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The Wolf Shall Lie Down With the Lamb: #NoPlasticsforLent

The Word

Genesis 1:29-30

29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Being with the Flock

It was a sunny, unusually warm, winter afternoon in pre-pandemic 2020 when I had what I can now see as an “a-ha” moment. I had been having an inner struggle of sorts; I couldn’t see where God was calling me. That afternoon I had done what I usually did when the weather broke, go for a short stroll to clear my mind through the Kentish pastures of southern England that I love. A stone’s throw away from my university was a small farm where sheep graze. A baby had just been born, and as the sun warmed me, that precious lamb, and everything else in that slice of creation, I had the strongest desire to leap over the fence and lay down with the flock. I didn’t (that would be trespassing), but I really wanted to.

The sheep in the pasture that I would often walk by in Canterbury, England

My Lenten Fast

Something clicked for me that day. People close to me pushed me to think about that impulse, and to appreciate the Biblical imagery that it harkened to, shepherding to be specific. I always loved animals. My junior year of undergrad I went vegetarian for Lent after taking a course called “Environmental Ethics.” I learned how our choices as consumers, including the foods we choose to eat, contribute to environmental degradation or wellbeing. The diets we follow have an impact. A report by the Yale School of Forestry shows animal agriculture takes up about 80% of farmland but provides only 18% of the calories we consume. Now three years later, my Lenten practice is to go vegan. For me and many other Christians around the world and throughout history, Lent is a time to enter into a fast in an effort to bring oneself closer to God and become immersed in creation.


Living for Creation

Prior to my graduate studies in England, I thought I was meant to be an academic. Being abroad, however, gave me time and opportunities to distance myself from what I had been accustomed to. My eyes and ears opened to the “labor pains” of creation, as St. Paul calls it, and I felt the pull to live my life for God and God’s creation. I hope that through my fasting, study, and work that I might bring about a shred of Isaiah’s vision of the kingdom of God into existence in this time and place.

Isaiah 11:6-9

6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

Looking Beyond Lent

Now as a soon-to-be seminarian and aspiring ordained minister in the ELCA, I look beyond Lent, to how I can bring others into the radical vision of this future world; a kingdom we can only glimpse but know that it is there. Diet and fasting are not always options; economic insecurity, food deserts, and certain disabilities limit options, but there’s still much to be done. For me, a diet based in nonviolence and answering a vocational call in pastoral care and advocacy are how I can contribute to creation care. I pray that this season of Lent may be a time for us all to consider how we might, in our own ways, take a step toward a world in which all God’s creatures may “lie down together.”

A calf I’ve befriended near my home in central Pennsylvania

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do the choices you make as a consumer impact your local environment? How do they impact environments around the world?
  2. What sacred texts or Biblical passages inspire you to work to be a good steward of creation?
  3. What could fasting for creation look like to you, your congregation, and your community? Is fasting something that everyone can participate in equally? Why or why not?


Larry Herrold is the ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow with the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) office in Harrisburg, Pa. A native of Sunbury, Pa., where the east and west branches of the Susquehanna River meet, he graduated from Susquehanna University in 2019 with a BA in History and Religious Studies. He received a MA in Modern History from the University of Kent in England, where he completed a Fulbright Scholarship. Herrold is deeply committed to the intersection between ecclesiastical service, social justice, and tradition. He will be attending Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary beginning Fall 2021 to earn his MDiv, pursue rostered leadership, and learn more about incorporating eco-justice into ecclesial ministry.

Creation Care on Campus: #NoPlasticsforLent

A Starting Place

Creation care looks different at different stages of our lives. College is a transitional time for many of us. We are in the process of figuring out our independent adult lives outside of the family we grew up in. This means not only determining what values and ideas to prioritize, but also figuring out what resources we have to put towards those priorities. It can also be hard to figure out what that looks like.

Making A Change

When I (Sandra) first started at UMD in 2017, I became involved in the Humble Walk, UMD’s Lutheran Campus Ministry, because my faith was important to me. Being part of this community opened my eyes to a number of topics that I became more passionate about as I learned more. I’ll admit, when I was in high school, the environment wasn’t too high on my priority list. My freshman year at UMD, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.

Humble Walk volunteer crew in Puerto Rico Spring 2018

That year for spring break, the Humble Walk led a trip to Puerto Rico to work with Lutheran Disaster Response and the Caribbean Synod to help with disaster relief. It was being in Puerto Rico and seeing the destructive effects of climate change that opened my eyes to taking creation care more seriously, and it was being in community with other students that helped me recognize that caring for creation is something we are called to do in faith. 

