Tag Archives: Christian

SERMON: Love God with All Your Heart

This sermon was given by John Dernbach at the Church of the Nativity & St. Stephen in Newport, PA on April 17, 2016.  It is reprinted here with permission.

john-c-dernbach[1]          Good morning.  I have known your rector, Rebecca Myers, for many years.  She has honored me, with her invitation to speak today, in ways I cannot express.

This coming Friday is Earth Day.  Every year since 1970, people in the U.S. and around the world have set aside April 22 to celebrate our environment, to learn about it, and to discuss how to protect and restore it.

I am going to respond to your Rector’s invitation by venturing an answer to a question that has concerned me for my entire adult life–What does our faith have to do with the environment?   This is a huge question, and one the churches have not—until recently—done a particularly effective job in answering.

I am from St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Harrisburg.  About fifteen years ago, at Stephen’s, we were planning to convert an old parking garage—one that used an elevator to move cars to Continue reading

Sermon: The Passing of New Things

The Rev. Alison Cornish delivered this sermon, entitled The Passing of First Things, on April 24, 2016, at PA IPL member congregation Tabernacle United Church in Philadelphia.

Good morning, and thank you so very much for the invitation to be with you here this morning.  Having an opportunity to participate in worship of many different faith communities is one of delights I cherish as Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light.

Vincent Van Gogh Ravine

I sincerely doubt that the common lectionary that lays out the cycle of scripture readings for so many Christian communities intentionally aligns itself with the relatively new, and entirely secular, holiday of Earth Day – officially 3 days ago – but what a gift they have given us this morning!  First, those beautiful images from Psalm 148 that Susan read earlier – words, in fact, that are the basis of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun – words that one author describes as ‘a symbiosis of praise involving humans and nature.’  And then, the vision from Revelation of a new earth, a new creation, of almost Edenic quality, coming to pass at the end times.  I’ll dig deeper into each of these in a few moments, but for now, let us savor these images, connecting perhaps to moments in our own lives when the qualities of our environs have elevated us, inspired us, nurtured Continue reading

Sermon: When Do We Get Our New Heavens and Our New Earth

ballenger_photoPA IPL Board Member Barbara Ballenger gave this homily on Earth Day Sunday, April 24, 2016, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia (where she is on staff).  Reprinted here with permission.  NOTE: St. Martin’s follows the Revised Common Lectionary, a 3-year cycle of scripture readings.  The readings for this day were Acts 11:1-18; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35.  

So I have a question. When do we get our new Heaven and new Earth? This set is wearing out, and it seems like it’s about time for God to deliver on those promises that God made in our second reading from the book of Revelation (Revelation 21:1-6).
I don’t want to rain on your Earth Day weekend but:

480887_10152743155550105_643811093_nWe have 84 years to get this right – that’s roughly my mother’s current lifetime. And in the meantime we have fires, floods, famines, droughts and mass species extinctions to worry about.
So by the time my daughter is her grandmother’s age, she Continue reading

Upcoming Event HIGHLIGHTS

Because our Events listing draws directly (and chronologically) from our events calendar, there are a few upcoming items that you’ll want to see coming,  mark your own calendar, and share.  You will want to know about:

One of the wonderful Interfaith Moral Climate Advocacy workshops, headlined by Justin Wright of Active Neutrals, and in partnership with PennFuture will be held on Presidents’ Day, February 15.  REGISTRATION is open now, FLIERS are available.  Click to learn more and sign up.  Co-sponsored by PA IPL, the Eco-Justice Ministries of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and the Creation Care Task Force of the NE PA Synod (Lutherans).

WORLD WIDE: Earth Hour  Saturday, March 19

——RELIGIOUS CALENDARS: Tu b’Shevat and Lent, with resources anyone can use——

Tu B’Shevat (the “Jewish new year of the trees”) begins January 24 at sundown (the 15th day of Shevat).  Join all-are-welcome celebrations in BRYN MAWR  or GERMANTOWN 1/24. Find resources generously shared by COEJL and the Shalom Center to explore more on your own.  Your RSVP is important to our planning for both of the celebrations linked above.

