Smoke, Sustainability and the Kingdom of God

Smoke Yesterday morning I ventured out into the streets of Chiang Mai and I took this picture at one of the street side restaurants. The smoke is from the stoking of the charcoal for the days cooking. The production of charcoal from trees in tropical regions of the world is a major cause of deforestation. This morning we are taking a bus into the mountains to Chiangdao to visit sites of UHDP, the Upland Holisitic Development Project, where they are working with marginalized hilltribe populations to address these issues of deforestation and agrictultural practices. We made a $600 microloan to the work of UHDP through the Sand Diego based organization Floresta.

Early in our year when I found out we'd  be getting a stimulus check from the government, I challenged the readers of the blog to come up with a creative way to use the funds. It is the most commented post from the year and has some fairly entertaining ideas if you're looking for a way to blow through $600. The micro-loan idea won the contest.

Floresta and UHDP are great examples of a growing number of Christian mission agencies that recognize that Jesus call to go out into the world is a call to not just communicate the good news, but to enact and innovate and practice the good news among the people. Here's how I described earlier in the year some of my own journey as a pastor and a Christian longing for a more inhabited faith:

These days I am less interested in metaphors for living, and more interested in just living. I am less interested in the metaphor of the garden and more interested in the actual dirt in my back yard. I am less interested in the worn out pep talk metaphors of risk taking, and more interested in buying tickets to Thailand with our insurance check. I am less interested in the metaphor of love, and more interested in real loving actions with real people in real places. My ingrained and unquestioned Platonic idealism is giving way to what Eugene Peterson might call an earthy spirituality. I'd been snookered into thinking that the metaphors and the ideas would give me access to the sacred spaces, but am learning that the simple tangible act of buying something, or not, is a sacred event itself, an access point into what my tradition calls the kingdom of God.