Sunday, September 30, 2018

How Lovely on the mountains - Mark 16:14-18

As bible study concluded on Monday one participant came into my office and announced … “You need to change the text…None of them mentions mountains.” Lets see… And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news[b] to the whole creation.” NSRV…We are to preach even to the mountain tops for they are all a part of Gods creation …The creation that God proclaimed Good and the psalmist reminds us;
 “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
    in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation,
    is the joy of all the earth,” (Psalm 48:1-2)
Though this psalm specifically mentions mount Zion how can we praise one mountain of God’s over another for just as all of humanity are Gods children so to all creation belongs to God.
Yet this being the season of creation again we must see how we have treated creation.  What have we done and how can we change?
Our mountains are harvested for wood and coal. They clear cut the top of a mountain and then they blow it up to find coal.  This practice continues today but it is hard to imagine without seeing it
So we have this video

I find the images of this video painful. It is terrifying when one thinks of the wild life displaces or destroyed.
The Appalachian Voices tell us that:
“The Appalachian region is home to one of the oldest and most biologically diverse mountain systems on the continent. Tragically, mountaintop removal mining has already destroyed more than 500 mountains encompassing more than 1 million acres of Central and Southern Appalachia.
After the coal companies blast apart the mountaintops, they dump the rubble into neighboring valleys, where lie the headwaters of streams and rivers, like the Kanawha, Clinch, and Big Sandy. The exposed rock leaches heavy metals and other toxics that pose enormous health threats to the region’s plants and animals — and people.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that mountaintop removal “valley fills” are responsible for burying more than 2,000 miles of vital Appalachian headwater streams, and poisoning many more. As a result, water downstream of mountaintop removal mines has significantly higher levels of sulfate and selenium, and increases in electrical conductivity, a measure of heavy metals. These changes in water quality can directly kill aquatic species, or disrupt their life cycles so severely that populations dwindle, or even disappear”[1]
Why Is Mountaintop Removal An Issue of Faith? The UCC reminds us
“When mountains are demolished for coal mining, they are gone forever. They lose their topsoil and forest, animal habitat and ability to filter water, and become uninhabitable places for humans and animals. Mountaintop removal is a permanent desecration of the gift of creation by a benevolent and gracious Creator. 
Mountaintop removal also destructively pollutes the streams and valleys where people have lived for centuries in Appalachia. It destroys their culture, their way of making a living, and their family structures. It occurs in remote places where there is very little self-determining political organization and is a colonization and exploitation of the land by outside interests. If it were a profitable enterprise for the people of Appalachia, then they would at least benefit economically. However, the opposite is true as the Appalachian counties are consistently among the economically poorest in the United States.
Mountaintop removal is a choice and not an inevitable circumstance. Power can be generated in ways that are sustainable and beneficial to the health of the mountains, the eco-systems, and the people who live there. As demonstrated by the people of the Coal River Valley, the mountains can sustain wind farms that lead to power generation, local jobs, and a sustainable eco-system. People of faith make choices to live in harmony with God’s creation or not. Creation is groaning with the scabs of mountaintop removal.”[2]
So, I had said that I would always bring these sermons home. Literally to right here so how does this or does this affect us?  Well in the past California has been a willing participant by using coal energy and as a state we still are.
That is sad news but there is actually Good news in that only 15% of a percentage point of the states energy comes form coal.  California is almost completely coal free.
What about here in Sonoma county? Well a survey of power plants in Sonoma in 2017 showed that we had 29 different power plants operating.  That seems like a huge number of power plants for one county but wait
12 were solar
3 were biomass
Another 12 were Geo thermal
One was hydro electric, and one was natural gas the natural gas plant makes fuel cells for the county.  One of the solar plants is actually Clos DuBois winery.
Clos Dubios says this about their winery; “We’re especially proud of our solar initiative, which utilizes over 4,000 solar panels to power our winery almost 100%, the equivalent of providing electricity to 164 homes a year.”[3]
I am happy to say that we have a choice here in Petaluma of how our energy is generated.  I personally choose to pay a higher rate for Sonoma Clean Power’s premium EverGreen service which generates 100% local, renewable power!
As we make choices to Honor God’s creation we are proclaiming the Good news to all that we in the UCC seek a just world for all by initiating and supporting programs that proclaim our love of children, love of neighbor, and the love of creation.

“How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
    who announces salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 57:7


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