Earth Day, 50 years: A Liturgy – April 20, 2020

Earth Day – April 20, 2020 – Central PA


Song – “Todo Cambia,” Merdeces Sosa



Greetings everyone. I greet you from the land of the indigenous people: Delaware, Susquehannock, Shawnee, and Iroquois. Blessed be them! Their land was stolen and taken away.


I would never imagine that I would preach from a backyard for James Chapel one day. I love James Chapel a very special place, a place where I have been visited by God so many times. But today we are here living under the Pandemic and many of us in our homes. We pray for those who have to go out and work so we can stay home. My wife is an Occupational Therapist and she goes visits the people who are struggling with their illness and every day we are anxious but also happy she is serving a population so much abandoned.


Today we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day the planet’s largest civic event and it has helped change many things. In US for instance, it led to passage of landmark environmental laws for the Clean Air, Clear Water and Endangered Species Acts. Many countries soon adopted similar laws, and in 2016, United Nations chose Earth Day as the day to sign the Paris climate agreement into force. This year the theme if climate change. If you are not thinking, praying, wondering or engaging in climate change, I don’t where you are living since we will all going to burn very soon!


So during this short time we will sing pray and hear some words. You can all participate with your questions and comments during this time through zoom or facebook. My wife and my daughter are going to select some for us to talk at the end. So you are welcome to stay at the end or leave anytime. This is alive so let us see how it goes.


You can send comments, questions, challenges as you wish. But only the ones done in kindness will be accepted. This is not a place for attack.



If you can bring a plant to be near you


If you have an apple eat with us this will be our shared meal. We will eat apples, then get the seeds and plant it. We know that this is not how we actually do it but we will do it here to show the reciprocity between us and the earth.


Let me introduce the plants present here, my wife, my kids, and my dog.




Let us start remembering those who are sick, those who lost beloved ones, those in pain.

The social situation around the world is getting worse and in some places desperate. 22 million people unemployed in US, 9.2 million workers likely lost their health insurance, just to to add to those who didn’t have health insurance before.


In Africa the situation is so difficult. In Uganda, due to the restrictions of circulation imposed by coronavirus, a 39-year-old woman died in labor when she tried to walk to the hospital.


Indigenous communities are being massively killed y the virus. The Navajo Nation Has Lost More Lives to COVID-19 Than 13 States Combined. Indigenous people in the amazon…


Capitalism in its neoliberalism form, has turn the economy so informal that most workers have no protection or access to health care. Street vendors are suffering. Hunger is one of the most dangerous threats to the poor during the pandemic.


On top of it, the earth is being attacked. China has lower the environment protection during the pandemic. Brazil is destroying the Amazon forest and all of the indigenous people are being attack from left and right. The same thing in US with this administration weakening several regulations on environmental protection. Last week the government weakened the control of mercury and other toxic metals from oil and coal-fired power plants, another step toward rolling back health protections in the middle of a pandemic. I just read this week about the disappearance of insects everywhere and the depletion of the earth’s eco-diversity.


We are dying in so many ways.  How do we pray when so much of what we know is dying? So we will keep few minutes in silence praying for those unemployed, for those without health insurance, for those going hungry and for the destruction of the earth.


In silence we pray.


SONG – Bob Dylan’s song – License to Kill



Man thinks ’cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please

And if things don’t change soon, he will.

Oh, man has invented his doom,

First step was touching the moon.


Now, there’s a woman   on my block,

She just sit there as the night grows still.

She say who gonna take away his license to kill?


Now, they take him and they teach him and they groom him for life

And they set him on a path where he’s bound to get ill,

Then they bury him with stars,

Sell his body like they do used cars.


Now, there’s a woman on my block,

She just sit there facin’ the hill.

She say who gonna take away his license to kill?


Now, he’s hell-bent for destruction, he’s afraid and confused,

And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill.

All he believes are his eyes

And his eyes, they just tell him lies.


But there’s a woman on my block,

Sitting there in a cold chill.

She say who gonna take away his license to kill?


Ya may be a noisemaker, spirit maker,

Heartbreaker, backbreaker,

Leave no stone unturned.

May be an actor in a plot,

That might be all that you got

‘Til your error you clearly learn.


Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool

And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled.

