“Each of the interconnected threads in a tapestry contributes to the beautiful pattern of the whole – so too in creation. This has huge implications for how we live on this planet, and for our theology and spirituality”.
(Source: Br. Kevin McDonnell)
“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”
(Source: Rachel Carson)
Good and Gracious God,
Source of the evolving Universe,
Source of all Life,
All creation is charged with your Divine Energy.
Ignite your Spark within us,
That we may know ourselves
As truly human and holy,
Irrevocably part of the Web of Life.
– each star and every flower,
– each drop of water and every person,
– each and every atom, down to its very electrons,
explodes with the revelation
of your sacred mystery.
Our minds alone cannot fathom such splendor,
Our hearts can only respond in awe, praise and gratitude.
Forgive us, we pray, our ignorance
And insecurities which
– blind us to your Thumbprint writ large,
– deafen us to the sacred space
– between two heartbeats,
– prompt us in arrogance to demand and dominate,
– numb us to the destruction we’ve caused,
– hold us hostage to “either-or” thinking and living.
May we always walk gently upon this earth,
– in right relationship,
– nurtured by your Love,
– taking only what we need,
– giving back to the earth in gratitude,
– honoring all with reverence,
– reconciling and healing,
– mindful of those who will come after,
– recognizing our proper place as part of,
not apart from, your creation.
Grant us the strength and courage, we pray,
For such radical transformation into your Kin-dom.
The we, too, with the very stones will shout, “HOSANNA.”
(Source: Michelle Balek, OSF, Progressive Christianity)
‘“The Radiant Tapestry of Being” – a possible theme for Season of Creation.
“Environment in Religion” by Vladamir Tomek
WCC’s Time for Creation is in the same time frame as Seasons of Creation in September each year.
Canticle of Daniel on Youtube by Don Stewart with visuals by Rob Hanks
When he considered the primordial source of all things, [St. Francis] was filled with even more abundant piety, calling all creatures, no matter how small, by the name of brother and sister, because he knew they had the same source as himself. —Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274) 
If Christianity would have paid attention to the teachings and example of Jesus and Francis, our planet—“Mother Sister Earth,” as Francis called her—would perhaps be much healthier today. But it took until the 21st century for a pope to write an entire encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, making this quite clear and demanding.
We have not honored God’s Presence in the elemental, physical world. We made God as small as our own constricted hearts. We just picked and chose, saying, “Oh, God is really only in my group, in baptized people, in moral people, etc.” Is there that little of an Infinite God to go around? Do we have to be stingy with God? As Isaiah put it “the arm of God is not too short to save!” (59:1). Why pretend only we deserve God, and not other groups, religions, animals, plants, the elements, Brother Sun, and Sister Moon? It just won’t sell any more.
God is saving creation and bringing all creatures back where they began—into union with their Creator. God loves everything that God has made! All created things God proclaimed “good” (see Genesis 1:9-31 and Wisdom 11:24-12:1). But we, with our small minds, can’t deal with that. We have to whittle God and Love into small parts that our minds can handle and portion out. Human love is conditional and operates out of a scarcity model. There’s not enough to go around, just like Andrew said about the boy’s five loaves and two small fish (John 6:9). Humans can’t conceptualize or even think infinite or eternal concepts. We cannot imagine Infinite Love, Infinite Goodness, or Infinite Mercy.
Tertullian, a third century Father of the Church, often called the first Christian theologian, said “enfleshment is the hinge of salvation.”  We don’t come to the God Mystery through concepts or theories but by connecting with what is—with God’s immediate, embodied presence which is all around us. I want you to begin to notice that almost all of Jesus’ common stories and examples are nature based and relationship based—and never once academic theory! (Fr. Thomas Berry [1914-2009] taught the same way in our time, and I hope to share his work much more in my writings and teachings in the future.)
We have not recognized the one Body of Christ in creation. Perhaps we just didn’t have the readiness or training. There is first of all the seeing, and then there is the recognizing; the second stage is called contemplation. We cannot afford to be blind any longer. We must learn to see and recognize how broad and deep the Presence is if we are to truly care for our common home.
 Bonaventure, The Life of Saint Francis, trans. Ewert Cousins (HarperCollins: 2005), 84.
 Tertullian, “Caro salutis est cardo,” from De resurrectione carnis (Treatise on the Resurrection), 8, 2.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “The Christification of the Universe,” a homily at Holy Family Parish, August 16, 2016, Center for Action and Contemplation.
