Category Archives: Worship Samples

Church Bulletin and Newsletter Input

There is plenty of information “out there” on how we can make steps to live a life with less of a negative impact on our neighbors and bring the Outside in… but that’s only if you happen to go looking for it. Perhaps adding a few simple pieces of inspiration that can work for your fellow worshipers in the material the read periodically can start new habits and open closed minds.  Below are some links that you can copy and paste shared by folks throughout the Lutherans Restoring Creation community. (Please acknowledge source when sharing!)

E – news “blurbs” for Winter 2020: 

Lutherans Restoring Creation

Never heard of us? Find out more below!

Our Mission

Lutherans Restoring Creation exists to inform, encourage, and uplift the discipleship practice of caring for the environment throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.This is accomplished by cultivating a network of dedicated stewards of earth and neighbor who proclaim God’s promise of hope and healing for all.

Who We Are

Lutherans Restoring Creation is a grassroots movement of Lutherans, driven by laity, pastors, lay professionals, synodical leadership, and others who hold positions in the ELCA and its institutions. This movement grows out of a long history of Lutheran concern (the 1993 social statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice).

Search “Congregations” for more resources at www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org.

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Looking for a Lenten Discipline?

Every little thing can make a big difference when it comes to care for creation! If you are looking for ways to conserve energy and be a good steward to our earth, Lutherans Restoring Creation can help! They have developed a whole checklist for energy savings in your home and congregation! Visit www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org to discover what you may need for Personal Discipleship. Maybe each day of Lent, we can take some time to better care for God’s creation!

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Lutherans Restoring Creation Devotionals

We are facing a critical time in our world when we need to put extra focus on the environment and God’s creation. If you’d like to focus on care for creation during this season of reflection, you can find great devotional materials on www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org.

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Lutherans Restoring Creation Commentaries

Preachers: Are you looking for resources and commentaries about care-for-creation during this season? Lutherans Restoring creation has created a wonderful database of commentaries for the entire lectionary cycle. You can find them all by season and narrative sermons at http://www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org

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Care for Creation Congregational Covenant

Interested in taking the next step with Lutherans Restoring Creation in your congregation? Our congregational self-organizing kit — available for download at: LutheransRestoringCreation.org.   This is a step-by-step guide to help you function as a creation-care congregation as well as how to access to the resources needed to carry out this program on an ongoing basis. Whether or not you are already active in greening your congregation, this kit will enable you to identify yourself with Lutherans Restoring Creation, provide an overall plan for your efforts, and help you to further your congregational commitment to ecology and justice.

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Lutherans Restoring Creation: Going a step further

We care for creation on more than just the individual or congregational level! ELCA members have the opportunity to be public witnesses through the process of submitting, educating fellow members, and eventually passing synod resolutions. Some of these public statements and declarations of change also move along to be a Memorial to be passed by the entire Church-wide body which meets every three years. For details about your local submission requirements contact your synod office. You can see examples of synod resolutions on the Lutherans Restoring Creation website.

 

 

 

God in Forests: Who is Jesus for Chipmunks?

A Service In and For the Forests – Feel free to share this worship service or get ideas – we appreciate acknowledgement!

Click here to download bulletin.

Pentecost Creation/Forest — July 15, 2018
Homily by Pastor Susan Henry, House of Prayer Lutheran Church

Who Is Jesus for Chipmunks?

For maybe twenty-five years, I’ve mulled over a theological question that makes me feel a little foolish. I never raised it in a seminary class or talked about it with a professor, and when I’ve tentatively mentioned it to a colleague or two, they’ve looked at me like, “What???” But this question keeps coming up for me, and that kind of insistence in my life is sometimes God’s way of nudging me to stick with something that matters. So, even though you’ll probably laugh or give me the “What?” look, I’m going to share my theological question with you: “Who is Jesus for chipmunks?”
Stated more broadly, I guess this is a question about Jesus’ relationship with life other than human life – with chipmunks and vultures, worms and whales, Easter lilies and Queen Ann’s lace, cornfields and baobab trees. Who is Jesus for the rest of God’s created world? Does other-than-human life need Jesus, just as we do?

Martin Luther taught that “God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” Luther must have thought that something important about being saved, about being made whole, is written right on creation itself. And Luther perceived God as “entirely and personally present in the wilderness, in the garden, in the field.” Imagine that! In suggesting that the gospel is not only proclaimed in Jesus but also revealed somehow in creation itself, maybe Luther too had been wondering about who Jesus is for chipmunks.

I don’t have a definitive theological conviction about this chipmunk thing yet, but over the past couple years I’ve felt something shifting in me that makes me way more attentive to all of life, not just human life, and to God’s relationship with life itself on the planet we all call home. Where I’ve been, who I’ve met – especially Phoebe, and what I’ve read has given me new and helpful vocabulary about “the web of life” and about “other-than-human life” and about how everything belongs, everything is connected, every kind of life matters.
Throughout my ministry, I’ve talked about the Bible as the long story of God’s loving way with God’s people, and although that’s true, it doesn’t seem quite sufficient anymore. I see how I’ve skipped over the part of the Flood story where the rainbow is a sign of the covenant God makes not only with humankind, but also with all the creatures of the earth. God saves life. People matter, but we’re not all that matters to God.

