Tag Archives: worship

Blessing of All the Animals: A Sermon

By David Rhoads

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. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the sea, and let birds multiply on the earth. . . . And God said, “Let the earth bring forth 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 (Gen. 1: 20-25).

And Jesus said to them,“Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15 from the longer ending).

. . . . through him [Jesus] God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Col. 1:20)

First, I want to address you varieties of dogs and cats and other creatures who are here today. And I want to speak with you fish and ferrets and hamsters and parakeets and snakes brought here today by your human companions. You are here for your own sake, and you also represent all those who are not here today, animals of every kind—cattle and goats and horses and elephants and bees and cougars and crocodiles and puffer fish and eels and insects—so many we cannot name them all.

I want to announce the good news to all you creatures. I want you to know that God loves you. God loves you for your own sake—and not because of what you can do for humans.

You are good in yourselves. The good book tells us that when God created you—fish of the sea and birds of the air and creatures of the land—God looked at all God had created, and God saw that “indeed, it was very good!” (Gen. 1:12, 18, 21, 25, 31)

When God created you, God blessed you. God told you to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”(Gen. 1:28). God created you in huge swarms and in great diversity. God wants all of you to survive and to thrive on Earth.

God created the world for you, so that you have what you need to live. The psalmist tells us that God made the rain to water the trees, the trees for you birds to nest, the grass for you cattle to graze, and the crags as a refuge for you mountain goats (Ps. 104:14-24). God wants you to receive your “food in due season” and to be“filled with good things” (Ps. 104: 27-28).

The Bible tells us that when the flood came, God rescued each of your species through Noah in the ark. And God made a covenant with you fish of the sea and birds of the air and domestic animals and all animals on Earth to protect you for the future (Gen. 9:8-17). God made the first “endangered species act.”

Just like us, you are called to worship God. The hills are to clap their hands. The fields are to exalt (Ps. 148). You cattle and dogs and cats are to praise God by being who you are and exalting in it. John the seer had a vision in which he heard the entire creation—everything in heaven, on the earth, under the earth and in the sea—cry out in praise: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to our God and to the lamb forever and ever” (Rev. 5:13).

We human animals need to confess to you that we have systematically mistreated you, depleted your numbers, destroyed you, slaughtered you, crowded you out, neglected you, dealt with you as commodities in our quest for comfort and ease. We have not seen you as God’s creatures. We have not shown proper reverence or respect. Against God’s will, we have not set limits upon ourselves so that you might live and thrive. What we have done! We are sorry!

You who are here today are so fortunate because you have human companions who care for you. But so many of your cousins are threatened with extinction—snow leopards and timber wolves and green sea turtles and condors and paddlefish and fin whales among so many others. We humans may so crowd out or deplete these kin of yours that not a single one of them will ever again exist on Earth.

When we destroy you and diminish you in these ways, we not only compromise your ability to survive, we also stifle your capacity to praise God. Along with all creation, you are groaning in labor pains, waiting for the revelation of children of God who will care for creation and make provisions for you to thrive (Rom. 8:19-23).

Now I want to address you human creaturesI want to announce the good news to you also. God loves you. God loves you for your own sake and wants you to thrive. When God made you; God saw that this too was good.

God said also to you: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth” (Gen. 1:28) Yet we have already done this! So we need to find ways to limit the impact of our species, because God did not mean for us to crowd out the rights of other creatures to be fruitful and multiply also. In developed countries, we have become like an infestation—taking over land and destroying habitats and devouring species and infiltrating homes and migratory routes of so many other animals—and we need to learn our limits and exercise restraint.

God even created us humans with a special responsibility—to exercise dominion (Gen. 1:28). This does not mean that we are to exercise domination over other creatures or to exploit them for human mis-use. Rather, we are to delight in other creatures, as God does, and respect and care for them. Our love for creation is the only basis for our right use of creation. We are to exercise dominion as servants of creation. As Jesus has said, we are not to lord over anyone, but be as slaves to all (Mark 10:42-45). We are to take responsibility for all creatures, to serve their needs, and to work to preserve them (Gen. 2:15).

And we are to do this not with a sense of superiority but in solidarity with all other creatures. We were created to be together, to be companions to one another, to thrive all together. All animals are our cousins, our kin. And God made a covenant with us and with all other animals together. Admit it, we humans are also animals, primate mammals.

