2nd Sunday in Advent [by Rev. Coleman]

Anglican lectionary:
Catholic lectionary:
1st Reading
Isa 40:1-11
85 :1-2,8-13
2nd Reading
2 Pet 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8
by Rev. David Coleman, Environmental Chaplain, EcoCongregation Scotland
(all pictures by David Coleman)


Isaiah 40:1-11

The prophet conveys the (re-)constructive intent of God, though dependent upon recognition by people that the suffering now experienced is directly related to the choices they made; the damage they have been responsible for. ‘Jerusalem’ is not limited to humans, but includes land, landscape, and associated wildlife as I encounter it here in Scotland. The mountains, the carbon-guzzling wetlands, the deer, the huge grey seals, the endangered wildcats. All flesh, (not just all people) is offered this vision.

I’m wary, therefore, of a ‘bulldozer’ approach to the “wilderness”, which is the realm, full of life, though least shaped by human intent. It’s less about open-cast mining and dynamiting the hills for a ten-lane freeway, than the vision of ensuring inclusive justice, because God’s glory can otherwise never be glimpsed anyway. What are the obstacles to that vision? A brutal desecration of the soul of the land in ways familiar to industrial cultures will raise, rather than remove such obstacles. The role of grass, too, is ambivalent. Our mortality and fragility give the lie to the idolatrous false consciousness behind fantasies of unlimited growth and single-use industrial processes. We are ‘like grass’, and we can’t pretend otherwise. Only God’s Creative Power /Word ‘stands for ever‘. Grass has its day, perhaps feeding animals, before a time of renewal; grass in green patches and wildflower-meadows, keeping city-dwellers sane. Finally, there is the robust guidance and care of a shepherd, rather than a dictator. Any truly royal road, we may pray, will embrace and respect the grass-covered contours of the hills, rather than blast them aside.

Psalm 85 :1-2, 8-13

God is gracious to the land/soil, which includes the people addressed as ‘Jacob/Israel’.

Forgiveness sets people free to deal with the consequences of former crimes. Such opportunities are not lightly given. Note the relatedness – and perhaps the shared identity – of justice, peace, and the Glory of God. They’re in love with each other! The literal rootedness of truth in the Earth, in a dance of hope with justice in the skies, from which come the blessings of sunshine and rain escape the confines of mere metaphor, though English speakers may have to remind themselves that ‘heaven’ is not another dimension, but integral to God’s whole Creation, as well as identical with the sky we daily look up to. The poetry here is essentially many-layered: there are no “only’s”. There is no such thing in this Psalm as ‘mere metaphor’: the experiential rootedness of the whole in our partnership and dependency on the Earth is underlined too by the praise of peace, for Creation is the first casualty in human conflict. And “salvation is very near to those who fear him” where fear is not disabling terror, but the acknowledgement of warnings given in love, be they by the human voice of prophets or the prophetic Voice of the Earth.

2 Peter 3:8-15a

We’re all too ready, having learned to look up to God-who-is-great, to mistake the mere appearance of greatness for divinity. We have no problem that for God ‘a thousand years are like one day’ but skip over that “one day is like a thousand years”, which explosively opens up the responsibilities, dangers and opportunities of every breath we take. Holy impatience, and the determination never to mistake procrastination for wisdom follow from this insight. This passage is part of the huge body of New Testament writings which promote maximum vigilance, engagement and awareness as an appropriate way of life for God’s faithful people, all the more, for those conscious of the “turning of the ages”. With the repeated reminder that the Day of the Lord defies all calculation and preparation, this becomes a spiritual resource for every age of threat and oppression. We do not expect a sudden resolution of the multi-layered environmental crises of our day; we therefore look to build spiritual resilience even as we encounter the effects of what humanity has unleashed upon the planet.

Doing the right thing, irrespective of whether or not we ‘fix the world’ therefore has the value and dignity of prayer.