When I was on sabbatical a couple years ago, I invited you all to “notice and note” the created world around you with the hope that you (and I) would really see more, would care more about what we noticed, and would be moved to care for God’s creation more faithfully and intentionally. While you were here noticing the world around you, I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan noticing and noting the national forest in which I could drive at least ten miles in every direction and maybe only cross one road. It was amazing, dense, dark, humbling. I was fascinated by all the life around me at Carrie’s cabin – the jackpines with cones that only open under intense heat so that new life can begin after a forest fire, the trees with straight rows of woodpecker holes in them – like corncobs, the eagles that dove for fish in the lake in front of the cabin and took their catch home to the eaglets in their massive nests. I saw more, I learned more, I cared more. I felt more connected to creation and to all life.

For days, I tried to identify some other huge birds that I knew weren’t eagles and didn’t seem like osprey or hawks, either. Finally, I saw one – then another, and then a third — land in a couple dead trees fairly nearby. I grabbed the binoculars, zeroed in on those birds, and discovered that they were huge, ugly, disgusting, bare-headed, hunched-over vultures. Ha! I laughed out loud because I was expecting beauty and grandeur but I got these less-than-lovely scavengers who nevertheless are a really important part of the web of life. We need those vultures!

In the UP, I saw the startling, bare, ruined earth where land was being clear-cut for the sake of more and more new construction, for joining house to house to house, despite its cost to the life of the forest community. I learned a little about woodlot management where mules or horses are used to haul out what is selectively cut, instead of using massive machinery that makes it necessary to cut more in order to sell more in order to pay back the massive loans on that incredibly expensive logging equipment. It’s a pretty vicious cycle and a pretty grim story.

Right alongside all this, I was reading Earth-Honoring Faith, Lutheran ethicist Larry Rasmussen’s urgent call to sing faith’s song in a new key – an unfamiliar key that no longer treats the earth only as something to be used, even exploited, by humankind, but in ways that foster the well-being of all creation, ways that “sing to the Lord a new song.” Spirituality and ecology become allies in this transformation, for the sake of the world God created and loves.
Back in 1971, Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax, and it’s still a call for voices that will speak for the trees and for people who will act for the sake of nature’s well-being. In a way, it’s even a call to what Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann names as “a new ecological perspective in which the earth and all of the creatures of the Earth are treated like covenant partners who are entitled to dignity and viability. Every acre,” he says, “every squirrel, every radish, every whale, every cornstalk is entitled to viability and respect.”
The Lorax calls us to speak for the trees and act for the sake of creation, but scripture, creation itself, theologians, and ethicists call us to do so because we are people of faith, because we know Jesus, because we love the world that God loves. “God so loved the world” – the cosmos, the planet, the people, the trees, the oceans, the creatures, even the chipmunks – that God came and lived among us on this beautiful blue marble that is life’s home. And not just for our lives, but for all the life we know.

When our fallenness, our sin, our very human unwillingness to let God be God in our lives compromises other life and maybe the life of the planet, God’s saving work in Jesus matters, and our faithful response to God’s grace matters, too. Never before has human life had so large an effect on our planet, and that just might call for an enlarged understanding of what it means to live faithfully. Our assumption that human life matters most to God might be challenged by the gospel written in trees and flowers and clouds and stars; in beauty, wonder, well-being, fullness of life, and harmonious relationship with God and all creation; in life together that’s more like life in the kingdom Jesus came preaching.

It may be quite a shift for you to take that “new ecological perspective” Brueggemann describes “in which the earth and all of the creatures of the Earth are treated like covenant partners who are entitled to dignity and viability.” I’m still in the midst of that shift myself. You might wonder about, be drawn to, challenge, or even resist such a new perspective, but perhaps we can’t sing in a new and unfamiliar key without a new perspective. It won’t be easy, but it might be necessary for us as people of faith. If Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly, such abundance surely includes respect for the life of, as Brueggeman puts it, “every acre, every squirrel, every radish, every whale, every cornstalk.”
Every chipmunk, too.

Amen

Sources: 

Attributed to Luther, cited in Awakening to God’s Call to Earthkeeping, elca.org

 LW 37:61, ibid.

Genesis 9:9

Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key, Larry L. Rasmussen, Oxford University Press, 2013

 Walter Brueggemann, “Jesus Acted Out the Alternative to Empire,” posted June 22, 2018, sojo.net

Where are We? From the Microscopic to the Cosmos: Services and Sermons

Over the summer of 2018 Pastor Susan Henry at House of Prayer Lutheran Church in Hingham Massachusetts decided to try something a little different.  After reading several books about the human relationship with creation over the years she wanted share some of these perspectives that may not come up in the typical lectionary cycle. The following are three services and sermons that she has graciously shared with our Lutherans Restoring Creation community. Feel free to use the material, but kindly be sure to credit the original authors as she has done.