And Jesus was a mammal. Jesus was born and lived in solidarity with all of life. Jesus lived to care about all who were oppressed and made vulnerable and marginalized by society; and right now that includes most creatures, not just humans. Jesus died in order that God might reconcile to God’s self all things in creation (Col. 1:20).

In response to God’s love, we are freed to behave in ways that enable all of life to thrive together. You do not need to prove anything. You can set limits on yourselves. You can simplify your lifestyle so that others may survive and thrive. You can become aware the effects of your actions on other creatures and curtail your activity. You can act to establish and restore safe homes and habitats for those animals that are endangered.

Now I want to address all of you creatures together. I had this vision in a dream during sleep at night. I was in the front row of a cathedral looking at the scene before me during a service of communion. I saw the priest passing bread to the first person kneeling at the communion railing. As I looked, the next figure at the railing was a snake! It was curled at the bottom with its back arching up over the rail and with head straining forward to receive the grace of Christ. The next figure was another person. Next was a raccoon with paws up on the communion rail leaning forward to receive the grace of Christ. Then I saw a bird perched on the corner of the railing eating bread crumbs.

As I finished surveying this scene in my dream, suddenly the side walls of the cathedral fell away and outside was thick foliage of forest and jungle on each side with all manner of wild animals roaming around. In this moment, it seemed as if walls of separation had been removed and there was a seamless web of all creation praising God and exalting in the grace of Christ.

From the time I awoke from that dream until this day, I have never been able to think of worship in the same way again. I now see all of Earth as the sanctuary in which we worship, and I see myself invoking and confessing and giving thanks and praising God and offering myself in solidarity with all of life. May that vision also be your vision.

You who are here today are very fortunate because you and have a relationship of love and care and loyalty between yourself and your human or your pet companion. You model how all relationships between humans and other animals should be. We wish to project this relationship as the model for our human relationship with all animals. May we care about all animals as we care for our companions at home.

I invite you all to come forward for a blessing. Sometimes when we have a service for the Blessing of the Animals, we bless only the non-human animals, as if we ourselves are not also animals. Therefore, as an expression of solidarity with each other, I invite all of you—non-human animals and human animals alike—to come for a blessing together. We bless you as companions together and we bless your relationship:

“May God bless each of you with health and safety and well-being and long life. And may God bless your relationship together so that it may be filled with love and joy.”

 

 

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.

 

Sing Out! Celebrating with Creation: Songs in Support of Ongoing Earth-Care 

Sing Out! Songs written to known melodies, for use in association with the Eco-Reformation, the Season of Creation, or occasions for celebration with creation. Click here to download “Celebrating with Creation: Songs in Support of the Eco-Reformation in 2017 & Ongoing Earth-Care” by Norman C. Habel.  

St. Andrew’s Environmental Stewardship Team: Nine Years Old and Still Going Strong!

The Environmental Stewardship Team (EST) at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, MN (a congregation of some 6,000 people on a campus of three sizable buildings) was founded nine years ago.

Jim Malkowski, a retired naturalist who started a large nature/environmental center and served 21 years as CEO of two centers, is co-founder of the group and was its chairman until recently.  He reports on the work of EST:

“A few of our achievements over the years have been co-sponsoring a wind generator on a co-campus with a high school, converting our 3 buildings to all LED lighting, an annual week-end devoted to a church-wide environmental messaging (called “Caring for Creation Weekend” – “C4C Weekend”)  including exhibits, music, literature and a sermon.  

“We have met monthly for nine years, formulated on-going 3-Year Planning Projections integrated into the church’s 10-Year Plans, and recently applied a $10,000 grant into a comprehensive recycling/composting program.  We are now in our second year working toward solar energy for St. Andrews, conducting walk-through planning estimates from contractors.  So, it’s been an active nine years.

“While we have the basic support of pastors’ leadership, we have yet to achieve comprehensive support to declare our church as a “Green Congregation,” a goal we continue to calculatingly pursue, vis-a-vis the Lutherans Restoring Creation Manuals. As the church’s EST, we are on the verge of much more fully integrating our work into the full mainstream of this Church’s worship and outreach.  Truly, it is a “Lutherans Restoring Creation” movement.”

See the webpage for the St. Andrews Environmental Stewardship Team, and download the EST brochure here.

 

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

Sacraments and Creation

The sacraments are occasions to reflect on human relationships with the rest of creation. Different Christian communities recognize different sacraments. We will reflect here on the two most common sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The presence of an element of nature and the pronouncement of a word in relation to the offer of the element of nature assure us that the reality of Christ/God will be present in, with, and under the elements and the whole event, so that they are sacramental—capable of bearing the holiness and grace of God into our lives so as to transform us.

