LENT 2024: All Creation is Groaning
We are living in a rapidly changing environment. As people of faith, we are called not only to respond but respond in ways that embody God's love for all of creation and the resurrection hope we cling to even in the most unsettling times.
The journey outward began with noticing creation. As we notice creation, it becomes clear that climate change, pollution, species loss, and other ecological impacts of our current way of life have already had lasting, devastating effects. Even as we lament the current state of our relationship with the rest of creation, we lean on the basic proclamation: "In hope we are saved."
Westwood has adopted "Environmental Sustainability" as a new core value. During Lent, we will explore how the good news of Jesus speaks to the current ecological moment, asking questions like, "What is distinctive about the church's response?" and "What does our faith have to do with it?"
All creation is groaning...with ears of faith, we listen.
ALL-CHURCH BOOK READ
We encourage the whole church to read this insightful book, "The Planet You Inherit: Letters to My Grandchildren When Uncertainty's a Sure Thing" by Larry Rasmussen. An all-church read will give us a common language and stories to connect.
The revered Lutheran environmental ethicist author writes letters to his young grandchildren about the world they are inheriting. Buy it now or get a copy from the Westwood Library (including e-copies). The author, Larry Rasmussen, will be with us two Sundays in Lent (via Zoom) and again in April to do a book talk.
CREATION CARE CALENDAR
By engaging this as a Lenten discipline, we'll develop new habits and proclaim our faith in the words from Jeremiah 29:11, "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Below are resources to Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy, the City of St. Louis Park, and Electrify Everything Minnesota. Many of the energy companies, cities, and the state have offered new and improved rebates for 2024 and beyond.
For local residents, the City of St. Louis Park Sustainability webpage is a resource and covers FAQs.
Xcel Energy provides residential tips for saving energy and available rebates.
CenterPoint Energy provides efficiency programs and rebates for Minnesota.
Make your home climate-friendly and more comfortable through electrification.
If you’re not sure where to get started, visit Electrify Everything Minnesota.
WEDNESDAY EVENING WORSHIP
Join Westwood's mid-week Lenten Worship, which will include unique content and community conversations woven into the worship at 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary.
We will focus on the human impact of the environmental crisis, hearing from members of the wider community who will share how they have been affected. Different voices will help us see the more extensive, complex picture. Worship will include an interview-style conversation with a different community member each week.
February 14: Ash Wednesday Worship (Click to watch recording)
February 21: Redeemer Lutheran EcoFaith Team
February 28: Johan Bauermeister, Minneapolis Area Synod's Congregational Organizer for Climate Justice
March 6: Brooke Roper, Hopkins School Board Member, environmentalist, and entrepreneur
March 13: Pastor Hierald Osorto and congregants from San Pablo Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
March 20: The Rev. Jon Anderson, Luther Seminary Director of Rural Ministry
SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP
9 am and 11 am Worship:
As we focus on noticing creation and lament key aspects of the journey outward, sermons, liturgies, and children's messages will bring forth different aspects of Jesus' ministry that apply to environmental sustainability and the following:
February 18: Lent 1 - Telling the Truth
February 25: Lent 2 - Community of Disciples
March 3: Lent 3 - Use of Power
March 10: Lent 4 - God's Love for this World
March 17: Lent 5 - The Hope of the Cross
SUNDAY MORNING WESTWOOD U
Westwood U occurs on Sunday mornings in the Westwood Room at 10 am. Lenten programming will feature in-person speakers on theology, ethics, the Bible, and the environment. The speakers and topics will help us build a theological framework that supports "Environmental Sustainability" as a core value at Westwood.
February 18: Jim Bear Jacobs, "The Birth of Creation" (click to watch recording)
Born in St. Paul, he is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation, an American Indian tribe located in central Wisconsin. He has degrees in Pastoral Studies and Christian Theology and has served various churches as a youth minister, adult Christian educator, and Director of Men's Ministries. He is a cultural facilitator in the Twin Cities and works to raise the public's awareness of American Indian causes and injustices. He is the Director of Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches.
February 25: Larry Rasmussen, A Grander View - Part 1: "The Swaddling Band of Darkness: Describing Reality" (Zoom)
March 3: Larry Rasmussen, A Grander View - Part 2: "Choir the Proper Praise: Lutheran Response to that Reality" (Zoom)
Larry Rasmussen, a renowned Christian environmental ethicist, is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Emeritus, at Union Theological Seminary. He is the author of "Earth-Honoring Faith," winner of the Earth Community and Earth Ethics Nautilus Awards, and winner of the Grawemeyer Award. He has mentored a generation of scholars in eco-theology and green religion, rooted in environmental justice practices within community contexts.
March 10: Kathryn Schifferdecker, "Scripture and Ecology, a brief overview"
Kathryn M. Schifferdecker is a professor of the Old Testament at Luther Seminary. She was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2001; Schifferdecker was also the associate pastor for five years at Trinity Lutheran Church, Arkdale, WI.
Schifferdecker is a frequent contributor to workingpreacher.org, Word & World and the author of "Out of the Whirlwind: Creation Theology in the Book of Job" (Harvard University Press, 2008). She is currently writing a commentary on the book of Esther.
March 17: Heidi Ferris, "Climate Literacy: Parenting and Education for Sustainability"
Heidi Ferris holds a Master's Degree in Environmental Education, is a member of the National Science Teachers Association and the Minnesota Association of Environmental Educators, and is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership at the University of St. Thomas. Heidi gained over a decade of first-hand experience by teaching middle and high-school-level science courses and curriculum writing for classrooms, faith-based groups, and secular non-profits. She started Growing Green Hearts in 2011 to combine her passion for the Earth's interconnected systems with her creative talents in teaching children and educators.
Jim Bear Jacobs
HOLY WEEK & EASTER WORSHIP DATES
March 24: Palm Sunday, 9 am & 11 am
March 28: Maundy Thursday, 7 pm
March 29: Good Friday, 12 pm, 5:30 pm (family), & 7 pm
March 31: Easter Sunday, 8:30 am, 9:45 am, 11 am