Taking the Next Step

Understanding that call was only the first step though. The next part, I am continually working on. What does creation care look like given my current circumstances? Sometimes, it looks like having discussions in my German classes about Germany’s policies towards sustainability, and the impact of refugees, specifically climate refugees, in Europe. Other times it’s something that seems small, like making sure a plastic bottle goes in recycling rather than the trash. It’s the ways to do creation care in community with others that excite me the most though, which is why I got involved in the Friends of Guilford Run.

Friends of Guilford Run

The Friends of Guilford Run began with a stream clean up led by student leaders Laura Tiffany (’19) and Dan LeKites (’19) in 2016. As members of the Humble Walk, UMD’s Lutheran Campus Ministry, these students felt called to take care of the stream that runs in front of their worship space. The Friends of Guilford Run has since adopted the stream and hosts at least four stream clean-ups a year in addition to removing invasive species and replacing them with native plants.

Stream Clean up volunteers Fall 2019

Once a semester, Friends of Guilford Run also does stream clean ups and educational sessions about caring for the environment with the CARing Kids program, a mentoring program between college students and elementary and middle school students from Langley Park. Sandra Roper (‘21) and Jordan Kreh (‘24) are the current student leaders, working with their talents and faith community to take care of the stream. More recently, Jordan and Sandra have been able to connect with others in College Park who care about the stream, including a freshwater biology graduate studies lab and local community members.

Volunteers for Good Neighbor Day stream clean up and invasive species removal Fall 2020

Called Forward into the Future

God has called us to care for the environment, but more than that, He has provided us with plants and animals, habitats and ecosystems to learn from.

Job 12: 7-11 reads “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”

Growing up, I (Jordan) participated in many activities to help the environment, but still felt a disconnect between myself and creation. Reading these verses helped me realize that I had settled into a reactionary role, believing humans knew what was best for the environment and we just had to convince enough people to recycle and save water. In the past few years, I have sought out opportunities to learn from the world around me.

I visited farms to understand the relationship between crops and soil health, read about the ways nature works to maintain balance, and marveled at the hand of God present through it all. I joined the Friends of Guilford Run because I believe the stretch of stream we sponsor has something to teach me. Already in my first semester I have learned how much life teems in the small spaces between roads, and realized I don’t have to go to a forest or ocean to find an ecosystem worth protecting.

Job 12:7 starts with ‘ask,’ so I will continue to ask questions and practice being still to listen for the answers. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Many parables from the bible use creation to teach us how God wants us to live our lives. Jesus often sought out nature (gardens, lakes, mountain tops) to teach and pray. In what ways can you challenge yourself to learn from the environment?
  2. Thinking about how the global health crisis intersects with environmental issues, and ways that accommodating for public health safety have affected initiatives to care for the environment, within your circumstances, what are ways you can advocate for the environment in community with others? 
  3. How can you continue to support essential workers and show up for your community now and as we transition into a post pandemic normal?
  4. In what ways invite people into conversation with you about environmental justice? What do those conversations look like given your current circumstances and resources?


Sandra Roper is a senior at the University of Maryland, originally from Massachusetts. She expects to graduate in May with degrees in English Literature and Germanic Studies. She has been an active member in the Humble Walk, UMD’s Lutheran Campus ministry, since her freshman year and has worked on a number of projects motivated by her faith focusing on environmental justice, queer justice, and racial justice.






Jordan Kreh is a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park studying aerospace engineering. Intersecting her major, faith, and care for the environment, she is a student leader of Friends of Guilford run, Engineers Without Borders, and the Humble Walk, UMD’s Lutheran campus ministry. Her hope is to push for environmentally sustainable practices in the aerospace industry and continue to utilize her engineering skills with creativity and compassion.

Local is Global: #NoPlasticsforLent

The Word

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Hebrews 10: 24-25

Local Is Global, too.

If you have found yourself overwhelmed by the scope and scale of the climate crisis, you are in very good company. A problem that spans the atmosphere, oceans, and the body of every living being on the planet is overwhelming. The good news, though, is that a problem that is so relentlessly global also has to be local.

The Long Haul

Pra. Andrea Baéz from Argentina spoke to us on the Second Sunday of Lent about her community’s seventeen years-long work to protect their environment from toxic mining run-off. Everything that Pra. Baéz had to say showed a deep love for her people and the ecosystems around her home in the city of Esquel, and at the same time brought an awareness and concern for everyone and thing downstream of her own community, all the way to the Atlantic coast. Her work protecting Esquel and the province of Chubut is also work protecting people many miles away, and even around the globe as she keeps toxins out of migrating fish who would carry them all the way across the ocean.

