Election Day is almost here! Some people are excited about what the future holds while others are ready for advertisements and random text messages to cease. Soon enough it will all be over and we will move forward with those we have chosen to represent us.
I see voting as a civic duty. Its sharing your opinion on who you think can attack the relevant issues taking place both locally and nationally. Voting has become a mechanism for people to make change. It is where the collective voice is heard not just mine individually. Sometimes my voice will be with the majority while others it may not. Despite the outcomes it is in the act of voting that is important because it deliberately declares I have a voice and it will be counted.
How does this all relate to Christianity? Jesus wanted everyones voice to be heard. He overthrew the systems in place to turn everything upside down. He understood the discrimination and injustice and wanted to end it. Jesus healed the unclean, worked on the Sabbath, and spoke with woman and those outcast. He did this because he loved them, wanted them to be in relationship with God, and for them to have basic rights. Their voice mattered to him and he wanted the best for them. Today when so much matters on the resources available, economy, etc. voting matters. It gives people a voice and is a mechanism for change in this world. To me it seems like something Jesus would have advocated for.
Let's look closer at few things regarding voting.
Preventing individuals from voting has been happening since the beginning of the country. It was originally only white males that could vote unless you lived in New Jersey. New Jersey allowed single woman to vote up until 1807 when the state restricted their right to match the rest of the country. African Americans were unable to vote until 1870. And women who had campaigned for 70 years finally were given the right in 1920. You can read more about this in Erin Geiger Smith's new book "Thank You for Voting" which talks about the history and current dynamics of voting in America. One interesting fact is that voting is on Tuesday because of farmers schedule back in the 1700's.
Today allowing individuals to vote has become a political game. This comes with closing down polling stations so people have to stand in long line for hours at a time. Creating additional registration requirements or deadlines for people to access their right to vote. Moving polling stations outside of town so those without transportation are unable to vote. This strategy impacts the poor and impoverished by creating more difficulty for them to vote. Dodge City did this in 2018 which received national news. My point is Jesus fought for the poor and when we continue to create divisions to prevent people from acting on a constitutional right then I think we are not living up to our ideals.
Early Voting/ Mail In
Early voting or mail in ballots have been done state wide in Oregon since 1996 for all elections. They saw an increase in voting percentage meaning more people get to have a voice in what is happening. Washington moved to do this in 2011. Utah and Colorado started using mail in voting in 2013. The accessibility also saw an increase in voter percentage. In today's busy world and election day being on a working Tuesday, it only makes sense to give people additional options to fulfill their constitutional right.
For those worried about voter fraud with mail in ballots check out this New York City of Law report. You can also check out heritage.org and look at the numbers. It's not saying it doesn't happen its saying the number is so insignificant that it has no impact. Most voter fraud comes from clerical errors. Kansas, Kris Kobach only prosecuted 4 cases of voter fraud after indicating it was a major problem. Obviously we all want safe elections. We have been having elections for some time and I believe we do this well. In the middle of a pandemic we need to look at all options to keep people safe but we should be doing this anyways just to increase peoples rights.
The whole point of all this is for you to go out and vote and advocate for others to vote! If you really believe in the constitution and that everyone should have a right as equal people to have a say then get out and vote. Get your friends, neighbors, and anyone you can to fulfill their civic duty either by mail or in person.
This week advocate for others to vote!
Recently my wife and I took a trip to the country of Iceland for our ten year anniversary. It was an amazing trip with awesome views, wonderful people, and great food. We loved learning about their culture and country.
One interesting thing is Iceland has eliminated the use of plastic bags. Every supermarket required you take your own bags in or just take the groceries to the car. When I researched this I found the supermarkets in Iceland vowed in 2018 to eliminate all plastic bags by 2023. Check out the article here. It appeared to me they are already very close to reaching that goal. The people we talked to had positive things to say about removing plastic bags from their country. It was apparent that it happened very quickly and people just adapted.
So why is plastic so bad for the world?
1. Plastic doesn't biodegrade so it photo degrades to small pieces covering the ocean. Marine animals mistake it for plankton because there is 6 times as much, which ends up killing animals when they eat it.
2. 10% of the plastic we use each year ends up in the ocean. The rest of it becomes waste we cannot get rid of. FYI the world uses somewhere between 500 billion to 1 trillion bags in one year.
