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Creation Season

koruMany people, in the month of September, focus on creation. This month runs from the Eastern Orthodox starting the liturgical year on September 1 and prepares for the feast of St Francis on October 4.

This site is committed to the three year lectionary (RC) and its derivative, the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Rather than departing from that lectionary, resources will be provided here that can be used to have a particular focus.

The historic 1989 encyclical letter (link off this site) of the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I urged Christians to observe September 1st as a day of prayer for the protection of the environment.

The lectionary for year A (2014, 2017, 2020…)

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 4 and 10 September:
The Exodus reading sets an earthy tone of land, springtime, full moon, lamb, fire, bread, herbs, and blood – in which life was understood to be held. Evil has for too long been read dualistically separating “heaven” and “earth”, “flesh” and “spirit”. We may need to read our New Testament texts into a more holistic vision where heaven and earth are more closely bound (Matthew 18:18), and our neglect of creation and greedy carelessness is included in a contemporary reading of the sins understood in Paul’s letter.

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 11 and 17 September:
The Exodus reading once again, like last week, is oozing with images drawn from creation: cloud, darkness, sea, wind, and fire. It highlights the force of nature and reminds us of recent devastation which may be due to human abuse of nature. Psalm 114 has wonderful poetic images about mountains, sea, earth, and rocks. Paul reminds us of the appropriateness of different attitudes to creation. And the Gospel challenges us to “pay it forward” – we are responsible for what future generations inherit.

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 18 and 24 September:
The Exodus reading speaks of food and hunger and addresses having enough. Jonah addresses the variability of creation which is picked up in the Matthew reading where our working the land again leads to results that are not in proportion to our efforts. Philippians speaks of our physical life on this planet.

A creation reading of the lectionary forthe Sunday between 25 and 1 October:
Exodus could lead in to a very effective reflection on issues relating to water, its use, abuse, shortage, problems,… Ezekiel points to everything belonging to God, we are caretakers of everything. This fits with the Matthew reading in which we co-operate with God in God’s work in creation. Philippians can lead to a reflection on incarnation, God takes on full humanity and is united to creation which is sacred and good.

The lectionary for year C (2016, 2019, 2022…)

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 28 August and 3 September:
The First Testament readings and psalms speak of land, wilderness, deserts, pits, drought, darkness, a land that no one passes through, where no one lives, and a plentiful land where one can eat its fruits and its good things, God’s land that one can defile, heavens that can be shocked, and utterly desolate, places for water that hold no water. The gospel speaks of banqueting, feasting with and receiving from our prodigal, providing Creator.

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 4 and 10 September:
The First Testament readings and psalms has creation like clay in the potter’s hand. We are known and formed – my inward parts – you knit me together in my mother’s womb. They speak of land, heaven, and earth, life and death, trees planted by streams of water. The gospel speaks of calculating the cost and simplifying our lifestyle.

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 11 and 17 September:
Jeremiah brings the most poignant, strong words connected to creation this Sunday with a hot wind that comes out of the bare heights in the desert, an earth that is waste and void where all the birds of the air have fled. The fruitful land is a desert, and all its cities are laid in ruins. The whole land shall be a desolation. Yet words of hope are there even within this vision, which in the gospel speaks of the cost of searching for what we have lost.

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 18 and 24 September:
Jeremiah speaks of God’s presence in (or rather absence from) a physical place (in this case Zion). The Northern Hemisphere will identify with the thought that harvest is past, the summer is ended. There is mention of a spring of water, a fountain of tears. The psalm points to birds of the air and the wild animals. Amos highlights our measuring time by the moon and our fundamental dependence on food, on grain. The psalm picks up the sun as a measure of time and images the view of this fragile planet from on high. The gospel highlights we are stewards, “managers” of what God entrusts to us.

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 25 and 1 October:
Jeremiah highlights the attitude that land is ours – that it can be bought and sold and be our private property. In the psalm images from God are drawn from nature: pinions, wings. Amos questions the growth of wealth. Psalm 146 speaks of our breath and our relationship with the earth – our connection with the God who makes all things. 1 Timothy also questions our avarice, as does Luke’s gospel reading.

A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 2 and 8 October:
The First Testament images are strong ones of desolation – of the grieving as all we, and God, love is being destroyed. Jesus, in Luke’s gospel, highlights how attentive he was to the variety of nature and how he delighted in all the diversity in God’s natural creation.

Church Mission Statement

“To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth” was the fifth mark of mission added to the other four by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1990. Leaving aside my own concern that worship of God is not writ large as the primary mission of the church, we are probably and sadly not surprised at how slow the church has been in recognising our responsibility towards creation in our mission.