We often focus on the symbolic meaning of the elements used in sacraments: water, bread, and wine. But in the context of our concern for the environment, we can focus on the elements themselves.

Notice how the status of grapes and grain and water as vehicles of the divine can in turn serve to give meaning to and to enhance our experience of these tangible realities of life for their own sake. For example, as a Eucharist or “thanksgiving,” Holy Communion can be an opportunity to express gratitude for all the natural order that sustains life at a material (and a spiritual) level, leading us to delight anew in the creation. To see the natural elements of both sacraments—water, grain, and grapes—as vehicles of grace is to realize that the finite can indeed bear of the infinite to us. This in itself elevates the goodness of nature as worthy and capable of being the means by which we establish a relationship with God and by which God establishes a relationship with us.

Baptism. Traditionally, baptism involves water for cleansing and for judgment or it symbolizes death and resurrection. However, what about also exploring the richness of the symbol of water in new ways in light of our contemporary knowledge and experience of water? We now know that water is the primordial context out of which life emerged and evolved to its present state. Why not connect this with the new creation at baptism? If baptism symbolizes a new beginning to life, then we can reflect on the new beginning to humanity that comes by immersing ourselves in water—so that we can, in a sense, re-emerge from water as a renewed humanity or as renewed life in all its manifestations—and in solidarity with all the life forms that led to human evolution.

Or could we not emphasize how vital water is to life—how our bodies are 90% water and we cannot live long without it? In this way, the water of life in baptism reinforces our gratitude for the water upon which we depend for life and health. Or baptism may remind us of how tragic it is to consider being baptized by water that is polluted rather than the pure living water that God created. Such a connection could lead us to see anew our vocation as baptized people to preserve clean water on the Earth. Or by baptism in water, we may acknowledge how much of the whole earth is comprised of water. In this way, the very fact that we are declared a child of God by immersion into nature itself can serve to get us in touch with our em-beddedness in nature as human beings. In all these ways we may re-connect the water of baptism to the water around us in nature.

The Lord’s Supper. The sacrament of Holy Communion is another opportunity to realize how integral is our human em-beddedness in nature. In the Eucharist, we are using natural fruits of Earth as a vehicle for God’s presence: wine from grapes and bread from grain. But it is more than that. Grapes grow from the vine that brings it forth, the ingredients of the soil, the water that nourishes the soil, the beetles that aerate the soil, the sun that shines on the plants, the air that surrounds the plant—and the composition and the combination of these elements is unique to the particular area or region where the grapes are being raised. Add to these factors the wood from the trees used to make the barrels in which the wine was stored and the ingredients employed as fermenting agents. We can reflect in a similar way on the bread used for communion. Some congregations use organically-grown, whole grain bread. Some congregations use bread made of multiple grains originating from several continents. In these ways, the elements of the Eucharist get us in touch with all of nature.

In addition, the Eucharist is connected to all of life in another way. It is a reminder of the death of Jesus, a recollection that all of life is a cycle of living and dying and resurrection. This is not to reduce the particularity of Christ’s death or the efficacy of it for salvation to the processes of nature. Rather, it is simply to recognize that the death of Jesus is an analog to the natural order in which death gives birth to life. The deaths of trees and other plants and the death of animals over the life span of the planet have made the earth into a great store of energy and one great compost heap that is the source of life and energy today.

The Sacramental Presence of God/Christ everywhere. Finally, it is important to observe that the elements of the sacraments are “common” elements of life—elements of food upon which we depend for life—assuring us that if God can be present in and through such common elements as bread and wine, then surely God is present to us everywhere in life. What difference does it make to our view of the daily food we eat and the daily drinks we drink knowing that bread and wine are sacramental? What difference does it make to our experience of water and soil and air, knowing that water is sacramental? The Eucharist is meant not only to lead us to experience the particularity of its symbolic meaning in the communion meal. It also leads us to think differently about all common elements of life—in such a way that our common experiences of them also become sacramental. That is, all elements of nature may convey for us the grace of God, that dearest freshness that lies deep down all things. As Martin Luther wrote, “God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

When we see all of life as sacramental, it changes our relationship to and our responsibility for creation—concern for pure water, our desire not to waste food, the problems with pesticides on grain and grapes, and a host of other ecological problems to which humans have contributed. We re-dedicate ourselves in worship to stop our actions that degrade nature and to find ways to restore God’s creation.

