December 8 – Regenerative Liberation

By: Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt Minister for Environmental Justice, UCC National

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Sovereign One, the majesty of our God (from Isaiah 35:1-10).


“Fighting for abolitionist futures means that we have to undermine climate change and environmental degradation,
and resist policing and militarism as solutions to these problems.
– Dereka Purnell,
Becoming Abolitionists.


When it comes to environmental justice, there are simple truths that bear repeating:

  1. When you harm the environment, you inevitably harm people, and not everyone gets harmed equally.
  2. In response to the unequal burden of pollution, people will rightfully resist and call for change.
  3. To maintain a system of profit that benefits from pollution, those who resist will be punished.

At times, this third truth becomes visible to the broader public—the water cannons used by police in freezing temperatures at Standing Rock or, more recently, the rubber bullets and tear gas used against the Line 3 pipeline resistance in Minnesota.  Abolition invites us to examine this interconnectedness, challenge this inequity, and imagine a world of earth care and environmental justice without criminalization.

Amid the injustices of his own time, the prophet Isaiah points to a world remade. The prophet’s abolition vision describes a world in which the nature around us rejoices, blossoms, and sings. It is a world in which the glory and majesty of God are manifest. This is the world for which we are dreaming, praying, and struggling, and this Advent, we are called to lean into the promise that we shall “see” it. Empowered by this vision, for the beauty of the earth, we continue now in the tradition of prophets.


Our Wild God, we await your coming like the desert dreams of water
and you put among us prophets who speak into life abolitionist visions of blossoming abundance.
As we long for your justice to come and dwell among us,
keep us working to bring your promise to life,
for we will see glory.  Amen.


Artwork: “Regeneracao” by Yohana Junker (discover more at:


“Liberation is a love that is big enough to encompass all society, and active enough to transform it. It is a love that dismantles oppression, recognizing that our oppressions are intertwined.” ― Victoria Law and Maya Schenwar

Take Action

Abolition is Earth Care

  • Advocate: The Environmental Justice for All Act in Congress resulted from two and half years of consultation and collaboration with members of communities that have suffered from environmental racism and inequality. Take action today by contacting your members of congress.
  • Dwell: Watch the documentary Mossville: When Great Trees Fall about the connections between racism and environmental disaster in one Louisiana town. Use the study guide to go deeper and learn more.  Where are these interconnected freedom movements alive in your community?
Support Environmental Justice for All Act

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