COCU Index Year C 2015-16

Year C
COCU46C, Pentecost 7C, 3rd July 2016
COCU 47C, Pentecost 8C, 10th July 2016
COCU48C, Pentecost 9C, 17th July 2016
COCU49C, Pentecost10C, 24th July 2016
COCU50C, Pentecost 11C, 31st July 2016

Easter C 2016 readings (Vanderbilt)

Citation index (Vanderbilt Library) in canonical order.

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COCU46C.Pentecost 7C.3rd July 2016

(work in progress)

Readings: 2 Kings 5: 1-14, Psalm 30, Galatians 6: (1-6), 7-16, Luke 1-11, 16-20.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
In the offering of our gifts, as well as the living of our days, may we not grow weary of doing what is right, but commit to speaking up for the voiceless, healing the broken, feeding the hungry, and all those mercies which are such a part of your heart and hopes for all your children. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. (Thom Shuman)

Reflection (may be used as Words of Mission/Benediction)
When we go into the world, O God,
may we not go alone;
with sisters and brothers, with friends,
may we be companions for each other;
may we walk together, talk together,
sing songs and pray and listen,
listen to the story of you, and your love
for all that lives; listen to our
stories telling of encounters of the Divine;
listen in the silence for your still assurance.
When we go into the world, O God,
may we go free of burdens;
may we carry ourselves and the gifts
we have received, with humble confidence;
may we leave behind the extra bags,
the riches of comfort and privilege –
so that we may enter each new place
open to receive what is offered,
to learn more than to teach, to listen
more than we speak, to honour what, and who, we find.
When we go into the world, O God,
may we go free of fear:
may the peace we carry – your peace –
run deep enough to warm our unsheltered nights,
protect us when our peace is rejected,
settle us where we land,
give us joy to eat and drink with friends
who once to us were strangers;
may your peace be the wick for love, O God,
bringing light as we go into the world. Amen.
(Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story. Sound File here).

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COCU45C.Pentecost 6C.26th June 2016

Readings: 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14, Psalm 77: 1-2, 11-20, Galatians 5: 1, 13-25, Luke 9: 51-62.

West Epping Uniting Church used the reading focused upon the mantle passed from Elijah to Elisha in an intergenerational service. They talked about our heroes, and what mantles God might be calling them to take up. They then created and put on their own mantles. Very creative.

west e 1 west e2

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NAIDOC Week 2016


NAIDOC WEEK: 3-10 July 2016

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. It is an opportunity for all Australians to come together to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people, and participate in a range of activities and to support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. To follow the celebrations or find out more information, visit the NAIDOC Week website.

2016 NAIDOC Theme: Songlines –The living narrative of our nation
Songlines are the oldest living narrative of our nation, and will be the focus for the 2016 NAIDOC Week celebrations. It will highlight the importance of Songlines to the existence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Dreamtime describes a time when the earth, people and animals were created by our ancestral spiritual beings. They created the rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures. Dreaming tracks are sometimes called ‘Songlines’ which record the travels of these ancestral spirits who ‘sung’ the land into life.


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UCA Sunday, 22nd June 1977

The Uniting Church in Australia celebrated the formal union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Church on June 22nd, 1977.

Here is the combined service used at Pilgrim Church on UCA Sunday 2013.
UCA Anniversary 2013

Order of service from UCA Worship Working Group for 30th Anniversary here.

