Earth Day 22 April

2022 theme: Invest in our planet
Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have painfully reminded us about the impacts of human behaviour that break down natural systems and threaten the lives of so many species, including humans. The theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest In our Planet” calling for businesses to shift towards sustainable practices. 

Mother Earth, Womb of God,
we thank you for the gift of life.
You love us as God: you create us of yourself,
and receive us into yourself.
You hold your children
even when we destroy you.
You feed us even when we are ungrateful;
you unfold us in beauty even when we refuse to see.
You teach us renewal, to give and receive,
the mystery of flow.
Even in our smallness you include us
in something great and beautiful.
O Generous One, whose law prevails forever,
O Divine Word, whose creating never ceases:
bless us that we may belong humbly,
that we may love beautifully, that we may live fruitfully.
O Earth, our Eden, our Heaven, our Hope,
may we be faithful Earthlings,
in loving harmony with you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

God-the-creator-of-life.001Prayer: My mother is mother earth
Mother earth
You are the source of life
I am part of you
My breath is your gift
I sing freely with the birds
Cattle and wild animals are friends
All of us fell asleep in the arm of the earth
You shade me in the mist of the mountains
You caress me with the sea breeze
You hold me in the tenderness of the wilderness
Mother earth
I am not a devoted child
I have created the black mist of the mountains
I have stained the sanctity of the blue sea
I have destroyed the green wilderness
I have fallen by the greed for power
I have been lulled by resplendent wealth
I have betrayed my own mother
Mother earth
I miss the warmth of the morning sun
which brings fresh air
that gives life to the universe
In you I have found my own being
Here is my promise
Here is my commitment
I will keep the green wilderness
I will take care of the clearness of the river and sea
I will preserve the universe. Amen.
(Rev Dr Apwee Ting, Uniting Church in Australia)

Earth Day is held on April 22nd each year, first held in 1970. Earth Day was the brainchild of U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who sought a way to place environmental protection on the national agenda at a time when pollution was compounding. The Democratic senator enlisted college students to organize and coordinate the day. More than 20 million Americans attended Earth Day festivities on April 22, 1970, aligning a broad spectrum of cohorts: Democrats and Republicans, urban and rural communities, labor and business leaders. The energy that surfaced that day has been credited with spurring the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (1970) and the passage of signature environmental legislation, such as the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972) and the Endangered Species Act (1973) – all initiatives enacted under President Richard Nixon. Earth Day has since expanded to 192 countries, according to the Earth Day Network. More information here.

The movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of our example.

And so it begins. Today. Right here and right now. Earth Day is more than just a single day (April 22). It’s bigger than attending a rally and taking a stand. This Earth Day and beyond, let’s make big stuff happen. Let’s plant 7.8 billion trees for the Earth. Let’s divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100% renewable. Let’s take the momentum from the Paris Climate Summit and build on it.

Earth Day 2019: Protect our species

Our leaders are ignoring global warming to the point of criminal negligence. It’s unforgivable. by Tim Winton (2019)

Resources on Season of Creation may also be of interest.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit ‘round and pluck blackberries.” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning. On this Earth Day those who are people of faith are reminded our first, highest and holiest calling is to love, cherish and care for the earth.
The environmental crisis is a spiritual crisis. We are not likely to cherish and protect what we take for granted. We are not likely to restore and renew what we do not revere. We are not likely to save what we do not savor and regard as sacred.
Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” Jesus said, “Those with eyes to see…”. We need new eyes.
Imagine the healing and restoration that would happen if we saw the earth not as a commodity to be consumed for our pleasure and greed but our sacred home we share as one family. Imagine the healing and transformation if we had eyes to see “The earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.” Imagine if we stopped selfishly trampling the earth, took off our shoes, and walked lightly seeing the ground as holy.
Wendell Berry wrote, “We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”
What will you do to express your love for God’s holy earth today?
(Source: Steve Koski, Facebook post, 2019)

Earth Day 2017 marked the first anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement. Despite this remarkable achievement, we cannot afford to pull back our efforts. To build a world that values environmental protection and cultivates sustainable communities for all people, we must have educated citizens.

“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)

Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson brings together the writings of over 80 faith leaders, gifted writers, scientists, government leaders, business leaders, naturists and activists to make the moral arguments for working to stop Climate Change. The hope is that a moral consensus, along with the scientific consensus, will inspire people to needed action. After a foreword by Desmond Tutu, the book’s inspiring writings are organized in different sections for why we need to morally respond to Climate Change:

    1. For the survival of humankind
    2. For the sake of the children
    3. For the sake of the Earth itself
    4. For the sake of all forms of life on the planet
    5. To honor our duties of gratitude and reciprocity
    6. For the full expression of human virtue
    7. Because all flourishing is mutual
    8. The stewardship of God’s creation
    9. Because compassion requires it
    10. Because justice demands it
    11. Because the world is beautiful
    12. Because we love the world
    13. To honor the Earth and Earth systems
    14. Because our moral integrity requires us to do what is right

(Source: Carolyn’s Hymns website)

WCC statement on Earth Day 2016

In 2016, 150+ world leaders signed the #ParisAgreement on #EarthDay2016 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Read more here.

You are the earth
You are the earth,
a little bit of it.
You are a microcosm of it,
all earth’s life and beauty and hope,
right in you.
By yourself you are nothing,
but you are not by yourself,
you are all the rest of it, too.
There is one thing,
and we are all it.
Wonder deeply, thank freely,
serve humbly and do justice boldly.
Above all, simply belong,
and let our joy be in you.
Happy Earth Day.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Look at the world (John Rutter and Cambridge Singers) – youtube clip
Words to the song:

Look at the world, everything all around us
Look at the world and marvel every day.
Look at the world: so many joys and wonders,
So many miracles along our way.