GOSPEL Mark 1:1-8

The radically ‘new thing’ of the beginning of Good News is nonetheless an instance of divine recycling: in this case, of the prophecy of Isaiah. We are encouraged, therefore, that by the power of the Spirit, scriptures which ring bells of meaning and recognition in our lives will be all the more applicable to our spiritual and environmental contexts. John claims as his pulpit the life-filled ecosystems (wilderness) outside the control of humanity offering an “immersion” in “change-of-mind” for the healing of the damage done by such harmful choices as we freely acknowledge. Jesus will soon after (Mark 1:12) seek out the fellowship of the wildlife and the nurture of the angels (God’s messengers) in this same environment. The wilderness will be the teacher of Christ, and the mentor for his mission. The whole message is totally concrete and contemporary: John’s location, dress, low-impact diet and the recognition that whatever his own contribution, it would not be sufficient to ‘fix’ the world. We also note the wholesale acceptance of everyone who makes the effort to change. Complicity in the violation of Creation is no excuse for involvement in Creation’s protection, nurture and healing.


(Isaiah and Mark)

This is good news: that it is not our perfection, independence, or strength, which enable justice, peace, and the health of the planet. As people gather next November for the COP in Glasgow, God’s work will be far wider than the crucible of the conference hall. Churches will be learning, welcoming, and being liberated from the duty to keep things ‘as they always have been’. To build the inclusive road, we have to break new spiritual ground.

It is rather our limitations and our readiness to confess what we have got wrong – and to seek partnership in healing the resultant harm – that unlocks the best possible outcome following this inevitably declining Age we live in. (This Age of fossil fuels, the age of the dominant lie of endless growth, the age of mountainous and impregnable arguments that in money alone lies salvation.) This Age that is passing away. It is foolish and dangerous to deny it.

It is therefore to the levelling of this gross landscape of exploitative and unjust obstacles that recycled prophetic power shall be applied.

The fragile beauty of Earth’s hills and valleys, each a statement of glory amidst the diverse life of our planet’s ‘wilderness’ ecosystems, can be revered and respected as witness to the healing that must follow.

The landscape through which John drives his bulldozer is the most un-co-operative of all: the landscape of our entrenched attitudes; and certainty – pre-shaken by the ‘gift’ of the pandemic – that salvation resides in shoring up an unsustainable way of life, at cost of all other ‘flesh’ over and above the human.

It’s a sad, despairing, narrow-minded outlook, refusing to write off what cannot be preserved.

The Wilderness itself is co-prophet in John’s fulfilment action: incarnating the Word in the most literally immersively experiential and earthy / earthly way.

Global threat and healing are necessarily inclusive. None is excluded from John’s offer of total immersion in change of mind, that sets the sinner free to live better, and sets God free from vengeance.

By the promised Baptism of Spirit / Breath / Wind, (which, after all, powers the turbines) we find our place and purpose in an urgent and transformative project.

Though forgiveness may be forthcoming, responsibility, and consequences remain. To be paralysed by guilt is to be defeated by sin. To be overwhelmed by the task is to disregard the power and solidarity of God in Christ Jesus. Be happy! Do not worry about tomorrow, but get on with today!

John himself errs in the insignificance of his own contribution. Jesus is later to describe him as the greatest human yet born. Yet John’s exemplary humility empowers us. The smallness of whatever lies within our hands is no cause to neglect it, be this speaking out to others, transforming with justice our own diet, or lifestyle to reduce our impact on planet and the suffering of fellow humans.

We pray therefore for a revelation of the implications of our Baptism, both individually, as with the Communion of Saints, and as part of the Communion of Creation, stakeholders to God’s Rainbow Covenant, recycled and renewed in Christ.

At folk gather in Glasgow next year, we hope to ring bells: not just a call to worship, but an ancient Celtic practice, to drive out evil spirits and call injustice to account before God.


Video Advent Calendar: starts 29th November at www.facebook.com/ecorevscot

A location reading of 2 Peter 3:8-15a on the Pentland Hills in Scotland:

The Lord’s Prayer on the summit of a Scottish Mountain:

One day I said sorry out loud to the Earth (confession and liberation of forgiveness).

(a hymn set to a traditional British tune) (words in the YouTube notes):


by Rev David Coleman, Scotland

1st Sunday in Advent [English / Portuguese by Bishop Francisco de Assis da Silva]

Anglican lectionary:
Catholic lectionary:
1st Reading
Isa 64: 1-9
2nd Reading
1Cor 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37
by Diocesan Bishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, South Western Diocese, Brazil
Bispo Francisco de Assis da Silva, bispo diocesano, Diocese Sul Ocidental, Brasil
(Versão Portuguesa see below the English text)

Green Lectures
An Homily for the First Sunday in Advent

Watch! The Lord of the House is returning!