Community action to protect the climate, Minneapolis, 2019

Every Action Matters

There is no local climate action which is not also global, it’s the nature of the beast. That’s a hopeful thought for me. No one acting alone is up to the task of addressing the climate crisis, and no one’s work is insignificant. Wherever you are, however you begin, your work matters to the whole.

As Hebrews tells us, we are made to work together, to be together, to “stir up one another to love” and “not neglect to meet together”.

You are not alone. Your Lenten practice, your consumer choices, your political organizing makes a bigger difference than you can know. Thanks be to God.

Discussion questions:

  • What seemed most relatable from Pra. Andrea’s story? Least relatable?
  • How does the text from Hebrews encourage or challenge you today? Who has “stirred you up” to love? What communities encourage you when you feel overwhelmed?
  • What climate solutions have you been curious about? Passionate about? Intimidated by? What seems like a tangible step toward sustained climate action that you can take on/foster?
  • Andrea’s spirituality is fed by the collective action of her community taking care of one-another. How might your spirituality be fed by caring for creation?


Baird Linke is a candidate for Word and Sacrament Ministry with the ELCA, studying at Wartburg Theological Seminary. He’s passionate about ecotheology and good food. He lives in Minneapolis, MN and tries to spend as much time outside and moving with his dog as he can.

Justice Alongside Indigenous Peoples : #NoPlasticsforLent

‘Wild’ Places

I have been interested in environmental activism, indigenous justice, and decolonization since I was a kid (I was a nerdy and revolutionary child, what can I say?). It became apparent over the course of my time in college and grad school. During my MDiv/MA program, I took a class on Environmental Law and Policy. One of the professors engaged us in a discussion about the early days of environmental policy and the focus on the US’ imagination about wilderness and the Muir-inspired notion of preserving ‘wild’ places.

Taina on a walk on the grounds of Santa Rita Abbey in Patagonia, AZ- the traditional land of the Hohokam, Sobaipuri, Ópata, Tohono O’odham, and O’odham Jeweḍ peoples- on a trip for a class entitled, “Ecotones of the Spirit.” She writes “we spent time with tribal communities and other organizations working towards sustainable/indigenous food systems and immigrant justice on the border. I felt the spirit of the land, inspiring me to take this photo.” March 2017.

Somehow (it was me, I did it) the conversation became about the fact that “wilderness” doesn’t exist. Indigenous peoples have been engaging with, traveling over, and altering the surface of the Earth since before European arrival; the ‘noble savage’ cliché in popular imagination came about because the white settlers didn’t perceive changes Native people made to the environment. Because there were no brick buildings, churches, gravel roads, or vehicles, the alterations were invisible to their eyes.

Indigenous Land Intervention

There are many cases of ecosystems suffering from the absence of indigenous intervention, including the increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires and wildfires in California. The reason? Climate change, sure. But until recently, the Chumash and other California tribes were prohibited from performing controlled burns of accumulating debris on the forest floor as their ancestors did for generations.

Plain in Patagonia, AZ

My explanation receives confused looks from the class, and a dismissive comment from my professor. “I’m unaware of any policy implemented to prevent such interactions, and I don’t know about that history.” I’m certain he wasn’t trying to be rude. He’s a cool guy and I respect him, but it continues to bother me that someone with so much education and experience in environmental law would perpetuate the colonizer narrative about ‘wilderness.’ At the same time, it’s not surprising considering his racial and socioeconomic status.

Reclaiming Rejected History

It’s important for me to converse with white folks about the reality of rewritten or rejected history by colonizers and how that affects what they believe about indigenous peoples and land use. One of my goals is decolonizing educational spaces and reclaiming history as part of the work of environmental justice- working to ensure communities of color and other historically oppressed communities’ health and well-being are no longer ignored or put in harm’s way through the creation or implementation of environmental regulations.

Christian Relationship to Creation

Christianity has a lot to answer for in this regard, and therefore Christians should be involved in seeking environmental justice alongside indigenous peoples. The historic Christian propaganda of “Manifest Destiny,” based in the Doctrine of Discovery (a papal document declaring Christian Europeans’ divine right to seize land from non-Christian Natives via killing, enslaving, and/or converting them) came about because of the white colonial conceptualization of “wilderness.”

Engaging Creation on a hike in Hanging Rock State Park in NC on the traditional lands of the Saura and Tutelo people. 2017.

Historic efforts to tame the North American wilderness resulted in suppression of traditional ecological knowledge and practices. Many Indigenous communities are working to reclaim their sovereignty and their ancestral relationship with the land. Christians can learn from the traditional conceptualization of relationship with the land, and there are notable efforts by theologians to do so. A Christian theological ethic that incorporates our relationality with Creation into our spiritual imagination could turn us from the colonial idea of “wilderness” to understanding ourselves as part of a sacred community.