Here is a list of other resources for UCA Sunday: UCA Anniversary

My hope is that this church will continue
to first open its heart to the needs of others;
lift its head to attend to opportunities on its horizon;
offer its hands in generous hospitality and healing…
In the Spirit God who raised the Christ,
extending God’s extravagant compassion, grace and love
to whomever the neighbour might be 
at the time, in that place, of whatever culture.
And especially to be present
to the lost, the least and the last.
[Prayer on leaving the ministry of Mission Officer by John Emmett]

A prayer from Jon Humphries:
God Who Unites Us in the Work Towards the Common Good
– A Foundational Uniting Church Prayer
(Adapted from the Uniting Church in Australia, ‘Statement to the Nation’ 1977)
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
The path to unity can be long and at times difficult.
You call us into unity as a sign of the reconciliation you seek for the whole human race.
In Christ you commission us with a responsibility to society which will always fundamentally involve us in social and national affairs.
You give us responsibilities within and beyond this country to work to uphold basic Christian values and principles, such as the importance of every human being and the need for integrity in public life.
You give us the task of proclaiming truth and justice and the rights of each citizen to participate in decision-making in their community.
You call us to advocate for religious liberty and personal dignity.
You commission in us a concern for the welfare of the whole human race.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
Move us to seek the correction of injustices wherever they occur.
Push us to spend our time and effort for the eradication of poverty and racism within our society and beyond.
Fill our lungs with your Spirit that we might call for and affirm the rights of all people to equal educational opportunities, adequate health care, and freedom of speech.
Spur us forward to work so that all may find employment or dignity in unemployment if work is not available.
Fire up our passion and burn away our complacency so that we might oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms.
Give us the desire and the want to challenge values which emphasise acquisitiveness and greed in disregard of the needs of others.
Separate us from selfish thoughts and values that we might stand against that which encourages a higher standard of living for the privileged in the face of the daily widening gap between the rich and poor.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
Concern us with the basic human rights of future generations.
Urge us to find wisdom and take action to ensure the wise use of energy, the protection of the environment and the replenishment of the earth’s resources.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
We owe you our first allegiance.
Under you the policies and actions of all nations must pass judgment. Steel us for when our discipleship and allegiance bring us into conflict with the rulers of our day, that we may stand your ground.
Unite us as one people so that your universal values find expression in national policies and that humanity may survive under your guidance.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
We pledge ourselves to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere.
We commit ourselves the family of the One God — the God made known in Jesus of Nazareth;
Who is the One;
Who gave His life for others.
In the spirit of His self-giving love may this be so.

(Tune: Sandon, TiS #582)

God of our life, through all the circling years,
We trust in thee;
In all the past, through all our hopes and fears,
thy hand we see.
With each new day, when morning lifts the veil,
we own thy mercies, Lord, which never fail.

God of the past, our times are in thy hand;
with us abide.
Lead us by faith to hope’s true promised land;
be thou our Guide.
With thee to bless, the darkness shines as light,
and faith’s fair vision changes into sight.

God of the coming years, through paths unknown
we follow thee;
when we are strong, Lord, leave us not alone;
our Refuge be.
Be thou for us in life our daily Bread,
our heart’s true Home when all our years have sped.

Words: Hugh Thomson Kerr (1872-1950), 1916.
(NOTE: Kerr wrote this hymn for the 50th anniversary of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.)
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Refugee Week (World Refugee Day June 20)

In 2000, the 9th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia expressed our commitment to seek “fair, humanitarian, adequately resourced and culturally appropriate government policies and procedures for the processing of refugees and asylum seekers”.

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. UnitingJustice Australia has released their Refugee Week (14–20 June) resources for 2015 with the theme ‘With courage let us all combine.’ Taken from the second verse of the Australian national anthem, the 2015-2017 theme celebrates the courage of refugees who have refused to deny their beliefs or identity in the face of persecution, fled their homeland and often endured terrifying and dangerous journeys only to face the cruelty of detention before working hard to make a new life for themselves and their families. It also serves as a call to action for all Australians. Download the resource here.

refugee week 2016Also, The Uniting Church’s ‪Refugee Week 2016  resource Searching for Freedom celebrates the rich diversity refugees bring to Australian society! Searching for Freedom is a reminder of what people are doing when they flee situations of persecution and grave danger. 2016 SearchforFreedom_RefugeeWeekResource

Because it’s important to understand what’s happening in the world and in Australia for those searching for freedom, this resource includes information about Australia’s history of accepting refugees, what it means to seek asylum, and how many refugees there are in the world and where they are living.