This Sunday’s Gospel speaks to us of the most insistent word we use in Advent season.  Watch. In the intricacies of the Portuguese language, we can see that it lends itself to several senses. It can mean taking care, being ready, being attentive, or even being sleepless. I intend to explore in this simple message the character of attention to the sad and worrying signs of our time.

In these pandemic times, we have seen events that concern us and that have affected all aspects of our lives. A virtually invisible virus has brought the world to its knees, radically affecting lifestyles, the economy and politics. In its ballast, in addition to deaths and a lot of pain, it is generating more poverty, more inequality and a lot of emotional illness.

Before it, we have seen different ways of relating to it. I would like to highlight at least three of the different ways that worries me a lot:

  1. The deniers seem not to accept what science has said and prefer the option about conspiracy theories that justify or calm their fears or even the acceptance of their weaknesses.
  2. Negotiators seek to sacrifice as little as possible of their inevitable losses in a bargain that does not offer an authentic outlet for a new era.
  3. The constant profiteers, who take advantage of this crisis to expand their advantages, including counting on the fragility of their contemporaries. It is interesting to note that, even within the Church, we find representatives of these ways of dealing with this situation.

We have no doubt that, the environment has been intentionally neglected by all these segments of people. The denialists build conspiracy theories to legitimize the continuity of their speeches and policies that are harmful to the environment and usually accuse anyone who stands against their policies as leftists, communists who try to destroy Capitalism. Negotiators try to resolve the crisis by pouring all their energy into political and economic reforms that further reduce the rights and guarantees of the most fragile people, increasing poverty and expanding gains for the most privileged classes. In addition, cynically, they throw into the uncertain tomorrow, the hope of correcting these directions by “The Market God” and his invisible hand. In addition, the profiteers are those who, like Brazil, take advantage of the pandemic to approve measures that intentionally expand the aggression to the environment, expand their businesses, and destroy our forests, our biomes and threaten the lives of native peoples.

It is here that it is necessary to rescue the speech of the prophet Isaiah. The God who reveals himself in today’s lesson is a zealous God who works for his real worshipers. A God who does not abandon the work of his hands. And who are these real worshipers? They are the people who practice justice and who remember Him in their ways. (V 5) It is practically a repetition of what his practically contemporary Micah wrote. A call for a new era, a restoration order. Restoration of all things more or less the same way a potter breaks the pot and does it again. (v.8)

It is for this new order that Jesus, in Mark, calls his disciples to be attentive, vigilant. The glory of the Son of Man must be desired, and made concrete in our life and in the life of the world. Only this glory is not limited to Kronos. Nobody sees or interprets inside Kronos. There is no time to reflect on time under the Kronos archetype. He is fast, fugacious. The real vigil takes place in Kairos, the time of God, about which no one knows, not even the angels. The time of God, is the Kairos, which is the time of opportunity (v.32).

A beautiful perspective of the text in Marcos is the idea of ​​House. The owner of the house hands over the management of this house to his servants, but does not tell when he will return. He left his home, left everyone’s responsibilities well defined and went on a trip. You will come back by surprise and hope that everyone is ready and aware to present his or her completed tasks. We are inexcusable because the owner of the House left our responsibility well explained a tutorial that can be understood in any language!

The Church it is call to take care of the House. This puts it on a collision line against useless servants. Against those who use the gifts of God’s wonderful Creation in favor of their petty interests. We are call to have the courage and resilience of prophetism. We are call to read between the lines of an abusive, consumeristic and elitist process that point to the destruction of poor people and the beauty of our common House. Let us therefore ask God, as the Psalmist:

O God, convert us from heavenly hosts;
make your face shine and we will have salvation! (Ps 80,3)
Or, in other words: Maranata! Come Lord Jesus!

Vigiai! O Senhor da Casa está voltando!

O Evangelho deste Domingo nos fala da palavra mais insistente que usamos neste tempo de Advento que se inicia. Vigiar. Nos meandros da língua portuguesa podemos perceber que ela se presta a vários sentidos.  Ele pode significar cuidar, estar pronto, estar atento, ou até mesmo estar insone. Pretendo explorar nesta simplória mensagem o caráter da atenção aos tristes e preocupantes sinais do nosso tempo.

Nestes tempos de pandemia, temos assistido eventos que nos preocupam e que tem afetado todas as esferas da nossa vida. Um vírus praticamente invisível colocou o mundo de joelhos, afetando radicalmente modos de vida, a economia e a política. No seu lastro, além de mortes e muita dor, está gerando  mais pobreza, mais desigualdade e muita doença emocional.