I pray that the practice of #NoPlasticsForLent brings us to a place of reflection, repentance for the perpetuation of colonialism, and prayer for environmental and racial justice. Amen.


Reflection / Discussion Questions:

1) What are some environmental justice issues that you are passionate about? How does your faith inform how you respond to these issues?

2) What spiritual practices have helped deepen your relationship with creation in the past? What practices might you let go of / adopt this Lent?

3) Who are Indigenous leaders in your community? How might you follow their lead in relationship to Creation? How might you learn more / support their work going forward?

4) Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, here I am. (Isaiah 58:6-7)

What are your favorite justice-oriented verses of sections of Scripture? What about verses describing Creation?

If you’re unsure, check out ELCA Advocacy resources for inspiration!


Taina Diaz-Reyes is the 2020-2021 Hunger Advocacy Fellow with ELCA Advocacy’s DC office. A “Lutheracostal” originally from Tucson, AZ but raised in the DC area, she graduated in 2016 from George Washington University with a BA in Geography and Sustainability, then completed the MDiv/MA in Sustainability dual degree program at Wake Forest University in December 2019. Passionate about using geographic and decolonizing research methods to pursue social and environmental justice, her background includes research in environmental quality and management, the role of science in society and politics, indigenous food sovereignty movements, racial justice, food justice, and decolonization. Her hope is to do doctoral research and theologically informed advocacy to pursue a more sustainable human connection to the Earth and each other through research and writing on food and faith.

Camp and Creation Stewardship: Perspectives from a Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Leader

About the Interviews

In October of last year, I had the opportunity to interview three of my friends and mentors, all current or former employees of Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp (FLBC). FLBC is a Lutheran Outdoor Ministry in Lakeside, MT. The interviews focused on how camp prepares young folks to be advocates for climate justice, and will be published in their entirety in the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry February newsletter.

Kyle Lefler served on year round staff at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp from 2014-2020, most recently serving as the Associate Director. These are excerpts from my conversation with her.

Conversation with Kyle

Colter: How does time spent outdoors change young folks, short and long term?

Kyle: The ability to play and be outside of traditional rules and boundaries really help people reset and learn things. It’s easy to see this when kids engage in creative play. In the long term, kids are able to establish their own boundaries in nature. They set up their own societies, build forts out of things they find, and create their own imaginative worlds! It all builds confidence. I’ve seen how access to true beauty and sacred space opens peoples’ eyes to how the world could be. Folks are moved towards stewardship and conservation of the land, and also consider, in new ways, how we can all be more inclusive. Kids will look back on their experience at camp when they think about climate justice.

Colter: If you could imagine a future where Lutherans are active climate advocates, what would that look like?

Kyle: We’re good at talking about this, and good at doing small, one-time acts of service toward climate justice. There are awesome folks who want to push the church but they’re hesitant to take bold risks. We should be challenging our synods to be carbon neutral. We should be pushing Lutheran Outdoor Ministry to incorporate climate education into its national programming. Too often these efforts are met by the tired response of ‘we must be apolitical,’ but the world is changing and shifting in our hands, and we’re called to care for our neighbors and our earth.  Those are things the ELCA has explicitly stated we value as a church!

Our youth are not ambiguously “the future,” they are the present. We shouldn’t wait until our churches are burning in forest fires to care about the climate changes that cause those fires. God is calling us to something that is earth-changing right now. We have to be brave in admitting to it, and acting on it.

Next Steps

  1. Be sure to check out all Colter’s interviews in the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry February newsletter here:
  2. Become a Faithful Climate Action Fellow.

    The Faithful Climate Action Fellowship is for people aged 18 to 26 who are passionate about their faith and the climate. Fellows will engage in 9 months of joint study, leadership training, and action. The time commitment is 2-3 hours a month and fellows will receive a $500 stipend. Priority will be given to Muslim and BIPOC Christian young adults from the Midwest and Southeast. The application deadline is Feb 15.

    Apply here:

  3. Check out our video series on faith and creation care from 2020, #NoPlasticsforLent

    This series includes ecotheology, conversation about ecojustice and community, and green household swaps!

    Videos available here:

Reflection Questions

  1. What did you learn / what was surprising that you heard about camp and / or creation care in this interview?
  2. Kyle gives some bold recommendations about how Lutherans can be active climate advocates. Are your local faith communities implementing these or similar ideas? How might you become a bold climate advocate?
  3. How does your faith inform the way you think about creation care? How are you investing in being more deeply spiritually formed in your understanding of ecojustice?