What a wonderful world (Louis Armstrong)
“The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.”
~ Julian of Norwich
Walk among trees who do not judge you,
who travel seasons in perfect meekness.
Leave the drumbeat of blocks and apartments,
hours and trains, lines and squares,
and return to the rhythm of living things.
Observe beings who live the life they are given.
Go at a pace you won’t trip over roots
while looking up.
Listen to the conversation the sun has with the grasses,
watch its slow labor among the trees.
Let your life become as purposeful as any wild thing.
Stay long enough to shed the illusion
that you are superior, that you are separate,
that this is not also your flesh.
Let your breath, prairie wind, sea breeze,
—amazing gift, moment after moment!—
carry you through the day.
Your own organs, your hands, your eyes,
let them infest this day of work.
Earthling, be of this earth.
Let it have you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
The ‘Earth’ Story
Presently this traditional story is dysfunctional in its larger social dimensions,
even though some believe it firmly and act according to its guidance.
Aware of the dysfunctional aspects of the traditional program,
some persons have moved on into different, often new-age, orientations,
which have consistently proven ineffective in dealing with our present life situation.
Even with advanced science and technology,
with superb techniques in manufacturing and commerce,
in communications and computation,
our secular society remains without satisfactory meaning or the social discipline needed
for a life leading to emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual fulﬁllment.
Because of this lack of satisfaction, many persons are returning to a religious fundamentalism But that, too, can be seen as inadequate to supply the values for sustaining our needed social discipline.
A radical reassessment of the human situation is needed,
especially concerning those basic values that give to life some satisfactory meaning.
We need something that will supply our times what was supplied formerly by our traditional religions story.
If we are to achieve this purpose, we must begin where everything in human affairs – with the basic story,
our narrative of how things came to be,
how they came to be as they are,
and how the future can be given some satisfying direction.
We need a story that will educate us, a story that will heal, guide, and discipline us. (Thomas Berry)
in morning stillness
I walk among you.
From dark earth beneath
you branch out above me.
From dark space beyond
you shine down among us.
In darkness hidden deep
your invisible angels
of bug and fungus fashion glory,
working their feast of rot and fermentation,
your millioned resurrections.
Your trees and I breathe each other,
in and out.
They branch out in me.
I breathe in them,
each breath a hymn.
I move through you,
the holy space between us;
the air of you is charged
with light, with birds, with praise.
Our flights are song,
our greenness is praise,
even our stones,
their silence your purest praise.
I waken to my belonging.
How could we
– even I –
– even in death –
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
As long as the air was clean,
so was the rain;
as long as the land was unsoiled,
so was the stream;
as long as the stream was filtered,
so was the lake;
when we drank its water,
it cleared our throats.
River, you carry the melted snow from the peaks
the rain from the catchment and the lakes;
you purify the aquifers
feed the forests and farms
greening grass and budding leaves.
The gardener sang as he worked
in the cadence of creation
marrying the land and the river
in the fertility of his garden.
Swimming in the river’s rippling currents
he felt renewed and entranced
by its rare voice.
(Source: John Howell)
A collation of resources here on the original Season of Creation website.
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you
(Source: Fiona Macleod, owing credit to John Rutter)
Lord God, we know you are our creator.
You created us in your own image.
You gave us responsibility of dominion over the earth and all in it.
We repent that we have not been good stewards of your creation.
We have caused global warming through burning fossil fuels,
we have cut down a lot of trees without replacing them,
we have advanced in technology and increased in population,
hence manufacturing machines that pollute your nature,
we have constantly benefitted from the natural resources and in return giving nothing back.
Lord, grant us your wisdom, so that we may turn back and preserve our environment.
Help us to always stick to the proper use of the natural resources
so that we do not continually harm climate.
We ask all of these in Jesus name,
(Source” Rev Emmanuel Ngambeki, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Karagwe Diocese, Tanzania)
Prayer from Indonesia
We ruin life by starting the fire in our woods
We replace the fresh air with smoke
We poison our clean water and bath our children with waste We killed our grandchildren by inheriting them poison and pest God, have mercy on us
O God, we are ignoring the natural disaster, but nature is you.
We are speechless, afraid of the laws abusing the nature. And we are scared of YOU.