It describes an alternative to ‘stopping the boats’, and includes a section on the situation of the roughly 30,000 people who are living in the community waiting to have their claims for protection processed.

The resource includes worship resources for Refugee Week as well as a number of ideas for what you can do to help bring about positive change. You can download a copy of the resource here.

See also Migrant and Refugee Sunday resources.

God of hospitality and refuge,
come to us here in this place of security and safety. Remind us that you are the God Almighty;
large enough for all people,
all nations, all tongues.
Help us, with the presence of your Holy Spirit,
to be able to create space
for those who seek asylum and refuge.
In the name of Jesus, your Son. Amen. (from UCA 2016 resource)

O Lord, how long shall we cry for help, and you will not listen?
Or cry to you, ‘Violence!’
and you will not save?
Why do you make us see wrong-doing and look at trouble?

In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?

(The response can be sung. The musical setting can be found in Uniting in Worship 2, p. 200)
Where is your justice, God?
Where is your purpose?
Where is your reason?
Where is your compassion?
Do you not care for your people,
your creation, your reputation?
Your purpose is hidden from our eyes.

In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?

Your reason is absent to our ears.
Your compassion is not discerned by our hearts. We have no hope (and remember asylum seekers who have no hope).
We are lost (and remember asylum seekers who are lost).
We are afraid (and remember asylum seekers who are afraid).
In faith and hope, we respond:

‘How long, O God, how long?
(from Uniting in Worship 2, Second Order of Service for the Lord’s Day, pp 200-202, adapted, The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia (2005), Sydney: Uniting Church Press)

From a blessing for refugees in Pierre Pradervand’s forthcoming book of 365 Blessings to Heal Ourselves and the World:
“We bless the host nations in their spirit of compassion and sharing that their citizens may be awakened to the immense human, intellectual and cultural wealth these newcomers represent for them. We bless all concerned in their consciousness that my sister or brother is myself and that the challenge of integrating these immigrants is truly an amazing gift of the universe in helping all work toward the win-win world that alone will guarantee the survival of the human race”.
(Above text from The Gentle Art of Blessing page).

We are not alone. We live in God’s world.
We believe in God,
who has freely given the Holy Spirit
to bind us together as a community of grace.

We believe that the spirit can lead us
in the discovery of truth,
in the pursuit of justice, and
in the practice of caring for one another.

In our homes, in the church and in the community the Spirit offers us inspiration and courage.
We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

(from Prayers on Parade (2006), compiled by Allan Shephard, Stepney, South Australia: Axiom Publishing. Permission is given for the use of this text in worship)


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resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

In the wake of the shooting tragedy in Orlando and attack on LBGTQI community (June 2016) – on the 163rd day of 2016, the 173rd mass shooting of the year in the USA:
Gracious God, our tears are exhausted. Yet we weep again for the dead and injured. This time in Orlando. How long, O God, must we weep for slaughtered children so numerous that we no longer remember a time when we didn’t weep? Embrace us who mourn as we wipe our tears on your soaked shoulder. Shine your light on those whose only companions are fear and anger. As we step from this sanctuary give us the strength to live out the justice that is your desire. We turn our eyes to your mercy in this time of confusion and mounting loss. God in your mercy, …
(from a Facebook post by Steven Chapman)

As we hold in prayer the now 50+ lives that were taken in the tragic shooting in Orlando, and those who loved them, we remember the ways in which our society and our church encourage violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people, especially those who are also people of color. We pray to God for an end to violence against all who are marginalized and we remember that the same God we pray to is also the one who calls each of us to be involved in the work of creating a more just church and world. May the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer be spoken this morning in every pulpit and may every pastor preach what is true: they are beloved people of God. (Facebook post, Reconciling Ministries Network)

Let speeches fall silent – a hymn after the Orlando massacre.
This hymn may be freely used through July 31, 2016.
Music – click here for two options.

