Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Let Us Now Pause for a Moment of Science

Let Us Now Pause for a Moment of Science

Welcome to our worship here at the Church of Marine Mammals. I am the Rev. Ursus Maritimus, Rev. Sea Bear.  Let us pause….

Many of you below the Arctic Circle know me as Rev. Polar Bear.  I’ve heard that you think I am cute, but I hope you also want to know as much science about me as you can, so that’s why I am telling you my scientific name, Ursus Maritimus.  I am a bear who loves the sea.  Let us pause….

Scientists call us all “marine” mammals because we spend most of our time at sea and get most of our food from the sea.   I am honored to lead this congregation of seals and sea lions and otters and walruses and dolphins and manatees and whales – we are a diverse group!  God clearly loves diversity, so much diversity in God’s creation, and yet so much unity.  Let us pause….

We gather today to pause, and to pray, not in SILENCE (although that’s a good thing) but in SCIENCE.  Whenever we pray we say at least five things:

-THANKS! Thanks for all the Science Marches last week, even above the Arctic Circle!  I saw lots of signs like this one, that’s me on the sign!  Science has told the world how vulnerable and threatened we sea bears are, and helped stop the widespread hunting of us that almost wiped us out last century.  Science advised the Nixon administration to pass the Marine Mammal Protection Act and help us.  Thanks!
-HELP!  But now we pray asking for more scientific help because climate change is melting our home, the ice shelf.  We have to swim farther for food, we can’t find ice in which to build maternity dens for our babies, we are having fewer babies, and more are dying.  Our population is threatened, less than 20,000 of us.  That blue I’m sitting on is the lapping melted water where my home used to be.  Help!
-I’M SORRY!  Some of you said you saw another polar bear sign on the marches. It simply read, “First they came for the polar bears….”  I’ve heard people say, “Polar bears seem so far away.  What difference does their plight make for me?”  But if climate change came first to the polar bears, now it’s coming for all those land mammals down south.  Then it will come for the people, and there may be no one left to help.  We all need to say, “I’m sorry I thought we could live on our own, that we are someone not connected to all life.”
-WOW!  That’s a great prayer, Wow!  Wow, that millions marched for science.  Wow, that some parts of the Artic have been set aside as sanctuaries (love that word!)  Wow, that when scientists spoke at the marches, everyone cheered!  Wow, at all the other cool signs, like “Got Plague?  Me neither, thank a scientist!”  Wow!
-HOW LONG, O LORD?  That’s a lament prayer.  Sometimes in marine mammal prayers we say, “This sucks!”  How long will we watch our babies die, our homes melt, our plight ignored, our image on Coke bottles but not in people’s hearts?  How long?

Our Church of Marine Mammals is not a silent lot, nor a glum lot!  We roar and squeak and click and blow and sing!  We pause for science, not for silence.  And we ask you all to pray with us, in thanks, help, sorrow, wow and lament.  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.  Still room at our May 9 Resource/Retreat Day for clergy and religious educators on ocean spirituality and stewardship, and this summer for youth group mission trips and adult pilgrimages in Pacific Grove.  I post these “Tide-ings” each Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

March for Science

March for Science

I’m going on a science field trip this coming Saturday.  Not to the seashore or to the Aquarium (although we do welcome 80,000 kids a year free on school science trips, to help build a new generation of ocean stewards.) 

No, my field trip is to San Francisco, to join the March for Science, one of over 500 such marches taking place worldwide April 22. March for Science - San Francisco celebrates public discovery, understanding, and distribution of scientific knowledge as crucial to the freedom, success, health, and safety of life on this planet. We are a nonpartisan group, marching in support of the following goals: Communication, Funding, Policy, Literacy, and Diversity.”

“God gave us brains for a reason and is happy when we use them.”  That’s how I paraphrase II Timothy 1:7 for our Blue Theology groups, to explain why we do citizen science research as part of our ocean stewardship mission trips and why faith and science are not mutually exclusive.  “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but one of power and love and of a sound mind.”  Or as they say in 12-step meetings, “We can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for God gave us a brain to use.” 

