorientation and reorientation that marks the turning points on the path of growth.” Transition: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, William Bridges.
There you have it. I do not like the feeling of disorientation! I like to know where things are, where I am, and where everyone else is. Obviously, I have a hard time with moving. There is always that moment when trying to settle into a new place, I cannot find what I need when I need it. Yes, autumn is a metaphor for my own fear of change and of course powerlessness. This fear began to add more stress to my already stretched life. I was invited to dig deeper when I read,
“Autumn invites us to let go, to yield…. yes, to die. We are encouraged to let things move in our lives. Let them flow on into some new life form just as the earth is modeling these changes for us.” The Circle of Life
The earth is modeling these changes for us. I took that to heart and turned to Mother Nature as my mentor. I began to follow the tides. Living on Camano Island in Washington state is an island governed by the tides. It has taught me about the reality of transition and change. While I know that every six hours the landscape will look different, when it happens, it is both familiar and strange at the same time. Just when I think I know what to expect with the changing tide—surprise! Whether low tide or high tide, every day here on Camano Island, the land and the water look different. Sometimes there are logs to climb over or paths washed out. I am learning to take it in my stride.
Watching and breathing with the rhythm of the tides and noticing how often the landscape changes has become an icon into understanding the movement of the Spirit in my life. Whether it is the energy and growth of the incoming flood tide or the waning and diminishment of the outgoing ebb tide—I am seeing that the Eternal Spirit is like the changing tides and is constantly inviting me to ride its ebb and flow. She has taught me to accept that life and my life are in a constant rhythm of change. She is inviting me to drop my expectations about what the landscape of my life should look like. She has taught me about the importance of acceptance, non-attachment, and surrendering to “what is.”
Thanks to being schooled by the tides, I am no longer sad to see the coming of autumn. In fact, I like the slow transition of the season of “fall color.” The Creator gave us a gift in the colors of fall, splashing around such beauty before the trees are left with naked branches! Naked branches reveal aspects of the landscape we may have never noticed before. I am grateful for the gift of fresh eyes and an open heart to appreciate autumn. I give thanks to God for leading me to bless all that is. And so, I pray,
Blessed are you autumn,
with your flair for drama
you call to the poet in our hearts,
“Return to the earth, become good soil
wait for new seeds.”
Blessed are you autumn
season of unpredictability.
You inspire us to be flexible
to learn from our shifting moods.
Blessed are you, autumn
season of surrender
you teach us the wisdom of letting go
as you draw us into new ways of life.
–The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr
As autumn draws us into new ways of life, perhaps, embracing autumn and transition means re-learning how to let go into a fall with the curiosity and wonder of a child.
Set your intentions and gear up your heart for this season of gratitude with Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin! Explore ideas of gratitude, enjoy handouts and 4 video modules, an origami box tutorial, and more! This retreat is formatted as an online course so you have 180 days of access to work through the retreat at your own pace.
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by Laurie Klein
My love, to loving God above,
captures me in the round of love.
HE NEVER SAW IT FALL. There was no warning. No sound. No telltale chafe of metal over his knuckle. Unbeknownst to us—perhaps while raking garden refuse into a waist-high pile—my husband’s wedding ring slid from his finger. In that moment, one of our vow’s gleaming emblems vanished.
Time passed. Rain fell. His ring finger still bare, the tan line faded. And month by month, the ragged heap decomposed.
A few years later while harvesting the rich loam, his shovel clinked: Compost surrendered gold. Finding the ring at ground level beneath that crumbly mound bowled us over. Wonderstruck, he slipped his finger inside the band—still intact, a shape without end, albeit tarnished.
“A circle is a line that took a walk,” someone once said, “and returned home.”
Every imagined point on a circle lies equidistant from the center: silent perfection, uninterrupted. That simple image reflects God’s work from the beginning, when “[The Creator] . . . inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness” (Job 26:10 ESV).
In later centuries Celtic Christians sometimes surrounded their stone churches with crosses, as if to guard sanctuary, a place hemmed in by the love of Christ. Resisting the forces of darkness, Irish worshippers also composed encircling prayers: loricas (acknowledging the shield of God’s encompassing presence) and caims (invoking divine protection on all sides). Some believers even turned clockwise while praying, simultaneously honoring the sun’s path and visualizing divine provision vast as the compass points.
What goes around . . .
Circles also have a dark side. Recently during an argument with the Almighty, I thought about Moses, barefoot, at the burning bush. Afraid to help the Hebrew slaves escape Egypt, Moses verbally sparred several rounds with God, piling one lame excuse atop another. Those same people, later miraculously released, muddled and looped through the wilderness for the next forty years.
Was I caught in a cycle of fear and complaint? Would noting actual circles within my surroundings reanimate ancient lessons of faith? Perhaps I’d glimpse joy, a metaphorical glint of gold hidden within seeming darkness, dross, and debris.
The child within
Today, an annual global observance beckons the child in us all. On November 2 participants celebrate circles: buttons and wheels, crowns and dials; wreaths, clock faces, labyrinths, gears; bubbles and bird nests; wells, snickerdoodles, marbles, bowls; portholes, rosaries, Frisbees, coins.
Luci Shaw wrote, “Beyond these circles I can see / the circle of eternity.”
Whether we whirl or eddy, at our most alive we orbit Christ “in whom all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Habitual actions offer more opportunities. In the act of a moment—commonplace, yet personal—we embody or even complete circles, each time we . . .
