Lenten Reflections Week 3: Plants and Trees

Scripture: Genesis 1:9-13

Reflection: On the third day of creation God created land, seas and vegetation. I remember sort of skipping past this day when I was a kid when I read the story of creation. The stars and animals in the following days that caught much more of my imagination and attention. But now being older and wiser, I realize the incredible value, complexity and beauty that can be found in plants and trees around us. It was no mistake that God made plants and trees before the animals and humans that would need them for sustenance and shelter. We literally could not survive without them. Plants and trees feed us, they pull carbon-dioxide from the air, they give us oxygen, hold soil in place, they push nutrients into the ground, they provide shade and protection, we use them for clothing, bedding, furniture and for enjoyment.

God designed us to need them and also instructed us to cultivate them and care for them. But somewhere along the line in our modernized world we have lost connection with them. We think in terms of products and profits, and can lose sight of God’s provision for us through them.

Suggested action: This week, try to avoid all food waste. Instead plan your meals for the coming week and purchase only the food that you need for those meals. Use a shopping list so that you don’t buy food you already have. Store food properly. Use wilted vegetables and fruit for soups or smoothies, or freeze them before they go bad. Use leftover bread for breadcrumbs. For other suggestions on simple ways to cut back, check out 20 Ways to Reduce Food Waste: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/reduce-food-waste

Suggested resources: Two films, “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” (Amazon Prime) and “Kiss the Ground” (email CEF for a link to view it for free or visit https://kissthegroundmovie.com/) and “The Green Bible” NRSV (Zondervan).

Action suggestions are from: “A Fast for the Earth: Lent 2021 a resource created by The Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care Diocese of Toronto”

All film suggestions are from the PBS Independent Lens blog “Earthy Day Watch list: 17 Films About Sustainability and Climate Change” (with the exception of “Chasing Ice” and “Black Fish”  which are from other sources). All the listed movies offered as suggestions by CEF as starting points for discussion around sustainability and stewardship.  https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/earth-day-watch-list-17-new-films-about-sustainability-climate-change/

Image: Georgia O’Keefe, “Autumn Leaves”

Lenten Reflections: Week 2 – Water

Scripture: Genesis 1:6-8

Reflection: On the second day of creation God spoke the water and sky into being. I love the image of God’s breath becoming the water that gives us life, that makes up over 60% of our bodies and over 70% of the surface of our world. Water gives us life. Very little on our planet exists without it and is untouched by it. And when God created it, God called it “good.”

One of the themes of scripture is that water brings life. The Psalms use water as an image for our longing and need for God (Psalm 1:3, Psalm 23:2, Psalm 63:1). Jesus also uses that language and idea when describing our need for Him: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water”” (John 7:37). Water is necessary. We need it to survive and if we do not have it our bodies scream out for it. We are dependent on it. Just as we are dependent on God for our life and being. Water is both a life giving gift from God and reminder of our need for Christ and for the life He gives us. 

God’s creation is dependent on water as well, and God has positioned us as co-creators and carers for that creation. When water is depleted, poisoned or degraded, neither we nor creation can experience its life giving properties. It ceases to be a picture of God’s sustaining grace. It’s easy to take water for granted, especially when we live or work in places where it’s readily accessible. But if we remember that every molecule and crystal of it comes from God’s own words and will, how do we begin to think about caring for it differently?

Suggested action: If you have unlimited clean water, try to reduce your water use, and save energy by using cold instead of hot. Try to spot-clean clothing so that it doesn’t have to be washed as often, and wash only full loads of laundry. Set the timer for 5 minute showers, and turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Instead of using the hot water setting on your washing machine, wash your laundry in cold water. Consider taking a walk near your local body of water and thinking of the ways that water sustains the world around it and the way God sustains us.

Suggested resources: Chasing Coral (Netflix) or Chasing Ice (Prime) and the book “Climate for Change” by Katherine Hayhoe

Action suggestions are from: “A Fast for the Earth: Lent 2021 a resource created by The Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care Diocese of Toronto”

All film suggestions are from the PBS Independent Lens blog “Earthy Day Watch list: 17 Films About Sustainability and Climate Change” (with the exception of “Chasing Ice” and “Black Fish”  which are from other sources). All the listed movies offered as suggestions by CEF as starting points for discussion around sustainability and stewardship.  https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/earth-day-watch-list-17-new-films-about-sustainability-climate-change/

Image: Claude Monet’s “Sunrise”

Lenten Reflections – Ash Wednesday

Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5

In the beginning God created…” is one of the best opening lines ever written. It sets up our understanding of the world, and our understanding of God. In other religions the origins of the world are often described as violent, brutal, and focused on the anger or the desire of the gods. The Judeo-Christian story is different. The epic hymn in chapter one of Genesis celebrates a God who cares deeply about the world and everything in it. It celebrates a God who speaks life into every aspect of creation and calls it “good.” 