If life is a journey, then every day is a science field trip.  We would be wise to use those God given “sound minds” to help ourselves and others.

My pic this week is the fantastic teacher Ms. Frizzle, star of the Magic School Bus series of books, TV shows and video games that have inspired several generations of kids to be scientists.  I loved reading my kids the Magic School Bus books about science trips inside the body and under the sea and out into space. Illustrator Bruce Degen drew this new pic to support the Science Marches.  (Love the test tube earrings!)

I wish I were in Paris so I could go to their “marche citoyenne pour les sciences, contre l'obscurantisme!”  But SF will do fine.  Thanks Jeff Spencer for organizing a group of “People of Faith for Science.”  We’re meeting at Justin Hermann Plaza at 10:45 – join us, or go to a march in your city.  Or watch the big one in Washington DC – it’s being streamed live.

Like all field trips, it will be an adventure.   I will learn new things and meet new people, and I will come home “another way,” changed.  That’s how the wise men came home from visiting Jesus, “another way,” changed.  Magi means scientist, and they certainly returned from their field trip changed.   

“Science not silence.”  I doubt the magi were silent on their return.   Science saves lives, connects us and is our only hope (besides changed hearts) for stopping climate chaos.  Banning science from laws, policies, or education is not using our God given brains. 

I’ll write next week about my experience.  I hope to see some cool funny protest signs like the ones at the Women’s Marches.  I might go to the sign making workshop here in Monterey this week for our local march.  They have suggested slogans, and my fav so far is “What do we want?  Evidenced based science! When do we want it?  After peer review!” 

Please, be a faithful person – use your head.

Blue for our youth mission trips and adult pilgrimages.  I write here and on Facebook every Wednesday.  May 9 is a Retreat/Resource Day for Clergy and Religious Educators in Pacific Grove.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wet Holy Week

Wet Holy Week

And now the weather forecast for this Holy Week - it's going to be a wet one for Jesus.  Water, water everywhere.

Sure, Jerusalem is dry and dusty.  "I thirst!" Jesus cries from the cross.  But Holy Week is liquid.  Here’s a Blue Theology of Holy Week, Jesus' last week as told by water:

Jerusalem's annual rainfall is actually 23 inches, not so different from our "Mediterranean" climate here in California.  When Jesus walks that lonesome valley - it might have been in the rain, a journey not only lonely, but muddy.  Even those good drought resistant plants, like the palms that adorned the street last Sunday, and the olives that shelter him in the garden Thursday night -  water is their life source, as it is ours.

I love the wet intimacy of two special times of washing in this last week - Jesus bathing the disciples' feet on Thursday night, and the women bringing ointment and water to the tomb on Sunday morning.  What well did all that water come from?  Lots of water went into the 100  pounds of spices Joseph of Arimathea sent along to his tomb.  Even the vinegar that is the soldiers' hostile response to Jesus' cry for water - it's all wet.

Jesus eats every day, and it takes gallons of water to make that last wine and bread, not to mention the Passover meal and the figs and pomegranates.  You need 150 gallons of water to make just one loaf of bread.  Even the risen Christ drinks wine with the disciples at Emmaus.  The beach breakfast probably had some drinks along with the (wet) fish.

The thirsty Jesus on the cross - is he recalling the cool wetness of his baptism in the River Jordan?  Does he remember the woman at the well to whom he said, "I am the living water, follow me and you will never thirst again?"

As Jesus' mother stands at the foot of the cross, is she remembering him in the waters of her womb?  Throughout his life Jesus bleeds, sweats, cries - all his body fluids, 75% of his body, like ours, are wet and salty, memories of his, and our heritage in the sea.

We still live in a thirsty time and we are a dry people, thirsting for righteousness as well as a cool glass of water.  Our God also thirsts.  And our God is living water, a deep well that never runs dry.

Come and drink of the holy blue waters of Easter.

Our May 9 Retreat/Resource Blue Theology Day in Pacific Grove for clergy and religious educators includes Bible study of Jesus by the sea, as well as a spiritual tour of the Aquarium, a served sustainable seafood lunch and a service project.  Already 10 sign ups, limit 30.