3. The production of plastic uses about 8% of our oil resource.
4. Toxic chemicals leak out of plastics affecting people's health, groundwater, and environments.
(Facts from The World Counts)
For more information you can also check out this video by Discovery Channel talking about the impact of plastic on our world. It tells you what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch really is.
In the US plastic is everywhere. It's almost a habit of all retail workers to automatically put items in a plastic bag for the consumer. Tons of products are encased in plastic bottles or plastic wrappers. So how do we reduce our use of plastic to make a healthier world and why?
It seems if we are to really hold the principle of Sacredness of Creation we have to understand how what we do impacts the world. If marine life are significantly affected by something we produce than do we embody this principle? If our children's world is significantly unhealthier because of the choices we make today are we lifting this principle up?
Let's explore this topic of Sacredness of Creation and why caring about our world is good for our spirituality.
Enduring Principle Sacredness Of Creation
In a past post "Sacredness of Creation" we highlighted the churches definition of the enduring principle. This definition tells us a lot about ourselves and the world. Defining it gives us ways to measure and understand what we are looking for as a principle.
I have to wonder if sometimes we stop God from creating by doing things in this world that are harmful to it. When we negatively impact the earth does it limit creation?
It seems greed is at the heart of much of the world's consumption. We are always wanting things bigger, better, and more convenient. And people are wanting to make more no matter the cost to the environment. I'm not going to lie I am a sucker for convience. It's so easy to throw away something thats broken instead of taking the time to fix it. But that may not be the best stewardship of our world. If our mindset is constantly thinking about the bottom line instead of the extraneous factors of how a product impacts people or the environment than are we doing an injustice to our world? But where is the line between hopeful desire and greed?
For instance I enjoy going on adventures and exploring new things. I think one of the greatest things we can do it is explore and experience others cultures. However does the consumption of resources for this to happen become greed at some point? Should we be happy and at ease with what we have? I'm not sure there is a correct answer for this but something each of us have to figure out for ourselves. What do you think?
Caring About Our World
When we feel apart of the world or creation around us our spirituality is enhanced. We realize its not just me but we! We are in this together and we all are parts of the whole. Our spirituality can actually be connected to the environment. Jocelyn Mercado talks about this some in her article "The Spiritual Side of Environmentalism." Dr. Roger Gottlieb also discusses this in the article "Why Spirituality and the Environmentalism Need Each Other."
It seems when we work towards positive solutions for the earth we are also deepening our spirituality. What does it mean to be spiritual? Is it not also being connected to our environment? I find caring for the earth and trying to conserve what I can, enhances my spiritual life. Its what we do as a society which shapes the culture we live in. If we choose to be more environmental friendly than there is a better chance others will too.
Ways To Care For The World
Here are just a few ways we can care for our world in our everyday lives.
1. Eliminate plastic straws from your life - Straws get stuck in marine animals noses. Check it out on youtube. You can buy reusable metal straws instead!
2. Ride your bike to work or carpool - Stops from submitting extra gases into the environment and gives you a great exercise. Just be sure to pack deodorant!
3. Shut off the water when you brush your teeth - Look down and notice the water running why you hum ABC. Shut it off and conserve the water!
4. Start Composting - Composting breaks down banana peels and other items creating very rich soil which can be used for gardening. It eliminates it from sitting in a trash bag for years.
5. Use Reusable Bags - Of course I couldn't leave this one out. Be like our Icelandic friends!
6. Avoid Printing - Get digital receipts, make notes on iPhone or ipad, and if you do print reuse the paper. I love reading actual books but digital books and audio books are excellent ways to save paper.
7. Do Not Use Styrofoam - Avoid cost saving efforts and get something that is able to be recycled. It's not that much more and is much better for the environment.
8. Use Real Coffee Cups - There is nothing more stylish than a good looking coffee mug! Find one you like and use it. I'm sure people will say something about it!
9. Eat Your Leftovers - I can't believe I have to even write this! I love leftovers but not everyone does. Leftovers stop us from using more materials for no reason. If you really can't go give them to someone who can.
10. Fix Things - Fixing things yourself does two things. It prevents other material from having to be used and you feel self accomplished.
I'm so glad you all care so much about God's creation! Thanks for following along.
This week take up one of these or some other way to care for the world!
God spoke to me today
In the beauty of the hills towering before me
Through the colors of the dawn painting the morning sky
With the music of the wind whispering through the trees
In the movement of the grasses waving to and fro
At the sight of the flowers opening to greet the light
In the flight of the birds soaring high and higher
With the dance of the dewdrops glistening like diamonds
In the awe of the rainbow giving us the promise of hope.