On the first day of creation God created light and dark, day and night. Through that act God set in place a rhythm for our lives. It’s a rhythm that all of creation experiences along with us; periods of activity and sleep, of work and rest. As we approach this next week, think about the ways God has created rhythms in your life that sustain you and help you flourish. 

Remember also that God created us from dust taken from the earth, breathed life into us and placed us in this world. We are connected to it and part of it. We are a part of God’s good and incredible creation.

Suggested action: Make this week a special focus on learning more about the world around you. Find out what watershed you live in. Go for a walk and see how many different birds and trees you can identify. Watch an environmental documentary or read a book or article about creation care.  Visit the Climate Caretakers Resources page for some book and movie recommendations: https://climatecaretakers.org/resources.

Suggested resources: A Netflix series, “Our Planet” https://www.netflix.com/title/80049832 , and the book “For the Beauty of the Earth” by Steven Bouma-Prediger 

Action suggestions are from: “A Fast for the Earth: Lent 2021 a resource created by The Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care Diocese of Toronto”

All film suggestions are from the PBS Independent Lens blog “Earthy Day Watch list: 17 Films About Sustainability and Climate Change” (with the exception of “Chasing Ice” and “Black Fish”  which are from other sources). All the listed movies offered as suggestions by CEF as starting points for discussion around sustainability and stewardship.  https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/earth-day-watch-list-17-new-films-about-sustainability-climate-change/

Image: Winslow Homer, “Moonlight, Wood Island Night”

Lenten Reflections

During Lent we often give up significant things to help us remember Christ’s sacrifice. This Lent we hope you’ll join us in doing more than just giving things up  – and instead choose to engage in a variety of activities and changes that will help sustain God’s good creation. Each week – starting tomorrow with Ash Wednesday – we’ll post a new scripture, reflection and suggested action on the Campus Edge blog to help you think more deeply about how to care for the various aspects of our created world.  You can also access them via our Instagram and Facebook accounts.

However, if you would like to sign up for weekly Lenten Reflection reminder emails, please email: info@campusedgemsu.com with the subject heading “Lenten Reflections”


The suggested actions come from: “A Fast for the Earth: Lent 2021 a resource created by The Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care Diocese of Toronto” and All film suggestions are from the PBS Independent Lens blog “Earthy Day Watch list: 17 Films About Sustainability and Climate Change” (with the exception of “Chasing Ice” and “Black Fish”  which are from other sources). All the listed movies offered as suggestions by CEF as starting points for discussion around sustainability and stewardship.  https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/earth-day-watch-list-17-new-films-about-sustainability-climate-change/.

Liminal Spaces by Dara Nykamp

This year has been one of living in liminal space for me.  The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word liminal as “of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition: in-between, transitional.” That concept of “in-between-ness” has marked my year. Transitioning from my job doing prison ministry to joining Campus Edge. Transitioning from life in Kalamazoo to life in Lansing. Even transitioning from life as we knew it to life during a pandemic and its associated adjustments. This year has been a year of waiting, transition and change. 

Transition used to be something I avoided at all costs. But lately I’ve grown to value transitions. New semesters, new classes, new places to live all provide a chance to make new decisions. They allow us to create new patterns in our lives. There has been a ton of speculation on how the pandemic, this year of waiting for things to reopen and normalize, will shape our decisions and lives moving forward. Will the patterns we created become part of our new routines? Will we jump back into all of our roles, activities and habits from before, or will we make new choices after having lived in this liminal space?  

We see people faced with that same set of questions over and over in the Bible. When the Israelites left Egypt they made a new choice to follow God. When they came to the promised land they renewed their relationship with God.  In living in exile, returning from exile and waiting for the Messiah to come – the nation of Israel lived with liminality for centuries. The prophets even encouraged them to live in that liminal space, Jeremiah told the people to “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce” (Jeremiah 29:5) while waiting to come back from exile. God wanted their lives to flourish. God wanted them to thrive. Sometimes the people managed to follow God, to change their lives. Sometimes they fell back into old patterns. 

Even Christ’s description of his Kingdom has a liminal aspect. When the disciples decided to follow Jesus they stepped into the “already-but-not-yet” nature of Jesus’ kingdom on earth. Jesus was on earth showing people a glimpse of his kingdom and pointing them to an even more glorious future marked by the Spirit’s dwelling in believers’ hearts and the eventual coming of the New Heaven and New Earth. He was living and leading in liminal space. 

So, what does it mean for us as Christians to live in liminality? It means we realize that the world we are living in is not perfect, but that we can catch glimpses of God’s kingdom right here and right now. For us today God’s kingdom is in every act of love and kindness, every action we take that is Spirit lead and faith driven. It is here when we gather together as Christians and when we pause to reflect with thankfulness on everything that God has given us. The year has held grief and loss and been one full of transitions. But it can also be full of hope as we look toward the choices we make as things “get back to normal”.