And even a church as your body, often keeps quiet looking for a safe place.
O God we are waiting for the new the heaven and earth where the truth and justice belong to all your creation
O God, have a mercy of Lord
(Source: Karo Batak Protestant Church (GBKP), Worship, Medan, Indonesia, 2012)
Christine Valters Painter’s book, Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire : The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements, may be a useful resource (with a focus on the elements of water, wind, earth fire during Season of Creation).
Note: Pilgrim UC will use this resource for 2016 – will post the liturgies when they are prepared.
William Wallace (New Zealand) has prepared a ‘Mass of the Universe‘ with all the text and music – could be worth considering for the opening Sunday or closing Sunday of the month set aside for Seasons of Creation. Ideally it will need some advance notice for preparation of the music with cantors, small choir etc. Definitely worth checking out.
The earth is at the same time mother,
she is mother of all that is natural,
mother of all that is human,
She is the mother of all,
for contained in her
aret he seeds of all.
The earth of humankind
contains all moistness,
all germinating power.
It is in so many ways fruitful.
All creation comes from it.
Yet it forms not only the basic
raw material for humankind,
but also the substance
of the incarnation
of God’s son.
Hildegard of Bingen, c. 1125
Textweek.com has online resources for each Sunday in Season of Creation.
Uniting Earth Web has great resources online for Seasons of Creation.
Uniting Church WA produces resources for ‘Sustainable September‘ each year.
A great video clip (4.58 mins) – She’s Alive, beautiful, finite, dying, worth dying for – could be shown during a service. The blurb: “It was made to highlight the fact that world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless ‘consumers’ are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today. The cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/). The principal source for the footage was Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s incredible film HOME http://www.homethemovie.org/. The music was by Armand Amar. Credit and thanks to Greenpeace and http://timescapes.org/”
Lord of life,
Things are not as they should be.
Our world is not as you intended.
We have overreached our place in the world.
We have upset the balance of nature.
We do not live in harmony with the environment.
We have exploited our planet.
Our devouring of resources is unnatural.
Our excesses are overbearing
Our destruction of the wild places is abhorrent
Our ignorance of the damage resulting from our lifestyle is inexcusable
We should be sorry.
We know the facts.
We have seen the effects.
But little do we change.
Do not forgive our token gestures.
Hold us accountable until we repent.
Disabuse us of our perverted selfish ways.
Grant us the shocking vision of the truth.
But also call us to your purpose.
Awaken in us the seeds of change.
Help us take up our responsibility.
Show us how to make amends.
Join us to your mission,
That our world may be renewed.
That we may be redeemed.
That the Creating Christ may be served.
In his name.
Amen. (c) Jon Humphries
“During a 2009 countrywide drought in India, when I visited Navdanya farmers in different parts of the country, I found their crops had not suffered, because they were using locally adapted seeds, and their soils had water-holding capacity because of organic manuring. Farmers using Green Revolution, fertilizer-intensive varieties, or GMO Bt cotton, had a crop failure because neither the seed nor the soil was drought resilient.
Growing diversity and growing organic have become necessary for adapting our soils to climate change. Supporting healthy soils is the most effective way to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Soils with organic matter are more resilient to drought and climate extremes. Biodiversity-intensive systems – which are, in effect, photosynthesis-intensive systems – drive carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into plants and then into the soil. Soil, not oil, holds the future for humanity.”
(Source: Vandana Shiva, ‘Who Really Feeds the World?’)
Creation and communion liturgy
A Liturgy of Creation and Communion – John Van De Laar
Opening prayer (includes acknowledgement of land)
We give thanks for creation:
its vibrant genesis and evolution
its wonder and mystery
its delicacy and strength
its wordless word
We give thanks for the Kaurna people who nurtured this land:
for their stories of the dreaming
for their connection with the sacred
for their yes!
We give thanks for the gift of this community:
for calling us to be present to one another
for the mystery of grace in our lives
for your yes!
Dear God, there are times
when I hear your voice most clearly
in greenness: in the singing of sap,
the conversation of the leaves, the whisperings
of shoot and stem, root, sap and cell,
calling me back to creation
to feel again the freshness of you
running through everything
like a bright emerald current.
God of greenness, you know well my tendency
to fill my life with my own methods of communication.
Thank you for constantly returning me to the simplicity of yours.