All of creation speaks of His love
I know that God is.
- Helen Billings -
I watched a documentary on caribou one night when nothing else seemed to interest me. It discussed the declining population because of human expansion and the continued challenges they face each year. One interesting fact they stated was that each year the caribou migrate back to the same area on the Arctic refuge's coastal plain to give birth to their young. This migration is reported to have been happening for over 27,000 years. These caribou, some thousands of miles away somehow instinctively know exactly when to head back and where to go.
The migration is not without challenges as wolves and bears hunt the caribou along the way. The caribou stay together and protect one another but ultimately they will lose some of their own. After making the long journey the caribou aggregate together and bring new life to their herds. After a set time the caribou migrate back to the places from where they came. Why not stay in the same place where it is safe? I'm not for sure however I find the communal act of migrating together just as their ancestors did to be fascinating. Maybe its the journey together which is the beauty of their life.
Just like the caribou we also our on journey's. When we are aware and open to witnessing God's spirit we can see the incredible ways God is speaking to us through his creation. It's all around us. I think about the shallow root system of redwoods and how these gigantic trees need to intertwine their roots with others trees and plant life to stand. Or how fungi generate partnerships with trees and other plant life creating healthy growth for both of them. All throughout creation God speaks!
Community of Christ upholds sacredness of creation as an enduring principle. What does sacredness of creation mean? How does it impact my discipleship? How do we live this principle out with the choices we make in a world driven by consumerism? What does it actually mean to hold to this ideal? Let's explore this idea a little more.
Sacredness of Creation Defined
Sacredness of creation is highlighted in five parts of this principle.
1. In the beginning, God created and called it good - Nature holds the spirit of God within it. Upholding all of creation as good and sacred helps us understand everything is spiritual. It's not just about us but about everything around us.
2. Spirit and material, seen and unseen, are related - Everything is intertwined together. Creation is a divinely interconnected web throughout the world. How it works is a beautiful mystery. I like to think of Newton's third law "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." How does this apply, or does it to the interconnectedness of creation?
3. Creations power to create and destroy reminds us of our vulnerability in this life - God is much bigger than what we know and see in our world. The power of creation humbles us to understand and see the world with a wider and different viewpoint outside of just our own eyes. Knowing we are vulnerable allows us to be vulnerable to others.
4. God is still creating to fulfill divine purpose - Through creation, God is continuing to be actively involved. How awesome is it to think about God continuing to bring about divine purpose in our lives by creating?
5. We join with God as stewards of care and hope for all creation - We have a responsibility to take care of this world and the environment around us. Creation is a gift which should be honored and upheld. As stewards over this creation we work with the divine in continuing to bring hope for future inhabitants.
The Beauty of Creation
Look outside, really look! Look at the trees, the sky, the birds, the grass. Take in the integral parts of our world that we so often take for granted. Creation is beautiful. This video produced by Lake Cities Community Church brings incredible views of creation together with scripture. Take time to watch the short video to remember the greatness around us in this world and what your role is to make it continue.
Living Sacredness of Creation
What does it mean to live this principle in our discipleship? Should being good stewards of the earth be a part of Christianity? Ecotheology is a theology focused on the relationship between Christian faith and the environment. It connects our response as individuals to ecological crises to our discipleship. An article by the Student Christian Movement titled "Loving the earth means being good stewards of creation" discusses the connection between love and stewardship of the environment.
It seems there is much thought given to how upholding creation in our daily lives can become acts of connecting and following the divine. The blog No-Fuss Healthy Living discusses this very idea with "3 Ways to Exercise Creation Stewardship from a Gospel Perspective." It also provides some simple ways to get started at the bottom of it. You can also check out this article by Devon Baynes titled "Being Good Environmental Stewards No Matter Where You Live" which discusses the importance of doing what you can for the environment.
We have a responsibility to take action and respond to the things in this world that create injustice with creation. I encourage you to google or youtube ways in which products are hurting the environment. I will never forget a video I watched of scientists pulling a straw out of a sea turtles nose. Simple things we do make a difference to the sacredness around us. What will you do about it?
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Please follow us on instagram or twitter if you haven't already.
This week do something good for the environment. Plant some flowers, make a garden, or just celebrate life in the creation around you.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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