Photo Credit - UnSplash - David Sandvik

Fourth Sunday of Easter in Year C (Susan Henry)

Revelation's Easter Message Readings for Series C (2016, 2019, 2022) Revelation 7:9-17 **Acts 9:36-43 **John 10:22-30 Sermon from Pastor Susan ...
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God in Forests: Who is Jesus for Chipmunks?

God in Forests: Who is Jesus for Chipmunks?

A Service In and For the Forests - Feel free to share this worship service or get ideas - we ...
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Microscopic - Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise

Microscopic – Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise

Micro-Creation Service Bulletin - Click here - free to share! (wonderful readings, music, etc.) Homily by Pastor Susan Henry, House ...
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Creation of the Cosmos: "Of All that is Seen and Unseen"

Creation of the Cosmos: “Of All that is Seen and Unseen”

Creation of Cosmos Service - Feel free to download and share this bulletin.  Please don't forget acknowledgements. Creation: The Universe  ...
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Bible verses on nature and care for creation

Bible and Nature

The following is a listing of bible verses on creation, our relationship with the earth, and our Creator. There are fifty-two verses listed here from the New Revised Standard Version. You may want to use them as personal devotion. They may be used weekly within your congregation’s bulletin. They are listed in order.

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:3-5 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Genesis 1:6-8 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

Genesis 1:9-13 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there wa s evening and there was morning, the third day.

Genesis 1:14-19 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights– the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night– and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Genesis 1:20-23 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

Genesis 1:24-25 24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so.God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:27 So God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:19 19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the human to see what he would call them; and whatever the human called every living creature, that was its name.

Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Genesis 6:19-20 And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive.

Genesis 9:11-13 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

Leviticus 25:3-5 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the LORD: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land.

Deuteronomy 10:14 Heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the LORD your God, the earth with all that is in it.

1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.

Job 38:1-7 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements– surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together praise.”

Job 38:25-27 “Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert, which is empty of human life, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass?”

Job 38:28-30 “Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.”

Psalm 1:3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for God has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.

Psalm 65:5-13 By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might. You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples. Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy. You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

Psalm 96:11-12 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Psalm 104:1-6 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent, you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind, you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers. You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken. You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.

Psalm 104:14-21 You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart. The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys. You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.

Psalm 104:24-30 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.

Isaiah 11:1-2 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:6-9 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 24:3-6 The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled; for the LORD has spoken this word. The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled, and few people are left.

Isaiah 35:1-2 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 LORD, the majesty of our God.

Isaiah 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

Isaiah 42:5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:

Isaiah 42:9-10 See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.

Isaiah 55:12 For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 65:17-19 For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress

Isaiah 65:21-25 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent– its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.

Jeremiah 4:23-26 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.

Hosea 4:3 Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing.

Matthew 6:26-29 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to your life’s span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.”

Mark 4:3-8 “Listen! A sower went out to sow.And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil.And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

Mark 4:30-32 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Mark 4:37-41 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

John 15:5 ” I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Romans 8:22-23 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Ephesians 1:8-10 With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Colossians 1:15-16 Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers– all things have been created through him and for him.

Colossians 1:19-20 For in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

2 Corinthians 5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 21:1-5 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” nd the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 22:1-2 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the

Litany for our Personal Covenant with Creation

L: For the marvelous grace of your Creation, we pour out our thanks to You, our God.

C: We praise you, O Lord
for plants growing in earth and water,
for life inhabiting lakes and seas,
for life creeping in soils and land,
for creatures living in wetlands and waters,
for life flying above earth and sea,
for animals dwelling in woods and fields.

L: How many and wonderful are your works, our God! In wisdom you have made them all!

C: But we confess, dear Lord,
As creatures privileged with care and keeping of Your Creation that we have abused Your Creation gifts through arrogance, ignorance, and greed.
We confess, Lord, that we often are unaware of how deeply we have hurt Your good earth and its marvelous gifts.
We confess that we are often unaware of how our abuse of creation has also been an abuse of ourselves.
For our wrongs, Lord, we ask forgiveness. We offer our repentance. We promise to reverence Your Creation as a gracious gift entrusted to us by You, our God. We promise anew to be stewards and not pillagers of what You have entrusted to us. We offer our covenant with creation to pledge our commitment to care for Your good Earth.

L: Creator God,
You have given us every reason to learn and promote this wisdom of lives lived in harmony with Creation. May You daily be present with us, gracing our service, our loving, our striving, through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

C: Amen

 

 

Resources for Creation Care Congregations

The goal of the LRC program is to incorporate creation care into the full identity and mission of your congregation and to foster an ethos in which everyone considers creation care to be part of your life together and your witness to their community. Therefore, choose actions and programs that contribute to this goal.

As you work your creation care congregational program, you may want to expand the choices for the action plan to make bolder plans, to draw upon particular assets, and to address local needs and opportunities. Consult the many additional resources on the websites sponsored by LRC.

LRC Self-Organizing Kit. This manual, available here on this site, or as a download, has many ideas for eliciting the full participation of the congregation as well as some principles for pursuing creation-care. There is also an excellent manual for congregations developed by students at Luther College, with many ideas and resources.