Colter Murphy served as counselor and wilderness leader at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp during the summers of 2014-2017. Colter currently serves as Director of Youth and Service at Faith Lutheran Church in Chico, CA. He can be reached at







Kyle Lefler is passionate about working with young people in God’s Creation and striving to create intentional community spaces where they are unconditionally loved & accepted, empowered & advocated for. She loves early morning lake swims, handwritten letters & the Avett Brothers.

Forward in Peace: #AdventinPalestine

Searching for Peace

In life we tend to always be on the search for peace. Peace of mind, peace and quiet, stop to violence, and more. While searching for this peace I find myself wondering if this “peace” we are in search of actually exists. If it does exist where is it located and how do I obtain this peace? That is where faith comes into the picture. At some point in my life I had to decide if I would allow faith to lead me to peace.

Peace Not Walls trip participants and leaders (including Xavier) enjoying a meal that they prepared and cooked during a cooking class in Aida Refugee camp in Bethlehem in January 2020.

Palestine and Peace

Palestine is a very dear place to my heart. It’s everything to me – the food, the people, the land, this list can go on forever. Visiting Palestine became a reality for me when I was trained to be a Peace Not Walls trip leader. Through that travel experience I have learned that there are many similarities with my life and the lives of Palestinians. As a Black man in America I have experienced a great deal of oppression. While in Palestine I quickly learned that their oppression mirrors my own on many levels.

When I arrived I noticed separation. It wasn’t hard to see while in Bethlehem, that is probably because there is a large wall to maintain the separation between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin –  right now we are the most segregated city in the USA. There isn’t a physical wall up but you can definitely imagine the wall that separates the oppressed and the oppressors. In moments when I see this type of oppression I start to wonder: How can people be happy in these conditions? How does one plan for a future? What hits me hardest is how can one believe in God or see God when hate is all around?

Peace Not Walls trip participant, Kayla, stands in solidarity with Palestinians, along the wall that separates Israel from Palestine

Faith and Peace

I am a faith based person. Most anything I do is done within the realm of my faith. I have a belief that everything will work out somehow. I have a three year old son. I have faith that if “Peace on earth” does not happen for me, the work that I put in will help create a more peaceful world for my son.

In Proverbs chapter three we are told to “Trust in the lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding”.

With that scripture in mind I used that energy to find God in the West Bank. It took me three visits to the West Bank to finally see God. I had to stop trying to understand it for myself and started trying to understand it through the people. Although my faith was tested beyond it has ever been, after gaining an understanding through the people and not of the people, I was able to see God. I was able to see “peace”: I saw kids playing, families eating, friends hanging out. 

Often my place of peace is in quiet space with a symbol of God to ground me and remind me why I do the work I do.

Forward in Peace

Faith for me is the answer, being able to find God in a country where I see so much pain showed me that I needed to make some adjustments back at home. I no longer needed to feel or think “why me” or “I wish”. I gained the power to stop trying to understand my oppression and start taking actions to relieve my oppression. I was able to gain peace within myself through someone else, and in turn I took that peace within and built it so I can create peace outward. I truly believe if we can all find peace within ourselves we will all see and help build the peace that we need in this world to thrive. 

Peace Not Walls January 2020 trip participants moments before departing home with peace and love on their face and in their hearts. Ready and prepared to spread that peace and love to the areas surrounding them.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Xavier talks about how his faith has impacted his understanding of peace. How are faith and peace related in your understanding? How is this different from the way peace is talked about in other contexts?
  2. When faith + peace seem hard to come by, Xavier leans on Proverbs Chapter 3 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. What scripture are you leaning on in these days?
  3. Peace is not only a lack of violence. When we hear about peace from our Palestinian siblings, we hear about a “just peace”. What have you learned this season about what a just peace in Palestine might look like? How are you committed to playing a role in this?
  4. Where is your community in need of a just peace? How are you committed to playing a role in this?

Additional Resources:

Learn more about how you can advocate for a just peace in Palestine by signing up for ELCA Advocacy Action alerts here:

Give financially to Opportunity Palestine, a Lutheran and Palestinian-led organization bringing peace and justice to Palestine through education here:

My Name is Xavier Thomas and I was a trip leader for Peace Not Walls in January 2020. I was born and raised in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I am the youth director at All Peoples Gathering in Milwaukee. I have the unique opportunity to serve the same church I grew up in. I have been married for 5 years and we have one son, and we foster as many children as we can fit in our house. I would say that Fatherhood and Palestine have become my passions but I will always love my Xbox!