World Environment Day – June 5th

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World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5 June. First proclaimed in 1972, the day has grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

Each year World Environment Day highlights in its theme one important environmental issue.

The Uniting Church in Australia prepared a resource for World Environment Day 2016, Together for a world made whole. The resource made available through Uniting Justice can be downloaded at the link, or COCU.UJA_World_Environment_Day_2016. It has reflections from the Asia-Pacific context.

WED aims to inspire more people than ever before to take action to prevent the growing strain on planet Earth’s natural systems from reaching breaking point. The 2016 theme is the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife, which erodes precious biodiversity and threatens the survival of elephants, rhinos and tigers as well as many other species. It also undermines our economies, communities and security. The 2016 slogan is “Go Wild for Life” and encourages people to spread the word about wildlife crime and the damage it does, and to challenge all those around you to do what they can to prevent it.

Sri Lanka becomes 16th country to destroy confiscated ivory – and first country to apologise to its elephants. Recommended reading. Prayers for elephants in Thailand.

More than 60% of Africa’s forest elephants have been killed in the past decade due to the ivory trade.

Illegal wildlife trade is a wrong that must be corrected.

Etihad has signed an agreement to help end the illegal trade in wildlife.

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Uniting Justice liturgical resources for World Environment Day 2015 (downloadable resource link at end of blurb on Uniting Jusice website). The 2014 resources are here.

William (Bill) Wallace (New Zealand) has prepared a ‘mass of the universe‘ which could be considered for World Environment Day. He has generously uploaded the text, MP3 files, music scores etc, and is complete in itself. Worth checking out.

There may be resources in Seasons of Creation that could be helpful for planning too.

Presbyterian Church USA – Caring for Earth’s Creatures (download)

Celebrating the Earth
v1 We light and put in place this candle for the land, sea and sky.
A green candle is put in place and lit

v2 We remember the richness of Planet Earth:
mountains unfolding to desert and plain,
seas swaying to the rhythm of tides,
skies reflecting the colours of light.

v3 We place this green cloth for the creatures of Earth.
A large green cloth is placed near/around the candle

v2 We remember creatures of land, air and sea:
horses running for the joy of living,
parrots chatting on roofs and branches,
dolphins leaping from sea to sky.

v4 We place these leaves for the fruits of Earth.
A branch of green leaves is put beside the candle

v2 We remember fruits of the land:
grasses bursting with nourishing grain,
flowers exuding colour and fragrance,
trees renewing the sweetness of air.

v5 We put this book in place for humanity.
A collection of sayings and poems is put on the green cloth near the candle

v2 We remember all sages and prophets:
through them recalling the power of love;
through them reclaiming a spirit of compassion;
through them embracing Earth and each other.
(Adapt.PCNV Earth Liturgy)

Prayer for World Environment Day
Creator God,
breath and source of life,
in love you called the world into being
and in grace you made us and call us your children.

We stand in awe of the wonder of your creation:
its beauty and wildness;
complexity and power;
resilience and fragility.

God of life,
you call us to be participants in the web and
wellspring of life:
to be nurtured by the planet;
to be nurturing of the planet;
to cherish the world and all that lives.
But we have failed and creation groans under our weight.

God of grace,
forgive us in our brokenness:
when we have taken too much from the earth;
when we have not spoken out
against greed and destruction;
when we have allowed our most vulnerable neighbours
to be harmed.
We seek courage and forgiveness to be made whole.

God of love,
we pray for those people, communities and nations
already suffering the devastating effects of climate change;
and we pray for the diversity of life on earth,
so much of it already threatened by our actions.

God of hope,
we pray for the world’s leaders
Bless them with wisdom and creativity,
and a shared vision of hope for all creation.
May they find the determination
to take strong action against climate change,
and the political will to act together for the common good.

Creator God,
we pray for us all,
that we might restore our relationships with each other
and work together to heal the earth.

Renew us in your grace
for the sake of your creation. Amen.
(Source: Uniting Justice World Environment Day 2016 resources)

‘ENVIRONMENT’ AS MORE THAN SUN, SAND, AND SURF
(posted on Rex AE Hunt’s website, with further reflection on this theme)
It was Christmas Eve in December 1968.
Apollo 8 was orbiting the moon, the American astronauts
busy photographing possible landing sites
for the missions that would follow.

“On the fourth orbit, Commander Frank Borman decided to roll the craft away from the moon and tilt its windows toward the horizon – he needed a navigational fix. What he got, instead, was a sudden view of the earth, rising. “Oh my God,” he said. “Here’s the earth coming up.” Crew member Bill Anders grabbed a camera and took the photograph that became the iconic image perhaps of all time” (McKibben 2010:2).

The space agency NASA gave the image the code name AS8-14-2383
But we now know it as “Earthrise”, a picture
“of a blue-and-white marble floating amid the vast backdrop of space, set against the barren edge of the lifeless moon” (McKibben 2010:2).

This image, along with another of Earth from space,
called “Blue Marble”, and taken by crew on board Apollo 17 four years later,
has appeared in TV mini-series,
scientific publications and school text books,
on greeting cards, a postage stamp, and advertising posters,
not to mention having their own pages on Wikipedia!

As the other Apollo 8 Crew member, Jim Lovell, put it:
“the earth… suddenly appeared as ‘a grand oasis’” (McKibben 2010:2).

But author and environmental activist Bill McKibben has pointed out:
“…we no longer live on that planet” (McKibben 2010:2).

Not that the world has ended.
It hasn’t. You and I are still here – south east of the Wallace Line.
Earth is still a fragile web of interconnected and
interdependent forces and domains of existence.

It is still the third rock out from the sun,
located in a galaxy called the ‘Milky Way”,
“three-quarters water. Gravity still pertains; we’re still earthlike” (McKibben 2010:2).

What has ended is the world as we thought we knew it.
That ‘grand oasis’ has changed in profound ways.

“We imagine we still live back on that old planet”, says McKibben,
“that the disturbances we see around us are the old random and freakish kind. But they are not. It’s a different place. A different planet. It needs a new name” (McKibben 2010:2).

That ‘different planet’ has been brought about by global warming.
The sudden surge in both greenhouse gases and global temperatures.
And “a series of ominous feedback effects” (McKibben 2010:20).

UnitingJustice: a collection of resources for worship and education.

Also, the National Assembly website has a collection of resources (scroll down to the section on living sustainably).

PDF worship resources liturgicalresources2011PDF

Word version of worship resources worshipresources2011.word

Some extra resources: Interconnection

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.

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