An Expanded Action Plan. The congregational self-organizing kit includes a much fuller action plan following the same categories as in your action plan: worship, education, building and grounds, personal discipleship, and public witness/policy advocacy. You will find there more choices and links to more resources. Explore the site for additional ideas.

Renewing your program and taking advanced steps. The manual includes many ideas for maintaining a vital creation care program and for taking it to the next level. If you find that the actions in the action plan have been exhausted by your efforts or you want more choices, consult the ideas in these sections, which come at the end of the manual.

Stories. For ideas and inspiration from others, spend some time on this site to see what programs and projects have been carried out by other Lutheran congregations.

Theological foundations. There are reflections for each of the five areas (advocacy, building/grounds, education, personal discipleship worship), identifying the biblical, theological, and ethical foundations for choosing programs and taking actions in each area of the action plan. These are helpful for study sessions or adult forums.

Special LRC Congregational programs. Consider joining the GreenFaith certification program for Lutheran Congregations. The program includes mentoring to complete a set of actions and events. LRC also sponsors Energy Stewards Initiative, a program that features online tracking of energy use, an action plan, and bi-monthly webinars that guide you through a process designed to lower energy use and carbon footprint and to free up funds for other ministries.

Professional coaching support. As the ELCA has offered coaching support for years as members work on stewardship programs, a Caring for Creation specialty program is in development. If your green team is at a point that they have some goals, but don’t know how to put it anything into action, you are likely in need of some coaching sessions to set some mile-markers along the way.

Be creative. We encourage you to develop your own resources for this program. And we hope you will share them with us! so that we can energize and inspire other congregations to join this effort to restore creation.

 

 

Devotional resources for use with the Bible and nature

The Green Bible (Harper Bibles, 2008). New Revised Standard Version that highlights in green print all passages related to nature throughout the Bible. Wonderful for personal devotion. Excellent introductory articles on Bible and Ecology by N.T. Wright, Barbara Brown Taylor, Brian McLaren, Matthew Sleeth, Pope John Paul II, and Wendell Berry.

Green Bible Devotional: A Book of Daily Readings (Harper Collins, 2009) A book of sixty daily readings, each of which is based on a “green-letter” passage in the Bible. Meditations and prayers follow the themes of water, air, land use, animal protection, human health, and responsible stewardship.

Stewardship of Creation: 30 Days with Nature (Prepared by students at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago) With daily Bible passages and reflections for personal use. Download, copy, and fold as a booklet to be distributed to congregations as shared devotional material.

Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer with God’s Creation Edited by Sam Hamilton-Poore (Upper Room Books, 2008) An excellent collection of scripture passages, hymns, prayers, blessings, and quotations for forty days of devotions for personal use. Good resource also for opening and closing meetings.

 

 

Creation Care Congregation: Public Witness/Policy Advocacy Ideas

Public Witness/Policy Advocacy: “Church exists to serve the world”

Hands-on project. Learn what environmental projects are happening in your area and what organizations are sponsoring them. Recruit members of your congregation to partner with them in the effort. Restore a habitat, clean up trash, plant trees.

Informational forums. Learn what environmental organizations are in your community and invite a representative of one or more to present a forum on their program. Promote the ways that your congregation can support their efforts. If you feel called to speak on climate change, there are tools available to help you communicate about the issue effectively according to behavioral science studies. Go to ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow site for a Moving Forward guide and consider taking their course to train others ineffective climate communication.

Legislative forum. Invite the head of the Lutheran Public Policy office in your area to preach and present a forum at your congregation. Or invite a local official familiar with local state and regional issues around the environment. If there is a critical issue in your area, plan a forum for information and conversation about it.

Action alerts: Invite members to sign up to receive action alerts via e-mail from ELCA e-Advocacy Network: http://www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Advocacy/Get-Involved. The process for contacting legislators is made very simple.

Partner with other faith communities. Join with others seeking to green their congregations. If no such organization exists, start one by asking the green team of one or more other congregations to meet with you and share ideas. Or, if you have been active for several years, offer to mentor another congregation in becoming a creation-care community.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

Creation Care Congregation: Personal Discipleship Ideas

Discipleship at home and work: “Love your neighbor”

Personal Covenant with Creation: Plan a worship service in which members can identify the Earth-friendly practices they are willing to commit to at home and work. Use a brief ritual that makes these commitments a stewardship offering. Our online form helps you save paper and participants will be sent a copy of what they pledged. Use the link at our site under Personal Discipleship and those eager to make change can be connected with other members of ELCA churches across the country.

Conduct a workshop on making your home Earth-friendly. Use the material available in the Comprehensive Environmental Guide for Congregations, Their Buildings and Grounds as a guide to inform members about the areas of greening they can do.

Support groups. Excellent for change of habits and accountability for “eco-recovery.” Use Simpler Living, Compassionate Life [www.earthministry.org].

Devotional resources: Recommend creation-care resources to members for personal devotions, like this “Stewardship of Creation: A Thirty Day Discipline.” Ask people to sign up to follow a discipline with a resource for a season of the church year.