Oh, man is opposed to fair play,

He wants it all and he wants it his way.


Now, there’s a woman on my block,

She just sit there as the night grows still.

She say who gonna take away his license to kill?




What a time we are living in now. So much uncertainty, so much absurd, so much evil, so much new stuff coming out, a proliferation of everything. Who can cope with that? And ahh, so much stupidity too


White folks protesting against the lockdown. They say something like: “This is a tyrant totalitarian hegemony forcing us to stay home! We are here for the right and liberty to get COVID19 and die!” And some would even say: Jesus is my virus and he will protect me!


How can we even explain that?


Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who saw during Nazism what we are seeing now, writes in his work “After Ten Years” about human stupidity. He says:


“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force.”


“Against stupidity we are defenseless; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed, and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one.”


“The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he speaks on behalf of an empowered group. In conversation with him, one feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans and catchwords that have taken possession of him.”


“The stupid man is under a spell…[And] having become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil.”


But stupidity often goes along with malice and evil, greed and anger. If under the mantle of law it becomes frightening.  Like when we hear Texas Governor Dan Patrick praising economic restart, and saying ‘there are more important things than living.’

What do we do?


In the name of an invisible “enemy” we close the borders and we attack the visible ones: immigrants, indigenous, blacks, Asians, people in jail, the poor, the earth. In the name of safety, protection, health, progress and development, totalitarian governments go against the most vulnerable.


So I’d say we have two ways to respond to this time, surely one not be necessarily opposed to the other.


One way of responding to this time is to say that it feels that we are living at the end of times, under the attack of the ‘Four Horsemen’ – Neoliberal Economy, State Collapse, Climate Calamity and Pandemics. They are all intertwined. What is your list?


The Four Horsemen have been with us for a while. Their names were: coloniality, religion, modernity and civilization. Ask the indigenous people, Africans and African Americans about the 500 years of the four horsemen riding on their backs. The difference now is that we are all feeling the weight of their horses feet on our backs, our necks and our heads. We are being crushed. In this way, COVID19 can be, as Bruno Latour said: a dress rehearsal for something much worse, way more unpredictable, even more deadly that is coming.


However, the other way to respond to this time is to see the COVID19 as a messenger, as the earth speaking to us: we are all ill. The lungs of the planet as well as our lungs are going under severe chronic respiratory stress. And unless we work together, the earth and ourselves  to defend our whole selves from these planetary infections we are all going to perish. Let me read

An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans (by Kristin Flyntz)


Stop. Just stop.

It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.

We will help you.

We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt

We will stop

the planes

the trains

the schools

the malls

the meetings

the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our

single and shared beating heart,

the way we breathe together, in unison.


Our obligation is to each other,

As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.

We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,

to bring you this long-breaking news:

We are not well.


None of us; all of us are suffering.

Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth

did not give you pause.


Nor the typhoons in Africa, China, Japan.

Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.

You have not been listening.


It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.

But the foundation is giving way,

buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.


We will help you.

We will bring the firestorms to your body

We will bring the fever to your body

We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs

that you might hear:

We are not well.


Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.

We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.

We are asking you:

To stop, to be still, to listen;


To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;

To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;


To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?


To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?


To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?


Many are afraid now.

Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,

listen for its wisdom.


What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?


As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?



Notice if you are resisting.

Notice what you are resisting.

Ask why.

Stop. Just stop.


Be still.



Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.

We will help you, if you listen.


May the corona virus can prepare us for a new life! For resurrection!

Perhaps if we learn with this time that we are all responsible for each other and that the earth is our kin, we can move things around. One Biblical person we come to my mind that can help us cope with this time is Jacob. Jacob messed up really bad. He stole the blessing from his brother and had to run. He paid a big price at the valley of the Jabok.  He had to go back to himself and fight with God. Until he knew himself and himself in relation to his God. Also, Jacob had to make peace with his brother. When they meet Jacob is peeing in his pants! He is so afraid he organizes the children and the women in front groups so perhaps, his brother would have mercy on them. After they meet and hug and kiss, Jacob, still afraid, decides to go in a very slow pace. He says to Esau:


‘My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; and if they are overdriven for one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.’


I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children.


Ahh isn’t this time a call into this double bind movement: go through our own valley of Jabok so we learn not to be afraid to be with ourselves and then be able to walk slowly, in the pace of the cattle and the children?