A SONG OF BROTHER SUN

– Metrical version
Altissimu, onnipotente, bon Signore
If you know of an 88788 tune that this can be sung to, please let me know.
1 Most High, omnipotent, good Lord,
To you be ceaseless praise outpoured,
And blessing without measure;
From you alone all creatures came;
No one is worthy you to name.
2 My Lord be praised by Brother Sun,
Who through the skies his course does run,
And shines in brilliant splendour;
With brightness he does fill the day,
And signifies your boundless sway.
3 My Lord be praised by Sister Moon,
And all the stars that with her soon
Will point the glitt’ring heavens.
Let wind and air and cloud and calm,
And weathers all, repeat the psalm.
4 By Sister Water, then be blest
Most humble, useful, precious, chaste.
Be praised by Brother Fire:
Cheerful is he, robust and bright,
And strong to lighten all the night.
5 By Mother Earth my Lord be praised;
Governed by you, she has upraised
What for our life is needful.
Sustained by you through every hour,
She brings forth fruit and herb and flower.
6 My Lord be praised by those who prove
In free forgivingness their love,
Nor shrink from tribulation.
Happy, who peaceably endure:
With you, Lord, their reward is sure.
7 By Death, our Sister, praisèd be,
From whom no one alive can flee.
Woe to the unpreparèd!
But blest be those who do your will
And follow your commandments still.
8 Most High, omnipotent, good Lord,
To you be ceaseless praise outpoured
And blessing without measure.
Let every creature thankful be
And serve in great humility.

Confession

From CofE’s Common Worship (link off this site). There are a variety of ways this could be adapted: “Father” could appropriately become “Creator”, the responses could be chanted Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison – sourced, for example in Taize.

We confess our sin, and the sins of our society,
in the misuse of God’s creation.

God our Father, we are sorry
for the times when we have used your gifts carelessly,
and acted ungratefully.
Hear our prayer, and in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We enjoy the fruits of the harvest,
but sometimes forget that you have given them to us.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We belong to a people who are full and satisfied,
but ignore the cry of the hungry.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We are thoughtless,
and do not care enough for the world you have made.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We store up goods for ourselves alone,
as if there were no God and no heaven.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

Chief Seattle

Speech attributed to Chief Seattle given to President Franklin, the President of USA, 1854. Dr. Henry Smith wrote this up from notes he had taken at the time (red central piece slightly adapted).

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin.

Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth. If we spit upon the ground, we spit upon ourselves.

This we know – the Earth does not belong to us – we belong to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the Earth – befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth. We did not weave the web of life – we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover – Our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for red man and the white. The Earth is precious to Him, and to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass, perhaps sooner than all other tribes.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are slaughtered, the wild horses tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the Eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival.

Intercessions

From BCP (USA) pp.388-389 – no copyright restrictions.
Each petition in the prayer book is followed by silence, Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer. This might be adapted by using another response, such as: God our creator grant our prayer.

Let us pray for the Church and for the world.

Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your Name may
be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal
your glory in the world.

Guide the people of this land, and of all the nations, in the
ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another
and serve the common good.

Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation,
that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others
and to your honor and glory.

Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant
that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as he
loves us.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or
spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and
bring them the joy of your salvation.

We commend to your mercy all who have died, that your will
for them may be fulfilled; and we pray that we may share
with all your saints in your eternal kingdom.

The prayers may be concluded with a collect.

A creation focused preface

From BCP (USA) p370 – no copyright restrictions.
God of all power, Ruler of the Universe, you are worthy of
glory and praise.
Glory to you for ever and ever.

At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of
interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being.

From the primal elements you brought forth the human race,
and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us
the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed
your trust; and we turned against one another.
Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight.

Again and again, you called us to return. Through prophets
and sages you revealed your righteous Law. And in the
fullness of time you sent you only Son, born of a woman, to
fulfill your Law, to open for is the way of freedom and peace.
By his blood, he reconciled us.
By his wounds, we are healed.

And therefore we praise you, joining with the heavenly
chorus, with prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and with all
those in every generation who have looked to you in hope, to
proclaim with them your glory, in their unending hymn:

The Canadian BAS has adapted this prayer, changed “rulers of creation” to “stewards of creation” and inserted a regular refrain “Glory to you for ever and ever“. They do not have a cue for this refrain, hence, either you need the text in front of you, or the text must be sung with a musical cue for the sung refrain. A better option, in my opinion, is to use a set cue and response such as

God of all creation
we worship and adore you

(see my work on this in Eucharistic Prayer 2 and Eucharistic Prayer 2 adapted.

Alternative Great Thanksgiving / Eucharistic Prayers with a strong focus on creation

Eucharistic Prayer 2 from Enriching our Worship

Eucharistic Prayer 3 from Enriching our Worship

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Rev. Bosco Peters

Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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