Again I experience you in the rejoicing
of bare feet on a damp forest path,
in the wonder of light thrown against
a kaleidoscope of tree ferns,
in the myriad textures of moss-clad trees,
in the shining of you beneath every surface.
Beloved Creator, coming to our greenness
is always a coming home,
a time of peace and grace
as the unimportant in me falls away
and I know again that bright green shoot
of my own beginning
which comes from you
and is one with you,
bright and beautiful God. Source: WCC website
Practice: Conversations with Nature (Richard Rohr)
Although creation may be “wordless,” we can still dialogue with it as St. Francis did. Bill Plotkin suggests a practice of “talking across the species boundaries” in his book Soulcraft that expands upon last week’s contemplative practice of presence to Presence within an ordinary object:
Go wandering [in nature]. Bring your journal. . . . Wander aimlessly until you feel called by something that draws your attention, by way of an attraction, a curiosity, an allurement, a repulsion, a fear. . . . Whatever it is, sit and observe it closely for a good length of time. Interact with your senses, offer your full visual and aural attention to the Other. Record in your journal what you observe.
Then introduce yourself, out loud—yes, out loud. . . . Tell this being about yourself. . . . Tell the truth, your deepest, most intimate truth. In addition to ordinary human language, you might choose to speak with song, poetry . . . movement, gesture, dance. Then, using the same speech options, tell that being everything about it you have noticed. . . . Keep communicating no matter what . . . until it interrupts you.
Then stop and listen. Listen with your ears, eyes, nose, skin, intuition, feeling, and imagination. . . . In your journal, record and/or draw what happens. Offer the Other your gratitude and a gift . . . a song, a dance, a lock of hair, praise . . . some water. . . .
Enter your conversations with the Others with the intention of learning about them and developing a relationship, but don’t be surprised if you thereby discover more about yourself.  And, I would add, more about God who created them.
Gateway to Silence: Brother Sun, Sister Moon, help me see God in all things.
Reference:  Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (New World Library: 2003), 168-169.
(quote is from Richard Rohr, A New Cosmology: Nature as the First Bible CD and MP3 download ; Richard Rohr and Bill Plotkin, Soul Centering through Nature: Becoming a True Human Adult, CD and MP3 download)
Great Chain of Being (reflections by Richard Rohr)
I would like to reclaim an ancient, evolving, and very Franciscan metaphor—the Great Chain of Being—to name the nature of the universe, God, and the self, and to direct our future thinking.
Using this image, medieval theologians tried to communicate a linked and coherent world. The essential and unbreakable links in the chain include the Divine Creator, the angelic heavenly host, the human, the animal, the world of plants and vegetation, and planet Earth itself with its minerals and waters. In themselves and in their union together the links proclaim the glory of God (see Psalm 104) and the inherent dignity of all things. This image became the ontological basis for calling anything and everything sacred. Without it, the idea of “sacred” is subject to the feelings and whims of the individual.
Saint Bonaventure, who is called the second founder of the Franciscan Order, took Francis of Assisi’s intuitive genius and spelled it out into an entire philosophy. He wrote: “The magnitude of things . . . clearly manifests . . . the wisdom and goodness of the triune God, who by power, presence and essence exists uncircumscribed in all things.”  God is “within all things but not enclosed; outside all things, but not excluded; above all things, but not aloof; below all things, but not debased.”  Bonaventure spoke of God as one “whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”  Therefore the origin, magnitude, multitude, beauty, fullness, activity, and order of all created things are the very “footprints” and “fingerprints” (vestigia) of God. Now that is quite a lovely and very safe universe to live in. Welcome home!
Bonaventure said further:
Therefore, open your eyes, alert the ears of your spirit, open your lips and apply your heart so that in all creatures you may see, hear, praise, love and worship, glorify and honor your God, lest the whole world rise against you. 
It is hard to imagine how different the last seven hundred years might have been if this truly catholic (kata holos, or “according to the whole”) vision had formed more Christians. Instead, our seeing has been partial and usually prejudicial. We have hardly seen at all. The individual decided where and if God’s image would be recognized and honored.
The primary losers according to this labeling system were “sinners,” variously defined: heretics defined by the empowered group; witches, usually defined by males; Muslims and Jews; indigenous peoples and religions; buffalo, whales, and elephants; land, water, and air itself. Finally, the Divine Presence ended up being almost nowhere except in gatherings of our own small group—and even there we had levels of worthiness! No wonder we live in a secular and empty world where hardly anything seems sacred.
