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.
More than 60% of Africa’s forest elephants have been killed in the past decade due to the ivory trade.
Etihad has signed an agreement to help end the illegal trade in wildlife.
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)religion is on the decline in America as many people leave behind traditional religious practices. Diana Butler Bass, leading commentator on religion, politics, and culture, argues that what appears to be a decline actually signals a major transformation in how people understand and experience God. The distant God of conventional religion has given way to a more intimate sense of the sacred that is with us in the world. This shift, from a vertical understanding of God to a God found on the horizons of nature and human community, is at the heart of a spiritual revolution that surrounds us — and that is challenging not only religious institutions but political and social ones as well.
Bass unpacks how people are finding new spiritual ground by discovering and embracing God everywhere in the world around us—in the soil, the water, the sky, in our homes and neighborhoods, and in the global commons. Faith is no longer a matter of mountaintop experience or institutional practice; instead, people are connecting with God through the environment in which we live. Grounded guides readers through our contemporary spiritual habitat as it points out and pays attention to the ways in which people experience a God who animates creation and community.
Diana Butler Bass, leading commentator on religion, politics, and culture, argues that what appears to be a decline actually signals a major transformation in how people understand and experience God. The distant God of conventional religion has given way to a more intimate sense of the sacred that is with us in the world. This shift, from a vertical understanding of God to a God found on the horizons of nature and human community, is at the heart of a spiritual revolution that surrounds us – and that is challenging not only religious institutions but political and social ones as well. Bass unpacks how people are finding new spiritual ground by discovering and embracing God everywhere in the world around us – in the soil, the water, the sky, in our homes and neighborhoods, and in the global commons. Faith is no longer a matter of mountaintop experience or institutional practice; instead, people are connecting with God through the environment in which we live. Grounded guides readers through our contemporary spiritual habitat as it points out and pays attention to the ways in which people experience a God who animates creation and community. (Source: News)
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)
God of grace,
together we turn to you in prayer,
for it is you who unite us:
you are the one God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit –
in whom we believe,
you alone empower us for good,
you send us out across the earth
in mission and service in the name of Christ.
We confess before you and all people:
We have been unworthy servants.
We have misused and abused the creation.
We have wounded one another by divisions everywhere.
We have often failed to take decisive action
against environmental destruction, poverty, racism,
caste-ism, war and genocide.
We are not only victims but also perpetrators of violence.
In all this, we have fallen short as disciples of Jesus Christ
who in his incarnation came to save us and teach us how to love.
Forgive us, God, and teach us to forgive one another.
God, in your grace, transform the world.
God, hear the cries of all creation,
the cries of the waters, the air, the land and all living things;
the cries of all who are exploited, marginalized, abused and victimized,
all who are dispossessed and silenced, their humanity ignored,
all who suffer from any form of disease, from war
and from the crimes of the arrogant
who hide from the truth, distort memory
and deny the possibility of reconciliation.
God, guide all in seats of authority
towards decisions of moral integrity.
God, in your grace, transform the world.
We give thanks for your blessings and signs of hope
that are already present in the world,
in people of all ages and in those who have gone before us in faith;
in movements to overcome violence in all its forms,
not just for a decade but for always;
in the deep and open dialogues that have begun
both within our own churches and with those of other faiths
in the search for mutual understanding and respect;
in all those working together for justice and peace –
both in exceptional circumstances and every day.
We thank you for the good news of Jesus Christ,
and the assurance of resurrection.
God, in your grace, transform the world.
By the power and guidance of your Holy Spirit, O God,
may our prayers never be empty words
but an urgent response to your living Word –
in non-violent direct action for positive change,
in bold, clear, specific acts of solidarity,
liberation, healing and compassion,
readily sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
Open our hearts to love
and to see that all people are made in your image,
to care for creation and affirm life in all its wondrous diversity.
Transform us in the offering of ourselves
so that we may be your partners in transformation
to strive for the full, visible unity
of the one Church of Jesus Christ,
to become neighbours to all,
as we await with eager longing
the full revelation of your rule
in the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.
God, in your grace, transform the world.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
(Source: 2006 Assembly of the World Council of Churches)
Prayer for World Environment Day
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.
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
Living Sustainably – 17 wise suggestions from Wendell Berry
How can a sustainable local community (which is to say a sustainable local economy) function? I am going to suggest a set of rules that I think such a community would have to follow. I hasten to say that I do not understand these rules as predictions; I am not interested in foretelling the future. If these rules have any validity, it is because they apply now.
Supposing that the members of a local community wanted their community to cohere, to flourish, and to last, they would:
1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth.
2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.
3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.
4. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).
5. Understand the ultimate unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of ‘labor saving’ if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.
6. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of national or global economy.
7. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.
8. Strive to supply as much of the community’s own energy as possible.
9. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community for as long as possible before they are paid out.
10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.
11. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.
12. See that the old and young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily, and not always in school. There must be no institutionalised childcare and no homes for the aged. The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.
13. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or externalised. Whenever possible, these must be debited against monetary income.
14. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programs, systems of barter, and the like.
15. Always be aware of the economic value of neighborly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighborhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.
16. A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.
17. A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.
(Source: widely circulated on the internet, but this version from Godspace)