Let speeches fall silent and platitudes cease
from hawkers of violence they brand as “peace.”
Let people who suffer find places to speak,
and holders of power give way to the weak.

Let teachers of hatred, suspicion, and fear,
and those who would kill for the views they hold dear,
be turned from their ways and disarmed of their wrath
to walk on a new, more compassionate path.

Forgive us the times we neglected to act;
forgive our excuses for courage we lacked.
God, teach us the wisdom that leads us to grace:
your image is found in our enemy’s face.

Adam M. L. Tice, June 15, 2016
©2016 GIA Publications, Inc.

And this new hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, in response to the Orlando tragedy

To a Place of Celebration
EBENEZER D (“Why Do Nations Rage Together”)

To a place of celebration filled with laughter, dancing, joy,
Came such violent devastation— one man’s efforts to destroy.
God, we grieve for loved ones taken; we lament, “What can we do?”
Now, we’re feeling lost and shaken; heal our nation! Make us new!

Weapons kill— and so does silence; hear our prayer as we confess:
We have given in to violence, we have bowed to hopelessness.
God, we’ve lost our sense of vision of a world where there will be
Plowshares made from violent weapons, justice in society.

Give our leaders strength for action, give them minds to mend our flaws,
Give them courage and compassion and the will to change our laws.
May we work for legislation that will curb guns’ awful toll.
God, renew our dedication to a world that’s just and whole.

Give us love to change our vision; give us love to cast out fear.
Give us love to speak with wisdom— love to work for justice here.
Give us love to welcome difference— love no hatred can destroy.
Only love can stop the violence; only love will bring back joy.

Biblical References: Isaiah 4:2; 1 John 4:18; James 3:1-12; Micah 6:8; Matthew 25:35
Tune: Thomas John Williams, 1890.
Alternative Tune: BEACH SPRING
Text: Copyright © 2016 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: New Hymns:

See sheet music here.


Natalie Sims has created a page on Singing from the Lectionary, with songs to lament the deaths in Orlando, and to gather songs that celebrate and seek the inclusion of LGBTQI people in the church. Thanks, Nat!

This one by John Bell, There is a Place, written after Dunblane tragedy but seems appropriate for Orlando.

There is a place prepared for little children
Those we once lived for, those we deeply mourn,
Those who from play, from learning and from laughter
Cruelly were torn.

There is a place where hands which held ours tightly
Now are released beyond all hurt and fear
Healed by that love which also feels our sorrow
Tear after tear.

There is a place where all the lost potential
Yields its full promise, finds its lost intent;
Silenced no more, young voices echo freely
As they were meant.

There is a place where God will hear our questions,
Suffer our anger, share our speechless grief.
Gently repair the innocence of loving
And of belief.

Jesus, who bids us to be like little children
Shields those our arms are yearning to embrace,
God will ensure that all are reunited;
There is a place.

Praying with Psalm 42
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.

We cry out with those who long for justice,
who long to know your mercy and your comfort,
who yearn for a place of safety and belonging.

My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”

We hollow out a space in our hearts for those
who are wounded by our words, our actions and inaction.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?

We mourn in solidarity and cry out in anger
with those who suffer persecution and bigotry.

By day the Lord commands steadfast love,
and at night God’s song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

We give thanks for your love that prevails,
that lives on in the hearts of the faithful,
and we repent of our closed and stony hearts.

I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”

We acknowledge the gifts of those who are oppressed,
the beauty we have cast away from us.

Hope in God; for I shall again praise the Holy One,
my help and my God.