- latch an anklet
- cinch a belt
- thread a hoop through a pierced ear
- clasp a necklace
- button a collar
- tie a trusty Windsor knot
- fasten a bracelet
- buckle a watchband
- twist a ring back into place
On any given day (and each one is given), ankles, waists, ears, necks, wrists, or fingers are embraced. The body itself might become a prayer. What words of blessing might we speak (or sing) while we carry out a familiar move?
Single or married, we know as the bride of Christ our fingers already bear the invisible imprint of God’s ring—a mark perhaps lost for a time when we were ardently sought in the darkness, then returned. To God. And to one another.
Like the line that took a walk, we are lovingly spliced back into the circle.
Listen: “Circle Me, Lord,” from A Thin Silence, by Jeff Johnson
Listen: Absorb this beautiful song, “Circle Me, Oh Lord,” from Amazing Grace: Celtic Hymns and Blessings, by David Huntsinger
Ponder: Read Rilke’s poem, “Widening Circles” (scroll down to fourth audio selection).
Savor: Admire these breathtaking curves throughout the famous basilica, Sagrada Familia, symbol of Barcelona, Spain (under construction since 1882, projected completion, 2026). BEGIN AT TIME STAMP 2:40.
Create: Take a gentle walk with a camera. Pause in a spot that compels your eye and spirit. Prayerfully “receive” (rather than “take”) four separate pictures, shifting a quarter turn for each shot. Do you sense an insight or invitation? How will you respond?
Listen to the Green, Luci Shaw
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God creates in circles. They are everywhere–from the patterns on our fingerprints, raindrops, snowflakes, petals and flowers, to the orbs of the sun and the moon and the earth itself. Then there are the circles of days and nights, of seasons, and of life too. And in our faith, there is the circle of God’s love embracing us and of God’s presence in us and in all of creation. Then I imagine the circle of all the witnesses whose lives we celebrate on All Saint’s Day standing in an incredible circle of support and love around each and every one of us.
Part of my love for circles comes from my attraction to Celtic Christian spirituality and especially the Celtic cross with the circle at its center. I have quite a collection of Celtic crosses including one large wooden cross whose pattern I sometimes trace my finger around in the same way I use a labyrinth.
I am also drawn to the circling prayers that were so much a part of their spirituality and have written a number in the past, several of which feature on our Celtic prayer cards.
My first rock painting was of a Celtic cross too and I still love to create Celtic crosses on pieces of rock I find on the various beaches we visit. My first painting began with one of the patterns from a book on Celtic art, then I decided to get more adventurous and paint a Celtic cross – not an easy exercise but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I heartily recommend it to you.
The cross sat on my desk for a number of months and I used it each morning as a focus for reflection. I added words that exemplified what the cross of Christ means to me. I started with love, joy, peace and grace, but this morning added mercy, and forgiveness. Eventually the area around the cross became so crowded that I relegated it to my box of rock art.
My cross is nowhere near perfect, and the ones I have created since are just as imperfect, but as I gazed at my photo of this cross again this morning I realized how fitting that was. After all, my view of the cross, its power, its pain and its beauty is nowhere near perfect either. I keep discovering new depths of meaning and purpose in it. I keep unveiling new ways in which I need to bow before it and absorb its messages for my life and for the world in which I live.
This year I did not create another piece of Celtic rock art. Instead I created a circle of candles around my sacred space/office area. This is my new way of celebrating both All Saints Day and Looking for Circles Day. Not surprisingly my reflections led to the writing of another prayer/poem.
Today I sit in God’s circle of light,
Breathing in, breathing out.
Today I sit in God’s circle of light
Light behind, light before, light circling all around.
Today I sit in God’s circle of light
With all the people of the world.
Loved, comforted, cared for,
On the journey to being made whole.
What is your response?
As you celebrate All Saints Day today, spend time thinking about that enormous circle of witnesses that surrounds you, encouraging you, supporting you and standing with you in good times and in bad. Now imagine that circle of God’s love extending out from this circle of witnesses, into your life and around all the people of the world. Perhaps like me, you would like to create your own circle of light, or otherwise draw a circle on a piece of paper and run your finger around it as you recite a circling prayer as a reminder that you are indeed embraced by God’s circle of light and love–not alone, but together with all the people of the world.
top photo from Unsplash
Join Christine Sine and Tom Sine on Wednesday, November 10th at 9am PDT (check my timezone) for our next FB Live! Can’t make it? No worries–we upload the sessions on our youtube channel so you can still enjoy the lively discussions and interesting topics discussed. And catch us live for the next session–happening here every other Wednesday!
A contemplative service with music in the spirit of Taize. Carrie Grace Littauer, prayer leader, with music by Kester Limner and Andy Myers.
Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-710-756 with additional notes below:
“Kristus Din Ande (Jesus, Your Spirit in Us) — Taizé Song” Copyright and all rights reserved by GIA/Les Presses de Taizé
“The Law of God is Love — simple arrangement” By Kester Limner, shared under the Creative Commons License, Attribution (CC-BY)
“God is Forgiveness — Taizé Song’ Copyright and all rights reserved by GIA/Les Presses de Taizé
“Kyrie” Music and Text by Kester Limner, shared under the Creative Commons License, Attribution (CC-BY)
“O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” Public domain hymn, arrangement by Kester Limner, shared under the Creative Commons License, Attribution (CC-BY)
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