On the Christian calendar, Lent  begins with Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 10 this year.  It is a time of preparation, reflection and, for many, fasting, so it’s a great time to think about a CARBON FAST or a Lenten text study linked to climate change.  The Ecumenical Carbon Fast designed by the New England Regional Environmental Ministries is excellent, and we see no need to re-invent the wheel!  Anyone may sign up now for 2016 once-a-day Lenten emails.  To get a glimpse at what you’ll be getting, browse the 2015 resources.  Each week has a biblically-linked theme and includes actions to take, both as an individual and with a congregation.   If you are a Christian pastor in a congregation that follows the Common Lectionary, you may find this lectionary-based weekly sermon reflections on the lessons useful, whether you choose to use them during Lent or periodically throughout the year.

People of other faiths may wish to sign up for the Lenten emails (or browse the 2015 materials) in order to mine them for inspiration in connection with periods of fasting and reflection in your own tradition.  Would you like to use the inspiration to craft tailored resources drawing on your own scriptures and traditions?  We’d love to make sure the effort is well-spent by sharing it far and wide.  We’ll even help!

Praying with Paris — in Philadelphia and Harrisburg

The Paris climate talks (the 21st such talks) began on Monday, November 30.  People around the world held vigils and marches on 11/29 and 11/30 to show our leaders that we are with them in spirit, supporting the difficult, urgent, vital work that they are engaged in.  The people’s voices —including faith voices— have been vital in getting international leaders as far along as we are.

Check back here for a one-a-day series of actions and solutions from now until 12/11.

HarrisburgVigilMarch.11.29.2015In HARRISBURG, a multi-faith service hosted by Grace United Methodist Church was attended by about 120 people, and  made the evening news.  News coverage embedded at the bottom of this page (these links can expire quickly!)

Inspiring speakers included  Professor John Dernbach  (himself a Paris Summit delegate) and former PA Senator Franklin Kury (the author of Article1, Section 27 of our PA Constitution, and the recipient of our first PA IPL Visionary Award, back in 2011).   Father Jim Podlesny talked about the significance of the Pope’s encyclical and what it means for Paris.

 David Glasgow, music director of Unitarian Universalists of Cumberland Valley, provided opening music, with congregational singing of  We Would be One, This is My Song, and Blue Boat Home.    Harrisburg Drummers added color and energy.

Readings and reflections were offered by leaders from the Religion & Society Center, Baha’ís of Harrisburg, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of PA, Hadee Mosque, and PA IPL. 

The event concluded on the Capitol steps with a rousing speech by former pastor and climate activist, the Rev. Jerry Miller, along with other testimonies, more drumming, and singing of Let There Be Peace on Earth.

IMG_5098In PHILADELPHIA , PA IPL member congregation First United Methodist Church of Germantown  hosted an afternoon multi-faith vigil on Monday, 11/30.  The vigil and prayer was led by Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein, the Rev. Cheryl Pyrch, and song led by Daniella Forstater.  Participants from many local congregations, including the Sisters of St Joseph, the Germantown Jewish Centre, P’nai Or, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Unitarian Society of Germantown, host FUMCOGSt. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, the Shalom CenterSummit Presbyterian Church, and Good Samaritan Baptist Church and more!

Because of the attacks in Paris last week, planned marches and outdoor gatherings were not allowed, so the Place de la Republique filled with 10,000 pairs of shoes, “marching” without their owners.  Among them: Pope Francis’ shoes, and Ban Ki Moon’s shoes.

Nearly 10,000 people linked arms to form a human chain through Paris, stretched out along about 2km of the 3 km (2 mile) route of the planned march, rather than gathered in one spot.

Religious leaders delivered a multi-faith petition signed by nearly 1.8 million yesterday, and Cristina Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, broke out into a dance with Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of South Africa, who was among those delivering the signatures to the talks.

HARRISBURG Fox43 coverage:

Creation Crisis Preaching

This event is created and sponsored by our friends at the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Pennsylvania (LAMPa).

Join the LAMPa Creation Justice Team for a conference call with
the Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade
September 30, 
12 noon – 1:00 PM


 Dr. Schade is pastor of United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg, PA and Adjunct Instructor in Philosophy at Lebanon Valley College. On this call Dr. Schade will share the themes and challenges raised in her new book “Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit“, about preaching that names and acts on the integrity of God’s creation. She works with the premise that all of Creation, including humankind, needs to hear the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection in this age in which humanity is “crucifying” Creation.


Listen to a stunning SoundCloud excerpt created by Peterson Toscano from his interview with Rev. Schade on Climate Stew.  Are you a pastor in a hurry?  Jump ahead to 1:50

Order the book!
(PA IPL folks can look for Cricket Hunter’s review in the first pages of the book, alongside Bill McKibben’s.)