You give us the faith do justice;
you give us hope in your grace;
you give us love that we may love
on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Steve Garnaas-Holmes)

st aug

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COCU44C.Pentecost 5C.19th June 2016

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a: God instructs Elijah to go to Mount Sinai, and comes to him there. At Elijah’s cave he experiences wind, earthquake and fire, but God’s voice is only heard in the whisper that follows. In spite of his fear at the threats against his life, God leads him back into ministry.
Psalms 42 and 43: A song of lament, with a commitment to praise God in the face of persecution of suffering.
Galatians 3:23-29: Now that the way of faith in Christ has come, the law is no longer needed. Those who trust in Christ are God’s children, and we are all equal in God’s family.
Luke 8:26-39: Jesus liberates the Gerasene demonaic, who begs to go with Jesus once he has been healed. But Jesus sends him home to tell of what God did for him.
(summaries by John van de Laar on his Sacredise website. His weekly reflections on the themes of the RCL readings, and global and local applications are always really helpful. )

(Contemporary versions of the lectionary readings by Nathan Nettleton)

Church of Scotland starters

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World Day against child labour – June 12th 2016

wcms_459104Download poster: WDACL2016_Poster_EN_PDF_Web

This year, the focus for World Day Against Child Labour is on child labour and supply chains. With 168 million children still in child labour, all supply chains, from agriculture to manufacturing, services to construction, run the risk that child labour may be present.

The World Day Against Child Labour is an initiative to raise awareness and activism. The ILO website explains: “Hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world are engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms, violating their rights. Of these children, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.”

“Child labour has no place in well-functioning and well regulated markets, or in any supply chain. The message that we must act now to stop child labour once and for all has been affirmed by the Sustainable Development Goals. Acting together, it is within our means to make the future of work a future without child labour.” Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

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2 Kings 5:1-14 –
Psalm 30
Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 – Jesus sends out the disciples….


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World Environment Day – June 5th


The Uniting Church in Australia has prepared a resource for World Environment Day 2016, Together for a world made whole. The resource made available through Uniting Justice can be downloaded at the link, or COCU.UJA_World_Environment_Day_2016. It has reflections from the Asia-Pacific context.

WED aims to inspire more people than ever before to take action to prevent the growing strain on planet Earth’s natural systems from reaching breaking point. The 2016 theme is the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife, which erodes precious biodiversity and threatens the survival of elephants, rhinos and tigers as well as many other species. It also undermines our economies, communities and security. The 2016 slogan is “Go Wild for Life” and encourages people to spread the word about wildlife crime and the damage it does, and to challenge all those around you to do what they can to prevent it.

Sri Lanka becomes 16th country to destroy confiscated ivory – and first country to apologise to its elephants. Recommended reading. Prayers for elephants in Thailand.

More than 60% of Africa’s forest elephants have been killed in the past decade due to the ivory trade.

Illegal wildlife trade is a wrong that must be corrected.

Etihad has signed an agreement to help end the illegal trade in wildlife.


Uniting Justice liturgical resources for World Environment Day 2015 (downloadable resource link at end of blurb on Uniting Jusice website). The 2014 resources are here.

William (Bill) Wallace (New Zealand) has prepared a ‘mass of the universe‘ which could be considered for World Environment Day. He has generously uploaded the text, MP3 files, music scores etc, and is complete in itself. Worth checking out.

There may be resources in Seasons of Creation that could be helpful for planning too.

Presbyterian Church USA – Caring for Earth’s Creatures (download)

Celebrating the Earth
v1 We light and put in place this candle for the land, sea and sky.
A green candle is put in place and lit

v2 We remember the richness of Planet Earth:
mountains unfolding to desert and plain,
seas swaying to the rhythm of tides,
skies reflecting the colours of light.

v3 We place this green cloth for the creatures of Earth.
A large green cloth is placed near/around the candle

v2 We remember creatures of land, air and sea:
horses running for the joy of living,
parrots chatting on roofs and branches,
dolphins leaping from sea to sky.

v4 We place these leaves for the fruits of Earth.
A branch of green leaves is put beside the candle

v2 We remember fruits of the land:
grasses bursting with nourishing grain,
flowers exuding colour and fragrance,
trees renewing the sweetness of air.

v5 We put this book in place for humanity.
A collection of sayings and poems is put on the green cloth near the candle

v2 We remember all sages and prophets:
through them recalling the power of love;
through them reclaiming a spirit of compassion;
through them embracing Earth and each other.
(Adapt.PCNV Earth Liturgy)

Creator God,
breath and source of life,
in love you called the world into being
and in grace you made us and call us your children.

