Season of Creation: Suggestions for its Celebration

A Season of Creation

 

This is an invitation for congregations to celebrate a Season of Creation in the liturgical church year. The church year is organized primarily on the life of Jesus and the life of discipleship. Clearly we worship God as source of all things, Christ as the redeemer of all things, and the Spirit as sustainer of all things. Nevertheless, the focus on Jesus and the Christian life in the lectionary system may not give adequate opportunity to focus on God the creator, the biblical call to worship with all creation, and the biblical mandate to care for creation. A Season of Creation is an opportunity for congregations who so choose to take time in the church year to focus their celebration on God the creator, Christ as the redeemer of creation, and the Spirit as sustainer of creation—to worship God along with all creation (as the Psalms enjoin), and to express gratitude, love, and a commitment to care for all living things on earth.

Given the importance of creation in the life of Christians and the current ecological threats to human and non-human life on this earth, many of us believe it is time to provide a focus on this dimension of our Christian life and to do so at the very center of our life together, namely, in worship. A Season of Creation is one way to do this. For further reflections, please consult several sites:    www.letallcreationpraise.org,     www.seasonofcreation.com, and www.webofcreation.org.

 

About the Season of Creation

● Concern for creation may be celebrated in the lectionary choices throughout the year. Clearly, creation themes are present in many texts throughout the year. And we encourage this. There are also special days to celebrate creation, such as Rogation Day. There are now two web sites that offer “care for creation” notes on the lessons for the three-year cycle.

● The idea for a Season of Creation is not new. The idea has been proposed in past centuries as a modification of the church year and as an alternative option within the lectionary system. There have been movements in recent years to celebrate a season of creation in the church year of the Episcopal and the Anglican communities.

● Celebrating a Season of Creation is voluntary. It is the choice of individual congregations to choose to do all or some of the suggested Sundays in a Season of Creation.

● A Season of Creation is not meant to introduce a secular or political agenda into our worship life. We believe so strongly that creation along with the human responsibility to worship with creation and to care for creation is first and foremost a religious issue—with many crucial personal, social, and political implications. The biblical mandate to care for creation is so strong that it is a fundamental part of our human vocation before God. It is a mandate we can all embrace as Christians.

● A Season of Creation does not introduce thematic worship into a lectionary system. In a sense, every Sunday in the church year has a theme running through the lessons of each season (for example, the temptations of Jesus in the First Sunday in Lent). The focus for each Sunday in the Season of Creation follows in this tradition. It simply names the theme of that Sunday in the season.

● A Season of Creation is not designed to detract in any way from our responsibility for love our neighbor. Instead, it is hoped that care for all creation will deepen our responsibility to do justice on behalf of our fellow human beings with the recognition that such justice is bound up inextricably with ecological degradation as well. Hopefully, the present lectionary focus on the life of Jesus and on Christian life in the Spirit, along with the Season of Creation, will lead us to deal with issues such as racism and poverty. A focus on creation will address these issues in the context of a concern for the ecological state of God’s creation.

 

Suggestions for Use

The materials for the Season of Creation may be used with great flexibility. They offer resources for four Sundays in the church year—suggested lectionary lessons for the season, worship guidelines, liturgies for each of the four Sundays, ideas for sermons and children’s lessons, spiritual insights, and a theology for celebrating God the Creator.

● These resources may be used as an alternative option for four successive Sundays in the church year. Our suggestion is that they be used for the four weeks in September (during the lengthy Season of Pentecost) leading up to World Communion Sunday and the celebration of the day commemorating the life of Saint Francis (October 4). For a suggested service for the Blessing of the Animals (a common service for Saint Francis Day), see “worship” in the Green Congregation Program at www.webofcreation.org.

● We encourage you to use these materials in ways that best suit your context. We are field-testing these materials in the three-year cycle. Because we are experimenting with them, we encourage you to do the same.

● You may want to choose other Sundays on which you celebrate the season, say in July or on overlapping Sundays in September and October. You may find that only two Sundays or even one Sunday works best for your situation. You may want to use one of the suggested liturgies on Rogation Sunday.

● The liturgies are offered for your use in whole or in part. You may wish to edit the liturgies to your context. You may want to incorporate pieces of the suggested liturgies into your standard service, such as the lectionary lessons, the prayers, the confession, a litany, and so on. We encourage congregations to consider using the liturgies as they stand. At the same time, we want you to be flexible in adapting the materials for your use.

● We also encourage you to use the opportunity of these Sunday worship services to stimulate the commitment of your congregation to care for creation. Draw upon the spiritual resources to encourage a deeper relationship with nature on the part of members. Hold adult forums led by local experts or study the Social Statement on Caring for Creation from your denomination. Identify the folks in your congregation who may be interested in forming an Earth Ministry Committee. Choose to do a project that involves people directly in creation-care. Consult the resources in the Green Congregation Program at the Web of Creation (www.webofcreation.org).  Seee there also links to many faith-based Web sites that have resources for Earth-care projects.

 

 
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