Diante dela temos visto distintos modos de se relacionar com ela. Gostaria de destacar pelo menos três que me preocupam sobremaneira: 1. Os negacionistas parecem não aceitar o que a ciência tem dito e preferem embarcar em teorias da conspiração que justifiquem ou acalmem os seus medos ou mesmo a aceitação de suas fragilidades. 2. Os negociadores buscam sacrificar o mínimo possível de suas inevitáveis perdas numa barganha que não oferece uma autêntica saída para um novo tempo. 3. Os aproveitadores contumazes, que aproveitam esta crise para ampliar suas vantagens, inclusive contando com a fragilidade de seus contemporâneos. Interessante notar que, mesmo dentro da Igreja, encontramos representantes destes modos de lidar com a esta situação.

Não temos dúvida de que o meio ambiente tem sido descuidado intencionalmente por todos estes segmentos de pessoas. Os negacionistas constroem teorias da conspiração para legitimar a continuidade de seus discursos e políticas lesivas ao meio ambiente e costumam acusar quem se coloca contra suas políticas como esquerdistas, comunistas que intentam destruir o Capitalismo. Os negociadores tentam solucionar a crise jogando toda sua energia em reformas políticas e econômicas que reduzam ainda mais direitos e garantias das pessoas mais frágeis, aumentando a pobreza e ampliando ganhos das classes mais privilegiadas. E, cinicamente, jogam para o amanhã incerto, a esperança de correção desses rumos pelo Deus Mercado e sua mão invisível. E os aproveitadores são os que, a exemplo do Brasil, aproveitam a pandemia para aprovar medidas que expandem dolosamente a agressão ao meio ambiente, expandem seus negócios e destroem nossas florestas, nossos biomas e ameaçam a vida de povos originários.

É aqui que cabe resgatar a fala do profeta Isaías. O Deus que se revela na passagem de hoje é um Deus zeloso, que opera em favor de seus reais adoradores. Um Deus que não abandona a obra das suas mãos. E quem são estes reais adoradores? São as pessoas que praticam a justiça e que lembram d`Ele nos seus caminhos.(v 5) É praticamente uma repetição do que escreveu seu praticamente contemporâneo Miquéias. Um chamado para um novo tempo, uma ordem de restauração. Restauração de todas as coisas, mais ou menos do jeito como o oleiro quebra o vaso e o faz de novo. (v.8)

É para essa nova ordem que Jesus, em Marcos, chama seus discípulos e discípulas estarem atentos, vigilantes. A glória do Filho do Homem precisa ser desejada e tornada concreta em nossa vida e na vida do mundo. Só que ela não está limitada no Kronos. Ninguém enxerga e nem interpreta no Kronos. Não há tempo de refletir sobre o tempo sob o arquétipo de Kronos. Ele é rápido, fulgaz. A verdadeira vigília se dá no Kairós, o tempo de Deus, sobre o qual ninguém sabe, nem os anjos.O tempo de Deus, é o Kairós que é o tempo da oportunidade (v.32).

Uma linda perspectiva do texto em Marcos é a idéia da Casa. O dono da casa entrega a gestão desta casa para seus servos, mas não avisa quando vai voltar. Deixou a sua casa, deixou as responsabilidades de cada um bem definidas e foi viajar. Voltará de surpresa e espera que todos estejam prontos e conscientes para apresentar suas tarefas cumpridas.Somos inexcusáveis porque o dono da Casa deixou nossa responsabilidade bem explicadinha, um tutorial que pode ser entendido em qualquer língua!

A Igreja é chamada a cuidar da casa. Isto a coloca em linha de colisão contra os servos inúteis. Contra quem usa os dons da Criação maravilhosa de Deus em favor de seus mesquinhos interesses. Somos chamados a ter a coragem e a resiliência do profetismo. Somos chamados a lermos as entrelinhas de um processo abusivo, consumista e elitista que apontam para a destruição das pessoas pobres e da beleza de nossa casa comum. Peçamos portanto a Deus, como o salmista: Converte-nos ó Deus das celestes hostes; faz brilhar a tua face e teremos salvação! (Sl 80,3) Ou, em outras palavras: Maranata! Vem Senhor Jesus!

by +Francisco, South Western Diocese, Brazil