A retreat in nature. Take a walk outside the next nice day after worship. Lead a retreat for people to get closer to the natural world. For guidelines, see http://www.letallcreationpraise.org/retreat-on-awe-and-mystery

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

 

Creation Care Congregation: Building and Grounds Ideas

Building and Grounds: “The church as an alternative community”

Energy Stewards Initiative. LRC program for congregations to reduce your energy use/costs and carbon footprint, with online tracking of energy data via the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio, an action plan, and consultation and accountability through regular webinars. Or get an energy audit and follow steps to reduce energy. For more info contact your local utility or visit: https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/owners_and_managers/congregations

Comprehensive Environmental Guide for Churches, Their Buildings and Grounds. Use a checklist along with the full guide for an overall environmental inventory of your congregation, and take action. Download the entire guide – some details may be outdated, but the ties to faith and ideas are timeless. www.webofcreation.org/Environmental%20Guide.pdf

Choose a specific project: Replace all incandescent bulbs; retrofit fluorescent lighting; develop a recycling program; reduce paper use; purchase green cleaning products; make Earth-friendly food choices; eliminate Styrofoam; develop Earth-friendly lawn care, among others.

Use of land & water: Community garden; restore to prairie; preserve natural habitats; plant trees; create a sanctuary or peace garden; nurture animal life. Phase out fertilizers and pesticides use for lawns. Many free resources, stories, samples and readings to share throughout the LRC site, but local experts are best to build on existing relationships. Consider sharing a broader understanding of our relationship with soil by researching the “Kiss the Ground” program. This educational movement has the potential to involve those interested in agriculture, science, history, gardening and climate change.  Watershed discipleship resources are plentiful and offer a safe entry point for many who may not feel called to other issues in creation care.

Know your property as an “Earth community.” Get to know the trees, plants, animals, insects, birds, and other creatures who live with you on this space. Live in such a way that all of you may thrive together. Pray for them. Worship with them. Include some in your church directory as your creation family. For directions, go to: http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/stewarding-your-property-as-an-earth-community.

For more information about Becoming a Caring-for-Creation Congregation, visit this page.

Creation Care Congregation: Education Ideas

Education: “Know your traditions and your world”

Earthbound: Adult education for this six-part video series produced by the ELCA to explore the theological foundations of Earth care and to examples of Lutheran Institutions carrying them out.

“Caring for Creation.” Organize a forum or study group to read and discuss the ELCA Social Statement. Copies available from the ELCA with guide. See the 52 excerpts from this social statement for use for use in the church bulletin each week.

Awakening to God’s Call to Earthkeeping. A timeless four-session, small group study curriculum for adult forums. Or consider using the ELCA Lenten series “Creation Waits with Eager Longing”

Youth. Try the “Know Trash? No Trash!” program designed by Lutherans Restoring Creation, read stories from other Youth Groups, raise funds through a recycling program. More info here.

Children. Kid’s books abound with environmental themes (The Lorax, The Giving Tree, etc) but for integration of scripture try: I Love God’s Green Earth: Devotions for Kids Who Want to Take Care of God’s Creation by Michael and Caroline Carroll (Tyndale House Publishers, 2010). VBS guides from Lutheran Outdoor Ministries are adaptable to any venue – most are free to download!

Other: For example, organize forums with local experts or develop a Bible study.

For more information about Becoming a Caring-for-Creation Congregation, visit this page.

 

Creation Care Congregation: Worship Ideas

Transformation through Worship: “Let all creation praise God”
(all resources found if searched on LetAllCreationPraise.org)

All Worship: Render every service as creation-care worship: call to worship, confessions, prayers, and blessing/commission, plus scriptures, hymns, and sermons.

Season of Creation. Observe a four-week optional season to celebrate creation as part of the church year, with liturgies, sermons, and alternative scripture lessons, etc.

Special Worship Services. Observe a special day, such as Earth Sunday in April www.creationjustice.org, Rogation Sunday, or a “Greening of the Cross” service in the Easter Season.

Blessing of the Animals. Hold a service near the time of St. Francis Day (in October) or any time in the church year.

Appoint the sanctuary. With creation-care banners, greenery, art.

Green your worship practices: energy-saving lights and heat; altar plants, local wine, green cleaning products, eliminate/recycle/reuse paper, intinction.

Other: For example, develop your own worship resources and occasions for celebration.

For more information about Becoming a Caring-for-Creation Congregation, visit this page.

 

Action Plan Ideas

The goal is to make a difference by transforming attitudes and commitments and by embracing concrete actions that reduce human ecological impact on the earth and contribute to justice for people affected by environmental degradation. The following links will provide ideas for you as you create your congregation’s action plan:

Transformation through Worship: “Let all creation praise God”

Education: “Know your traditions and your world”

Building and Grounds: “The church as an alternative community”

Discipleship at home and work: “Love your neighbor”

Public Witness/Policy Advocacy: “Church exists to serve the world”

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

Creating An Action Plan

Action Plan Guidelines

1. Explore our action plan ideas: Consult the Manual and the websites/ resources listed with each item for more information.

2. Choose one project from each category for the year. Count the projects you are already doing and add more where feasible [e. g. celebrate Earth Sunday]. Be sure to choose from each of the five areas. As you proceed fill in the Action Plan Form. Choose more than one project if it seems feasible.