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.

Season of Creation Commentary Archive (Years A, B, and C)

The First Sunday in the Season of Creation in Year B: Planet Earth Sunday (by Rob Saler) “Creation bears enduring testimony to God’s goodness.”
 
The Second Sunday in the Season of Creation in Year B: Humanity Sunday (by Rob Saler). “We are most fully human when we care for creation with humility.”
 
The Third Sunday in the Season of Creation in Year B: Sky Sunday (by Rob Saler) Scripture enjoins us to care for earth, sky, and sea as “the commons” we share together.
 
The Fourth Sunday in the Season of Creation in Year B: Mountain Sunday (by Rob Saler) Scripture changes how we view mountains. 
 
The Season of Creation in Year B: Saint Francis Sunday (by Rob Saler) Jesus and St. Frances showed deep tenderness towards creation and passionate advocacy against injustice.
 
YEAR C
 
Commentary on lessons for the Season of Creation in Year C (by Leah Schade)
The First Sunday in the Season of Creation in Year C: Ocean Sunday.  Wisdom teaches that what God has gathered up in Christ, we humans should make healthy, free from toxins, cleaned of trash, and restored to abundance.
The Second Sunday in the Season of Creation in Year C: Fauna Sunday. Wisdom leads us to change our relationships with our animal brothers and sisters in God’s creation.
The Third Sunday in the Season of Creation in Year C: Storm Sunday. Finding the peace of God in the storm, we are called wake up to the storms we have created.
The Fourth Sunday in the Season of Creation in Year C: Universe Sunday. There is one Wisdom, one Beauty, one Mind that flows through the universe.
For additional resources for the Season of Creation visit www.letallcreationpraise.org.

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.

Luther College Ministries and Dakota Road Music Offer Liturgy for Earthkeeping

A core mission of Lutheran higher education is the integration of faith and learning in service of the common good. In that spirit a liturgy for the broader church was commissioned in honor of Luther’s sesquicentennial. It is a collaborative project between Dakota Road Music and Luther College Ministries. The Liturgy for Earthkeeping is being offered as a resource for congregations and ministries that worship in outdoor settings to help strengthen connections between sustainability, liturgy, spiritual formation and joyful stewardship.

https://dakotaroad.com/songbooks-liturgies

Water and Ecotheology: Articles by Benjamin Stewart

Our Watershed Moment, a toolkit from the EcoFaith Network of the Minneapolis Synod

Our Watershed Momenta toolkit from the EcoFaith Network of the Minneapolis Synod, introduces the concept of a watershed and includes resources for theological reflection, worship, youth, education, advocacy, and water stewardship in the home.

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

Reflection for Good Friday

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, Jesus said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”  — John 19:28
On Good Friday the youth of United in Christ, Lewisburg, PA, designed a service of darkness focused on the seven last words of Christ. The youth worked in pairs on their sermons which they preached in a dialogical style. This sermon was written by two middle school youth from an ecological perspective, focusing on the need for clean water.

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.)

Congregational Covenant and Organizing Kit

What can you do? 

AFFIRM: Personally, with your church council, or entire synod, review our ELCA’s 1993 call to action and commit to engaging in steps to live into that calling.  Sign and submit the Covenant with Creation to be part of our accountability and celebration network.

ACT TOGETHER:  Reach out to all church members and share the ideas listed specifically for the area/committee they already work on: Action Plan Ideas.  Goals without specific people and dates may remain elusive. Use this form and our ELCA network to help make a path.

Use the online version of the Organizing Kit to the right or download the pdf here: Congregational Self-Organizing Kit

NOTE: We often make updates in the resources and connections. Please refer back online often and let us know if you have any suggestions!

 

17 Ways to be an EcoPreacher

by Rev. Dr. Leah Schade

Here are 17 ideas excerpted from my book Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015) for helping make this vision for your preaching become a reality:

  • Imagine what your life would be like if you could be part of God’s work to heal this planet – right from the pulpit.
  • Imagine if your parishioners were inspired by your preaching to address the most pressing environmental concerns of our time.
  • Imagine hearing your parishioners actually thank you for preaching about protecting our planet.
  • Imagine discovering a new dimension to your preaching that opens a whole new world of perspectives, creative ideas, and inspiration for reaching people with God’s Word.
  • Imagine finding a whole new perspective for engaging the Bible that deepens and expands your faith. [Read more…]