The "Glorious Impossible"
This week, Christians and Jews alike will be celebrating the wonder of miracles - and actually it's the first time in decades that Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah coincide. The author Madeline L'Engle called the birth of Jesus the "Glorious Impossible." Historically, Jesus was born during a period of the Roman Empire when oppressive power and taxation were sorely hurting the people, and many were driven off their land. A widening gap was growing between the rich and the poor, and oppression was taking hold. Similarly, roughly two hundred years earlier, the Jewish Macabees were driven to the mountain tops, fleeing from oppression against their beliefs and way of life. Refugees of different eras...how relevant to our world today.
Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem in answer to the Emperor's decree that "all the world should be registered" so that the empire could maintain records of their taxpaying citizens. When they arrived there, all of the housing was already filled with the influx of out-of-towners. They found a sympathetic innkeeper who offered his barn for them to sleep in. Luke 2:7 recounts, "She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." And an angel says that this shall be the sign of a savior?! The famous Rev. Karpen explores this "sign": "Surely that angel must have noticed the irony in that sign: a baby born outside, wrapped in rags, and put into a feeding trough. That's supposed to reassure us? That's a sign to a hope-starved world?" And when the Macabees reclaimed the temple after a 3-year guerrilla war, their holy oil was supposed to be sufficient for only one night, but instead it burned bright for 8 days. In the midst of suffering and destruction, a simple light that didn’t die out would become a sign of hope for generations to come. For Christians, Jesus' birth is a joyful sign of hope for the world, even in the midst of adversity and suffering, even for "such a time as this". We are challenged to live out the ministry that Jesus embodied - serving the poor, the underserved, the disenfranchised, those marginalized by society.
What does all this have to do with our work to be faithful stewards caring for sacred waters? It means, Glorious Impossible comes in ironically humble forms. All of the ways that you protect and preserve the waters of our watershed - even though they may seem unnoticed - are the signs of hope that feed the faithful around you. Your acts may not make the nightly news, or the papers, and you may feel your work has been "relegated to the barn." But, you are enacting the magnificent work that will someday be the glorious impossible.
Caring for our shared waters is humbling, overwhelming, and not for the weak. It is essential so that all may have the right to clean water, in present and future generations. Let us unite across all faiths to continue to work together to someday bring about the glorious impossible.
"Fear not!" says the angel declaring the good news of the glorious impossible to the trembling shepherds:
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Thank you for your support this season, and on Giving Tuesday! Our goal was to raise $5,000 this time of year, and we have already met that goal!
Ace Hardware Petition
Calling all Maryland faithful who want to speak up for voiceless bees! Please sign this letter to Maryland retailers. According to the Smart on Pesticides Coalition, Maryland suffered 61% bee losses in 2014-15 and 56% losses in 2015-16. Bee losses threaten our food supply, which will drive up food costs, impacting the poor first and foremost. Bee losses also reflect a web of life out of balance. What signs will we pay attention to if the silent bee death is not enough to catch our attention? This letter asks Ace Hardware and other Maryland nurseries to stop selling neonic-treated plants and seeds. Scientists say that when seeds and plants are treated, the neonics are expressed in the plants’ nectar, pollen and fruit for months and sometimes years. Yes, that beautiful mum you planted in October may have been labeled as bee-friendly, but may have been produced from a neonic-treated seed, contributing to the demise of our bee population. If labeling does not help consumers make better choices, then please -- we need to get this stuff off the shelves! Thank you to Lowes and Home Depot because they have pledged a timetable to remove these products. Other Maryland stores need to make this change, too.
A FREE training and curriculum for a Vacation Bible School (VBS) or SundaySchool program will be offered to churches in Prince George's County, through a grant provided by Chesapeake Bay Trust and the PG County Department of Environment! Our program offers, for free:
2017 Environmental Legislative Summit
Virginia Conservation Lobby Day
Bills move fast in the Virginia General Assembly! Virginia Conservation Network organizes Conservation Lobby Day to ensure a strong conservation voice is heard early in the legislative session. Volunteer advocates are invited to meet with state legislators and encourage them to support environmental policy advancements. Tickets are $25. Details HERE.Monday, January 23, 2017 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA.
CAMP Offset Grant Application Now Available
The Office of Sustainability is pleased to announce the 2017 Critical Area Management Program (CAMP) Offset Grant application is now available. The City of Baltimore accepts proposals from non-profit organizations wishing to access CAMP Offset monies. This application is released on an annual basis to encourage existing and prospective grantees to come up with exciting ideas for CAMP-funded projects that will improve quality of life and the quality of our waterways in Baltimore. Any community group, non-profit, faith-based organization, or other non-profit institution may apply. The application may be found by clicking HERE.
Gear Up for Planting Trees Next Spring
We still have openings for congregations to participate in the Trees for Sacred Places Program. On a beautiful autumn day, members of Carolina Missionary Baptist Church turned out to plant trees dedicated in honor of loved ones. Pastor Anthony E. Moore (pictured at left) offered a blessing of the tree planting and affirmed the role that people of faith can play in restoring God's Creation:
We are still looking for several congregations, retreat centers or religious schools throughout Maryland, and specifically Prince George's County. The program offers for FREE: professional planting plan, native trees, deer protection, all necessary tools to plant AND environmental and spiritual workshops (tailored to the congregation or religious school's needs) about the importance of planting trees and caring for God's Creation. You can learn more about the program on our webpage HERE.
Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer and In-Kind Needs
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