Choose actions/projects that . . .

  • Have support in the congregation
  • Have committed people to carry them out
  • Are affordable for the congregation
  • For which you have energy and inspiration!

3. Delegate the responsibility: Identify which individuals or committee will be responsible for carrying out each project. Contact them to see if they are willing to do it [e. g. The Worship Committee]. Offer access to the resources available to do the project [e. g. two websites].

4. Identify a committee member to follow up: designate a member from the creation-care team to offer support to the committee to whom the project has been delegated and follow up to track the project through to completion. Or use the liaison representatives to the various committees who are on the church council [e. g. a liaison from the Creation-Care team to the worship committee].

5. Make the project ongoing: When it is completed for that year, set things up so that the project will continue into the next year [e. g. Put the celebration of Earth Sunday on the worship calendar as a regular part of each year].

6. Report: Report your successes to the church council, the congregation, and across the entire LRC Network (use this form!) Promote your identity as a creation-care congregation [e. g. Church newsletter with pictures of Earth Sunday celebration. Local newspaper].

7. Start again for the next year. Begin process of choosing projects for the following year. Begin with #1 above. [e. g. celebrate The Season of Creation]. Be sure to revisit the overall vision provided by the five areas.

8. Other. If the projects recommended in the action plan do not fit your situation, consider opportunities that use the resources of your congregation or serve the needs of your community.

Evaluate and adjust: Meet regularly (once a month or once every two months). As you work through the year, evaluate your action plan. Where needed, go back and retrace steps to make sure your action plan is being carried out. Affirm where it is working. When the steps suggested here are not working for you, revise the plan and adjust it to your needs and situation.

Remember the overall goal: To incorporate care for creation into the identity and mission of your congregation so that there is an ethos of care for God’s Earth in all that you do.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

Approving the Covenant

1. The purpose of accepting the program and approving the mission statement is to engage the entire congregation through its leadership to be aware of our Christian vocation to care for creation and to participate in this mission of the congregation. The benefit of pursuing efforts in five areas serves to make the mission comprehensive and to generate an identity of Earth-care as integral to the congregation. The program gives structure to your efforts in Earth-care and makes them intentional and public.

2. A first step would be for those who initiate the process to make the church council aware of the proposal to accept the care for creation mission for your congregation. In turn, the council may want to make the statement known to the whole congregation through a newsletter and/or bulletin insert. Invite input about the program and the covenant’s affirmations.

3. When you distribute the Covenant, make it clear that this is part of a program to be a care-for-creation congregation identified with Lutherans Restoring Creation. Make it clear that this is not a certification program and does not commit the congregation to any particular actions, projects, or expenses apart from what the congregation itself chooses to do. Use the statement “Ten Why Lutherans Care for Creation” to establish the reasons for the program.

4. We encourage the clergy and church council to read the statement carefully and to edit or adapt it to your situation and congregational ethos. In a formal procedure, the council will approve the affirmation, identify/authorize the liaison/green team, and establish any protocols for responsibility and reporting. You may want to have the covenant approved in a plenary meeting by the whole congregation.

5. You may want to consider incorporating into the overall mission statement of your congregation a phrase or sentence reflecting your commitment as a creation-care congregation.

6. Announce the approval of the program and the mission statement through the newsletter, bulletins, and personal witness at congregational gatherings. Urge people to participate in and support the effort. Consider using the brief ritual in this kit that can be part of any worship service as a way of integrating the program into the life of the congregation and acknowledging the sacred nature of our common vocation of Earth-Care.

8. Consider renewing the commitment to be a congregation that cares for creation on an annual basis, such as at an Earth Sunday service in April or perhaps at a service in the fall when you also ask members to make their personal stewardship commitment: (See “Covenant with Creation” and ritual in this kit).

9. You may want to let the larger community in which your church is located know about your Earth-care commitment via a local newspaper or through your synodical media outlets.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

Green Teams

How to create a “Green Team” with your congregation:

1. Formation. A green team may come into existence in a variety of ways: a self-designated group that approaches the pastor and the church council for authorization, appointed by the pastor and the church council, or recruited in response to an educational program on Earth care or a care for creation worship service.

2. Maintain Momentum. Maintain the green team through regular meetings, representation from various committees, invitations to current and new members.

3. Choose a name: Green Team, Creation Care Task Force, Earth-Care Committee, Stewards for Conservation; choose a name that acts as a welcoming banner to all. Discuss what words in your community have politicized connotations and try to veer away from those that may alienate anyone in your congregation.

4. Leaven for the Entire Congregation: The use of “Team” is our term for the group that sees that the commitments to care for creation are carried out, because a “team” functions differently from other committees. The team may take the leadership on some projects, but mainly it does not serve like other committees. It is like leaven in the congregation to see that the various committees, staff, youth group, older adult organization, Bible Study Groups, and functionaries of the church carry out the various programs. [See the directions for the use of the action plan.]

