Category Archives: Worship Samples

Worshiping with Creation

We have traditionally done worship focusing on our human relationship with God and our human relationships with each other. Now we need to fill our worship also with elements of God’s relationship with all of creation and with our human relationship with creation (and with God in creation). Here are some suggestions for how to integrate creation fully into your worship–all worship services. The idea is to include appropriate references to creation at the beginning, middle, and end of each service, along with other references throughout. Incorporate some of these changes on a regular basis, and those who worship will be much more aware of their relationship with God the creator and of their own relationship with nature.
Key moments for every worship service

Invocation/invitation:
Develop standard openings or vary it each week. Include it as a formal or an informal component of worship

Invoke the presence of the God of all creation. “We call upon the God of all creation to be present this day.” “We invoke the presence of God who created . . [ here  you may list diverse domains of creation such as mountains, rivers, sky, forest or you may list specific creatures and places].

Invitation: Invite all creation to worship or invite humans to join the choir of all creation in praise of God. You may be concrete by inviting domains or even the plants and animals on your church grounds or in your geographical region.

Confession:
Include at least one statement of confession that addresses our degradation and misuse of creation.

Introduction to scripture readings and the Psalm:
In the preface to scripture, encourage people to note the elements of the lessons that relate to nature as a whole.

Prayer Introduction:
Indicate in the preface to the prayers that you are including prayers “for all creation.”

Prayers:
Include at least one prayer of Thanksgiving for creation and a petition on behalf of the natural world (recent disaster, endangered species, people at risk from environment). Be specific about land and waterways in your area.

Closing:
Commission people to “Go in peace. Serve the Lord, Remember the poor. Care for creation.” Or “Tend the Earth.”

Other opportunities:
Introduction: If there is an introduction to the focus of the season and the Sunday at the beginning of the service, connect this to creation.
Hymns:
        Keep in mind hymns with reference to the natural world.
Scripture readings:
        Take the opportunity to note references to God the creator and to the presence of the nature in the biblical world.
Psalm:
        Often the psalm is a source of celebration of God the creator and the natural world.
Preaching:
        Proclaim the good news of God’s creation. Give examples and challenges that include our relationship with nature.
Sacraments:
        Make connections for people to the natural elements of grapes, grain, and water bearing the presence of Christ.

Season of Creation: Focusing Worship on God as Creator

We offer creation focused commentaries for every week and lectionary cycle, but what about taking a step back and spend a whole season focused on God the Creator? The Season of Creation started in the 1990’s and has multiple expressions.  It is typically celebrated from the beginning of September until October 4th (St. Francis of Assisi Day).  For a specifically Lutheran take, check out this reading .  For a variety of ways to bring this to your church peruse the options below.  If you decide to recognize this season on your ELCA congregation please let us know so we can learn from your experience!
For resources from our ecumenical sister site, LetAllCreationPraise.org :

Ecumenical resources for the Season of Creation – Also Spanish translations!

Find some materials to watch/share with your council to describe the Season of Creation and how it is critical to our faith journey: Explore our YouTube Channel’s (see playlists). 

The Catholic Climate Covenant has a global perspective with inspirational events across the globe:  seasonofcreation.org

Environmental Stewardship

by John Berge
Member of Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church in Racine, WI.

“Tell the truth. Give no false hope

Tell it like it is.

Tell the truth about the ecological state of the world. How easily we can give false hope by our silence or by minimizing the threats to our environment.

If we do not see the size of the problem, we will not see the size of the response required.

Then speak the truth of the Gospel.

The Bishop says, ‘So discipline yourself in life and teaching that you preserve the truth, giving no occasion for false security or illusory hope.'”

—From the ELCA Ordination Service, Bishop’s address to the newly ordained.

Here are the reflections of an ELCA layperson who tells it like it is in an article for his congregational newsletter for January, 2014.

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
by John Berge
Member of Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church in Racine, WI.

While Wisconsin and the upper midwest was cooler than normal in 2014, this was an anomaly and the rest of the world appears to be heading to a record high in global temperatures. Unless December is much cooler around the world, 2014 will be the warmest since records have been kept and probably the warmest since the start of the industrial revolution. And as you may have noticed in the news, as predicted in virtually every computer model, storms are getting more severe due to global warming or climate change, whichever term you prefer.

Climate scientists outside the fossil fuel industry are in general agreement that climate change is a direct result of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the increase is caused by humans burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. Reducing our use of fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline, natural gas has been much discussed both here and elsewhere. It is good environmental stewardship to reduce the miles we drive, drive vehicles with better gas mileage, turn down the thermostat, push for and install wind and solar power, etc. It is unfortunate that Wisconsin’s Transportation Department and Public Service Commission both are advocating penalties to those of us who try to be better stewards.

But CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas that is causing climate change; there are other “co-conspirators” in global warming which we as individuals may be able to help reduce. Many are short-lived in the atmosphere, and so will give a quick response.

Methane is 40 times as effective a greenhouse gas than CO2 and comes from a variety of human activity sources. Fracking which has greatly increased the drilling for both oil and natural gas releases (or spills) methane into the atmosphere. Reducing our thirst for fossil fuels will reduce the amount of fracing and the release of greenhouse gases in at least two ways. Other major sources include cows, truly great producers of methane from both ends. Our taste for beef drives this industry. Wastewater treatment plants produce a lot of methane and I have advocated with the Director to capture this byproduct for co-generation which could produce enough electricity and heat to run the plant without further fossil fuel use. Methane from landfills is being used to generate electricity and heat by the power company and local industry.

“Black carbon” is essentially soot from poorly tuned engines (mostly diesel trucks and buses but some cars, too) but also arises from wood burning stoves, bonfires, fireplaces and such. These amenities are things we can control and reduce. Unfortunately, the role of black carbon is not generally agreed upon and its reduction may in some cases hinder rather than help.

Hydrofluorocarbons, frequently and not always accurately referred to by the trademark Freon™, are capable of absorbing as much as 100 times the heat energy as carbon dioxide per molecule. Fortunately, so far there is not a large amount in the atmosphere. Since HFCs are used in a number of household appliances, we can be good stewards by making sure that we have no leaks in this equipment, having them fixed quickly by a competent professional, and disposing of old or defective equipment properly. HFCs are probably the coolant in your refrigerator, freezer, air conditioner and dehumidifier – some households have more than one of some of these. Do you have more than you need? Do you want to dispose of one or more? First of all, they DO NOT GO OUT IN THE TRASH. Anything containing HFCs should be properly drained by a professional who will collect and either reuse or properly dispose of the HFC. There are companies in the Racine area that will do this service, usually for a small fee, but postal regulations prevent me from including their names in this newsletter. If you are replacing a device which uses HFCs, the dealer will often take the old one off your hands and dispose of it properly. As in everything, look to the environmental consequence before you act. Everything we do can make a difference.

Endangered Species Day – May 18, 2018

Creation Justice Ministries has a toolkit to help your faith community celebrate Endangered Species Day and accompanying faith-based resources.

If you can donate to cover postage, they will send you copies of this bulletin insert in the mail. Send your request to info@creationjustice.org  (while supplies last.)