We stand in awe of the wonder of your creation:
its beauty and wildness;
complexity and power;
resilience and fragility.

God of life,
you call us to be participants in the web and
wellspring of life:
to be nurtured by the planet;
to be nurturing of the planet;
to cherish the world and all that lives.
But we have failed and creation groans under our weight.

God of grace,
forgive us in our brokenness:
when we have taken too much from the earth;
when we have not spoken out
against greed and destruction;
when we have allowed our most vulnerable neighbours
to be harmed.
We seek courage and forgiveness to be made whole.

God of love,
we pray for those people, communities and nations
already suffering the devastating effects of climate change;
and we pray for the diversity of life on earth,
so much of it already threatened by our actions.

God of hope,
we pray for the world’s leaders
Bless them with wisdom and creativity,
and a shared vision of hope for all creation.
May they find the determination
to take strong action against climate change,
and the political will to act together for the common good.

Creator God,
we pray for us all,
that we might restore our relationships with each other
and work together to heal the earth.

Renew us in your grace
for the sake of your creation. Amen.

(Source: Uniting Justice World Environment Day 2016 resources)

(posted on Rex AE Hunt’s website, with further reflection on this theme)
It was Christmas Eve in December 1968.
Apollo 8 was orbiting the moon, the American astronauts
busy photographing possible landing sites
for the missions that would follow.

“On the fourth orbit, Commander Frank Borman decided to roll the craft away from the moon and tilt its windows toward the horizon – he needed a navigational fix. What he got, instead, was a sudden view of the earth, rising. “Oh my God,” he said. “Here’s the earth coming up.” Crew member Bill Anders grabbed a camera and took the photograph that became the iconic image perhaps of all time” (McKibben 2010:2).

The space agency NASA gave the image the code name AS8-14-2383
But we now know it as “Earthrise”, a picture
“of a blue-and-white marble floating amid the vast backdrop of space, set against the barren edge of the lifeless moon” (McKibben 2010:2).

This image, along with another of Earth from space,
called “Blue Marble”, and taken by crew on board Apollo 17 four years later,
has appeared in TV mini-series,
scientific publications and school text books,
on greeting cards, a postage stamp, and advertising posters,
not to mention having their own pages on Wikipedia!

As the other Apollo 8 Crew member, Jim Lovell, put it:
“the earth… suddenly appeared as ‘a grand oasis’” (McKibben 2010:2).

But author and environmental activist Bill McKibben has pointed out:
“…we no longer live on that planet” (McKibben 2010:2).

Not that the world has ended.
It hasn’t. You and I are still here – south east of the Wallace Line.
Earth is still a fragile web of interconnected and
interdependent forces and domains of existence.

It is still the third rock out from the sun,
located in a galaxy called the ‘Milky Way”,
“three-quarters water. Gravity still pertains; we’re still earthlike” (McKibben 2010:2).

What has ended is the world as we thought we knew it.
That ‘grand oasis’ has changed in profound ways.

“We imagine we still live back on that old planet”, says McKibben,
“that the disturbances we see around us are the old random and freakish kind. But they are not. It’s a different place. A different planet. It needs a new name” (McKibben 2010:2).

That ‘different planet’ has been brought about by global warming.
The sudden surge in both greenhouse gases and global temperatures.
And “a series of ominous feedback effects” (McKibben 2010:20).

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