5. Alternatives. We recommend that a distinct group, such as a Green Team, has the responsibility to give leadership in carrying out the Earth care commitments. However, there need not be a separate group. The functions of the Green Team can be carried out by a standing committee such as the social ministry committee or the stewardship committee or by the church council representatives from the various committees, as long as the arrangement is working well to carry out the commitments of the mission statement.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

 

Getting Started, First Steps

Getting Started

The program, becoming a creation care congregation, can begin from any place—pastor, interested lay people, a standing committee, the church council. Once there is some interest, take the program to the pastor and church council for discussion, approval, and implementation on behalf of the congregation. If desired, have the congregation approve the plan at a duly constituted congregational meeting.

This is not a top-down program. It is directed by you at the congregational level. You are free to change, adapt, and add to the program. Edit the mission statement to meet your needs and commitments. Develop your way of implementing the program and adjust the action plan to serve your situation; celebrate all that you do.

1. Approval of a Covenant with Creation. The pastor(s) and church council approve the mission statement on behalf of the congregation, expressing your creation-care commitment in the following five areas: worship, education, building and grounds, member discipleship, public witness. You can make the commitments public in a brief ritual within a worship service.

2. A Green Team and the Action Plan. As part of this process, the pastor and church council authorize the establishment of an individual liaison or “green team” to record, carry out and report the commitments through the action plan. The church council or another committee may serve to carry out the creation care commitments.

3. Promote your identity. Fill in and display the certificate identifying your congregation as a creation care community affiliated with Lutherans Restoring Creation. Promote this identity among the members. You may also want to display “Ten Reasons Why Lutherans Care for Creation.” Encourage the congregation members and request the committees to participate in carrying out the commitments.

4. Report and renew. We encourage the green team to report their projects and events to the church council/ congregation and to redo the action plan process on an annual basis.

Lutherans Restoring Creation stands ready to assist you in providing this program, in making resources available for its implementation, and for promoting your story online as you choose to share it with us.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

Ten Reasons Why Lutherans Care for All Creation

To join with other Lutherans in caring for creation, help your congregation become a Creation-Care congregation; visit this page for more information.

Lutherans care for creation for many reasons, including:

1. Theology: We affirm God as creator of all. We have an incarnation theology that cherishes the continuing presence of God in, with, and under all reality. We see redemption as the restoration of creation, as “new creation.” We see the future straining toward the fulfillment of creation.

2. Cross and Resurrection: The gospel leads us to see God in solidarity with the human situation in all its pain and agony, especially the most vulnerable—humans and non-humans. A theology of the cross gives us solidarity with “creation groaning in travail” and stresses that God redeems all creation. Our affirmation of resurrection offers hope for new life in this world.

3. Worship and Sacraments: We affirm that the material is a vehicle of the divine and that Christ is present in such ordinary elements of life as grapes and grain—the basis for our delight in and reverence for creation. Our worship invites us into transforming encounters with God deep in the flesh and in the world. We are called to worship God with creation.

4. Ecclesiology: Our human vocation is “to serve and to preserve” Earth. We believe that the church exists for the sake of the world. We do not have an escapist theology. We are called to continual reformation in response to the needs and crises of this life. When Luther was asked what he would do if the world would end tomorrow, he apparently replied, “Plant a tree.”

5. Ethics: We have an ethic of faith-active-in-love for neighbor and for all creation. Liberated from a legalism that enslaves, we are freed to address new situations, such as the ecological state of the world. We do so not to dominate but as servants to our human and non-human neighbors. We do so not out of fear or guilt or arrogance but joyfully out of grace, love, and gratitude.

6. Social Ministry: With a heritage back to the Reformation, Lutherans have a history of social service to the poor, the elderly, the sick, the oppressed, the marginalized—through hospitals, homes for the elderly, social ministry agencies, Lutheran Immigration Service, and Lutheran World Relief. We extend that service to healing Earth community.

7. Advocacy: We ELCA Lutherans have relevant social statements: “Caring for Creation” and “Sustainable Livelihood for All.” We have a staff person in environmental/hunger advocacy in Washington and Lutheran Public Policy offices in many states.

8. Scholarship and Education: Many Lutheran scholars have written and spoken on ecology—in theology, ethics, biblical study, and social commentary. Colleges and seminaries of the ELCA have environmental ministry courses that prepare Lutherans for leadership in church and world. Many continuing education events for clergy and laity highlight creation care.

9. Caring for Creation across the church: Several synods with creation-care committees have declared themselves to be Care-For-Creation Synods. Many Lutheran congregations incorporate Earth-care commitment in their life and mission—worship, education, building and grounds, discipleship at home and work, and public ministry. Lutheran camps have brought environmental concerns to many people. The ELCA headquarters has a Green Team that works to model environmental action. The ELCA offers grants for environmental projects.

10. Organizations for Earthkeeping: Lutherans have led in the Green Congregation Program, the Green Seminary Initiative, the Web of Creation, promoting creation-care worship throughout the church year and the Season of Creation (www.letallcreationpraise.org), and, of course, Lutherans Restoring Creation (this network, this site!).