So I’s say: yes be afraid, go deep into your fear. Ask for help. Listen to what your soul is telling you. Tell yourself: I hear you. You are not alone. Look, we have ourselves, we have some friends and family, we have the solidarity of a few, we have our breathe, and we have the earth. We will survive. So, go fight with the angel of life and death and come out of this pandemics limping. Having blessed someone, having given sustenance to somebody, having prayed for somebody and being a blessing to somebody.


If we all do that, if we are able to tell our anxious selves we will be fine, then we will be ready to come out and not run again. Instead of creating means of production, we will create production of means to help each other. We won’t run anymore. We will add idle time, time to do absolutely nothing but just gaze and be. We will finally be able to walk in the pace of the cattle, the children and then earth.


Do you think you can do that?

Maybe we will learn how to listen to the earth. That is my major goal in life now: to learn how to listen to the earth.


So here is my prayer to the earth:

Dear Earth, Gaia, Pachamama,

You who are and have always been my home, my solace, my ground.

I am made of you and of the stars.

Your water that run in my body runs in your rivers and oceans.

I have grown up because of you. I have eaten what you gave me to eat. I have drank what you gave me to drink.

I am now dressed with cloths that just the other day were a flower in the field.


I must confess I have been estranged from you. I never paid attention to you. I have never talked to plants as if they mattered, I have never listened to the birds as if they were singing my song, I never pay attention to your pace and movements, I never stopped to hear the relation between you, the oceans, the moon and the planets.


How can I teach my kids to care for you if I don’t know how to care?

How can I tell them to listen to you if I don’t even know where to start?


Ahh, I learned that I had to listen to God but God was never in you, fully. So I always went elsewhere. For God was always elsewhere. Only partially in you. And now I can’t hear neither God nor you.


I learned that I had to go to therapy to listen to my voice which was truly amazing and important but I never imagined that I could listen to the mountains, the zebras, the worms, the butterflies, the trees, the bluebirds, the bees, the sunflowers and the squirrels as if I was also listening to myself.


How do I learn to hear the undercurrent of waters within you?

How can I see the rivers that run above me between the trees?

How can I learn to hear your desires and your hopes?

How can I learn to mend and restore where you are hurting?

How can I make you be a fundamental voice to the constitution of myself but also of the constitution of every nation?


I must confess that I have lived as if you almost didn’t exist, as if you were there just to give me everything and my job was to develop, grow, expand, conquer, dominate. But now that you intruded our ways oif being, we cannot not perceive you anymore.


So I want to have a heart that is near yours. I want to have a heart that can hear your heartbeat as the heartbeat of the body of God. I pray I learn to see the Holy Spirit in the quaternity of the air, earth, wind and fire! May I learn that everything is in you and my work is to wonder. May the brilliance of the starts, the worlds and universes without ends make me wonder and go like wooow! Ahhhhh! Wow! My goodness! Look at that, listen to it! Every day.


So please help me listen to you. Teach me about you and your ways. I want to live and die with you. For as the Scriptures say: From the dust we come and to dust we shall return. May my own dust be worthy of your ongoing gift of life and care. May who I am be a gift of reciprocity to you. May the work of my hands be of ongoing restoration and regeneration.


May your wilderness be protected and I become a shield.

May your fields be so diverse that all the pollinators can come and go and flourish the whole earth.

May the oceans be resurrected and the fish live in peace.

May the trees live as long as they can.

May all of the extinguished species be honored and remembered.

May the birds never go without singing.

And may I learn their songs so I can sing to you their songs, my songs, our songs.


May I learn to listen to you as I learn to listen to God.

May I learn to listen to you as I learn to listen to my kids.

May I learn to listen to you as I learn to listen to myself.

May I learn to listen to you as I learn to listen to you.




Planting the seeds.



Evening Song


And now guide me through the stars

Guide through the night

Wake me up with a morning shine




In the earth we have everything we have


May we breathe in and out when we are anxious.

May we talk to a plant when we are lonely.

May we sit near a river when we are lost.

May we hold on to a rock when we need grounding.

May we listen to the birds when we have lost our songs.

May we look to the clouds when we need to wonder.

May the touch the earth every time we are fearful.