Thursday, October 18, 2007

24/7 Conspiracy

Hello, PDX!

New readers, welcome! We've been exploring the Kingdom of God (KoG). To get some perspective on where we are now you'll have to backtrack to previous posts. The 10/14 post asked a few questions related to war and peace issues. Before we remake Jesus in the image and colors of our own battle flags it's always wise to ask hard questions. And, hey, if the church doesn't have anything to say on war/peace issues if wouldn't seem to have credibility on many other life issues either. So here's another one to consider: how we live in God's creation.

For the past year my wife and I have been hanging around a lot with the Imago Dei Community in Portland. This is an amazing (and growing!!!) band of Christ followers who seem to be turning most definitions and abstractions of church upside-down. Amen to that! Last year, Imago Dei and four other faith communities started the Advent Conspiracy. The idea is to buy no commerically made Christmas gifts but to instead give relational gifts (as in doing something with someone) and perhaps small, home-made gifts to friends and loved ones. The money saved by not buying gadgets is instead offered to make the world a seriously different and better place. Such as? A new well to provide clean water for a community, an alpaca to provide a family with income for 20 years, help for needy families and schools in SE Portland. Good stuff that says, "God's gift to the world changes everything."

This year, over 1,000 churches have joined Advent Conspiracy. The "mustard seed" is already growing into a huge shrub. Next year, it will be an incredible tree!

Last Sunday we got to watch video clips of people who have no clean water and who rummage through an awful dump in Guatemala to make a living. Flies, barefoot children, vultures and piles of putrid stuff as far as the eye could see. That's the "before" picture. With help from Advent Conspiracy 2006, a couple of pastors were able to purchase land away from the dump, put in a new well. People have fresh, clean water for the first time in their lives. The day of the well dedication was a picnic and BBQ. Lots of water fights. Showers and shampoo. Wet T-shirts, Slip 'n Slide, kiddie pools. Smiling faces all around. The start of a new life. That's the "after" picture.

All week I've thought about the dump and what must be in the groundwater under it. Some people have been relocated, but others will take their places. How long will the well water last? Will the polluted water in the ground under the dump eventually reach the well? What then?

The dump. Among other things beyond description, the dim video showed one ubiquitious human creation: plastic, plastic, plastic. Poly bags and broken plastic stuff everywhere. Multiply this picture globally. Start with your own trash. How are you adding to the pile? How long can we keep this up?

The Waste Management trucks that serve our area have an interesting placard on both sides. It states, "Our landfills provide over 17,000 acres of wildlife habitat." Gee, what do you suppose those 17K acres were before they were landfills? What's in the groundwater under them? What's going to be there in 100 years? 200 years? Will the water wells dug by last year's Advent Conspiracy soon be used up or polluted like the land under that Guatemalan dump which also was wildlife habitat and human habitat. Once. Now it's inhuman habitat.

How can we give ourselves a way of life that respects and cherishes God's creation as if it really were God's? As if we really thought so? Seems we need a 24/7 conspiracy.

Where to start? How about with a way of life that doesn't use plastic bags, plastic packaging and plastic water bottles? We could do this. Actually we could. Question is, will we? If not now, when? Why not?

The kingdom of God could help. Think alternative contrast society. Think Christmas 365. Talk about it with friends and family. Think 24/7 conspiracy. It could catch on. 24/7.


Pastor Roger

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