Lutherans are in a critical position to listen to the cry of the poor along with the cry of Earth and to take leadership in addressing these critical issues of our day. In whatever context you may be serving, we encourage you to participate in this endeavor.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

Companion Sites

Lutherans Restoring Creation greatly appreciates the volunteers who keep the following resources updated. We are also blessed to have a ELCA Stewardship and Advocacy teams who manage a standing library of resources ranging from public policy how-to’s to every social statement in entirety to study guides to talk about holistic stewardship practices in your church:

LetAllCreationPraise.org
Lutherans Restoring Creation Blog
ELCA Care for Creation
ELCA Advocacy

The following sites are great for referencing material and tracing the history of this work. However, there are many broken links and out-dated contact information. Please use these resources with that in mind and ask info@lutheransrestoringcreation.org for any updates.

www.webofcreation.org
www.bibleandecology.org

Worship as Re-Orientation

One way to look at worship is to say that it is the place where we can express with the larger community the Christian life we have nurtured at home and work throughout the week. Another way to look at worship is to say that it is about reinstating our proper place in relation to God, ourselves, and other people when we have had difficulty maintaining these relationships through the week. It is like being lost in the woods and then stopping to orientate ourselves to the directions by means of a compass and our nearness to the edge of the forest—and then finding our way home. It is like being lost at sea and then stopping to locate ourselves from the stars in the sky so that we know where we really are—and then returning to solid ground. It is like using a global positioning locator to know just where we are in relation to everything else—and then being moved into the right position. Worship is a matter of getting/keeping our bearings and being situated in our rightful place in the universe. In this process, it is important to emphasize that it is not we ourselves who get our bearings. Rather, we put ourselves into a position to allow God to give us our bearings, to restore us to our rightful relationships.

Restoring relationships with God and one anotherThrough the rituals and events of worship, we find ourselves restored to right relationships. Through worship we are oriented to wholeness and our true purpose in life by being brought back into proper relationship with God, ourselves, and others. For example, by praise of God, we restore God to God’s rightful place in our lives as the one who created and sustains us. By thanksgiving, we recognize our human dependence on God for life and health. By confession and forgiveness, we seek to overcome our self-alienation and the brokenness of our relationships. By hearing the word of grace and challenge, we rediscover a proper sense of direction and our purpose in life. Through the offering, we give ourselves and our resources to this renewed vocation. Through prayer, we express a longing for all people who are lost or broken to be restored to a place of wholeness in relationship. By communing together, we return from alienation to a harmonious connection with others of the human community. With a blessing and a benediction, we go out with a renewed sense of who we are, where we are, and where we are going. We have become orientated. We have found our bearings, and we have reaffirmed who we truly are and whose we truly are—and, in so doing, we have found our home, our place of belonging in the world. Of course, it is our responsibility to seek to remain in these relationship from communal worship to communal worship.

Restoring our Relationship with nature. Unfortunately, our restoration/reorientation to place often leaves out an important and, indeed, crucial relationship. We reorient to God, self, and others, but often without restoring our relationship to nature. Yet nature is the web of life out of which we have come and where we will go. Nature is the inextricable matrix in which we live and move and have our being. We are a part of nature. Along with all other living beings and non-living things, we are nature. And if we are out of sorts with the rest of nature, if we are displaced from harmony with the creation of which we are such an integral part, if we are sinning against the natural world from which we ourselves have emerged, then we cannot fully find our bearings or our place.

If God created the world as a place in relation to which human life is inextricably woven, then we need to make the whole natural world an integral and important part of our worshipping experience. If worship is restoring ourselves to our proper place in the world—to recall who we are, where we have come from, the things upon which we depend, and that for which we are responsible—then worship must be a celebration of all life and an orienting of ourselves to our proper place within it. Nature can and should be such a fundamental dimension of the Christian life that we reflect the triad: Love God, Love your neighbor as yourself, and Care for creation.

Worshiping with Nature. To be fully into right relationship, we are called not only to restore our relationship with nature, but also to experience our solidarity with nature in relationship with God. That is, we humans are to worship and praise God with nature. Remember that the Psalms call for the hills to clap their hands and the trees to shout praises, along with animals and sea creatures, the seas and the soils, the trees and the grain—thus calling: “All creation, praise the Lord.” Hence, we can think about nature as our partners in worship. Nature itself is part of our worshipping community. It is important then that we are both in nature and with nature in our worship.

Worship as Counter-CulturalRestoration to relationship with God, others, and nature is not the same as accommodation or assimilation into the society and culture around us. In fact, it may be quite the opposite. Reconciled relationships with God will orient us to values, actions, and structures that may go against the grain of the world around us. Reconciled relationships will place us in an alternative community that reflects the vision of God for human life. Reconciled relationships with others may set us at odds with the injustices, oppressions, neglect, and discrimination of groups and individuals not sharing the values of the church. Similarly, reorienting ourselves to love of nature and care for creation may lead us to resist and oppose the practices of local and national government, businesses, corporations, and others who may contribute to the flagrant degradations of Earth’s natural systems and life. Worship can be quite radical in its call for discipleship. Worship can be subversive of the culture and an expression of counter-cultural thinking and acting. It can lead us to advocate for public policies and laws that foster love of neighbor and care for creation. At the same time, our re-orientation in worship may lead us to affirm many movements and actions in the culture that further the values and behavior fostered by our Christian way of being in the world.