How can we call ourselves monotheists if we cannot see that “one God” unites our world? How can we call ourselves Christians if we don’t believe that being “Christ-like” means loving “the least of the brothers and sisters” (Matthew 25:40)?
Once the Great Chain was broken, and even one link withdrawn, the whole catholic/universal vision collapsed. It seems that we either honor God in all things or we soon lose the basis for seeing God in anything.
Gateway to Silence:
Praised be You, my Lord, through all your creatures. —Francis of Assisi
 Bonaventure, Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey to God, 1, 14, trans. Ewert Cousins (Paulist Press: 1978), 65.
 Ibid., 5, 8, 100ff.
 Ibid., 5, 8, 100.
 Ibid., 1, 15, 67-68.
Adapted from Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (Franciscan Media: 2001), 135-137.
Wake, Now My Senses (Tune: Slane, 10 10 10 10, 547 TiS)
Wake, now my senses, and hear the earth call;
feel the deep power of being in all;
keep, with the web of creation your vow,
giving, receiving as love shows us how.
Wake, now my reason, reach out to the new,
join with each pilgrim who quests for the true;
honour the beauty and wisdom of time;
suffer your limit, and praise the sublime.
Wake, now compassion, give heed to the cry;
voices of suffering fill the wide sky;
take as your neighbour both stranger and friend,
praying and striving their hardship to end.
Wake, now my conscience, with justice your guide;
join with all people whose rights are denied;
take not for granted a privileged place;
God’s love embraces the whole human race.
Wake, now my vision of ministry clear;
brighten my pathway with radiance here;
mingle my calling with all who will share;
work toward a planet transformed by our care.
(Words: Thomas J S Mikelson)
“We’re standing here on holy ground” (Tune: ‘Ellacombe(2)’, 86 86D, 453 TiS)
We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land your hand has made;
Your art displayed in timeless rocks,
in purple haze and space;
Its mighty gums and feathery ferns
your beauty magnify.
Tread softly then, in awe reflect,
and listen to the land.
We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land which ancients trod.
They wrote your law in hills and streams
in rocks and caves and trees;
A law to tell us who we are,
to guide and make us strong.
Tread gently then, respect the earth,
remember whence we’ve come.
We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land that toil has shaped.
It’s fertile plains will feed us all,
when tilled with care and love.
But mindless greed and drought and flood
wreak havoc in the land.
Then let us tread with love the earth,
that’s fed us faithfully.
We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land we long to share,
Where each has space and equity,
and neither want nor fear
But demons fierce are dancing here
of race and greed and hate.
Engrave upon our wills, we pray,
your ancient covenant law.
We’re standing here on holy ground,
we seek your rule on earth;
Your will be done in politics,
in law court, market, church;
Your gentleness among us reign,
and each one dwell secure;
May generations yet unborn,
live here in harmony. © JBrown. (Adapted – Verses 1-2, 4-6)
For the Beauty of the Earth (Tune: ‘Dix’, 77 77 77) 21 SLT
For the beauty of the earth,
for the splendour of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies:
Source of all,
to thee we raise this
our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony
linking sense to sound and sight:
For the wonder of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light:
For the joy of human care,
sister, brother, parent, child,
for the kinship we all share,
for all gentle thought and mild:
Source of all,
to thee we raise this
our hymn of grateful praise.
The Universe in God
(Tune: “Praise my soul”, 87 87 87. 179 TiS)
All creation sings a story
Of great splendours to declare.
When we contemplate its beauty
We are called forth into prayer.
We, enchanted, stand in silence;
God discovered everywhere.
When we stumble on new knowledge,
When new insights help us grow,
We are quick to re-discover
Just how much we do not know.
But the Universe smiles gently,
As our theories come and go.
Outer space and inner being
Both have secrets they conceal.
Galaxies so grimly awesome,
Deep emotions that we feel –
All in God are judged as sacred;
It is God they all reveal.
Ageless mysteries still excite us;
Time and space we must explore.
God the ‘Presence’ and ‘Surrounding’,
God the ever wondrous ‘More’
Is not found by science labours,
But in praise when we adore.
(Source: George Stuart)
Song: Sing praise to God and mountain tops (sample: music and lyrics on Hymnary)