Praise to Thee, O Lord for all creation.
Give us thankful hearts that we may see
All the gifts we share, and every blessing,
All things come of Thee.

Look at the earth bringing forth fruit and flower,
Look at the sky the sunshine and the rain.
Look at the hills, look at the trees and mountains,
Valley and flowing river, field and plain.

(Repeat Chorus)

Think of the spring, think of the warmth of summer,
Bringing the harvest before winter’s cold.
Everything grows, everything has a season,
Till it is gathered to the Father’s fold:

(Repeat Chorus)

Every good gift, all that we need and cherish,
Comes from the Lord in token of His love.
We are His hands, stewards of all His bounty
His is the earth and His the heavens above.

(Repeat Chorus)

All things come of Thee!

For the beauty of the earth – youtube clip with music by John Rutter

Improvisation on Psalm 1 (for Earth Day)
Happy are those who do not ravage fossil fuels,
ignore the warming of oceans,
or scoff at the value of wild public lands,
but their delight is in care for creation,
and on climate change
they meditate day and night.
The psalmist so many years ago
likened them to trees
planted by streams of fresh water,
which yield fruit in its season,
and unfurl leaves that do not wither.
In all that they do to support youth strike
and radicalized activism, they prosper.
Those who deny global warming are not so,
but treat life like chaff
easily blown away by the wind.
Therefore, they will stand confused and asking —
Do you remember …trees?
Where is there one stream of living water?
Why is there no fruit for my mouth,
and no leaf to shade my head?
God watches the resistance
of those who fight for the earth,
but cannot keep the others
from their self-determination to perish.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Earth Teach Me to Remember (believed to be Ute Indian prayer)
Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth Teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep in the rain.

See the world through the eyes of the Creator, Pope Francis said at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, marking Earth Day.
“I exhort everyone to see the world through the eyes of God the Creator: the earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated,” he said. “The relationship of (hu)mankind with nature must not be conducted with greed, manipulation and exploitation, but it must conserve the divine harmony that exists between creatures and Creation within the logic of respect and care, so it can be put to the service of our brothers, also of future generations”. In his universal prayer intention for April, Francis prayed “That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God.”

Worship in celebration of creation ((McCormick Theological Seminary)

WorshipinCelebrationofCreation (PDF)

(Stupid) reasons Christians reject environmentalism (Sojourners article)

Earth Day prayers, Christine Sine

Native American prayers for Earth Day

Garden blessing for Earth Day

Earth Day liturgy by Christine Sine

A liturgy for the celebration of creation, by Christine Sine

See also Season of Creation for resources

Uniting Church article

Faith based responses for Earth Day (links to videos)

Closing Commission and Prayer
May we always walk gently upon the Earth,
in right relationship,
nurtured by your love,
open to the wind of the Spirit,
taking only what we need,
always open to the needs of others,
making choices that bring wellbeing,
living with generosity,
striving for justice,
honouring all with reverence,
reconciling and peacemaking,
mindful of those who will come after,
recognising our proper place as part of your creation.
Grant us the strength and courage, Lord,
for such a radical transformation into your Kingdom. Amen.
(Christian Aid and Christian Ecology Link. Posted on Third Space blog)

Responsive liturgy (adapted from Ps 65:5-12) – Christine Sine
God you call forth songs of joy from all the earth
You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness,
God our Saviour you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
You are the hope of the farthest seas,
When morning dawns and evening fades
You call forth songs of joy
God you call forth songs of joy from all the earth
You care for the land and water it;
You enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
To provide the people with grain,
For so you have ordained it.
God you call forth songs of joy from all the earth
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
You soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
And your carts overflow with abundance.
God you call forth songs of joy from all the earth
The grasslands of the deserts overflow;
The hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
And the valleys are mantled with grain;
They shout for joy and sing
God you call forth songs of joy from all the earth

Greening the CrossGreeningtheCross
(A joint worship service of the congregations of Capitol Drive, Divine Word, Good Shepherd and Pentecost Lutheran Churches. Sunday, April 26, 1998, in Milwaukee, Wis)

Earth Day liturgy (National Council of Churches)
The church is called to participate in God’s transformation of creation. Congregations and individuals have found ways they can address the challenges of climate change including: turning off lights and appliances to reduce their use of electricity and energy, choosing public transportation instead of single occupancy vehicles, and sharing their concerns about the environment with their neighbors, leaders of industries and their legislators.
But first of all, Christians are praying–praying for wisdom and strength to help restore and protect the wonderful gift of creation.
Call to Worship (from Psalm 19):
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard.
Yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Litany for Creation:
Praise to you, O God, source of all waters. For vast oceans, flowing rivers, and gentle rains we give you thanks.
Forgive our careless waste and polluting ways.
Help us to cleanse, conserve, and share; teach us to care for the gift of water.
Come and heal your people. Come and heal the waters.
Praise to yoiu, O God, creator of the dry land. For mighty mountains, rolling hills, and fertile prairies we give you thanks.
Forgive our wanton greed and violent ways.
Help us to sow, till, and harvest with care; teach us to live gently on the land.
Come and heal your people. Come and heal the land.
Praise to you, O God, breath of life and maker of air. For wind and wave, breath and breeze, light and life we give you thanks.
Forgive our heedless acts and selfish ways.
Help us to live justly, simply, and wisely; teach us to care for the gift of air.
Come and heal your people. Come and heal the air.
Praise to you, O God, Lord and Giver of Life. Your love sustains planet earth and by your hand all things living are fed.
Forgive our neglect and abuse of your gifts.
Help us to serve, defend, defend and restore your creation.
Help us care for your people. Help us care for the earth.
Prayer of Confession
Creator of the earth and all living things, maker of the sky and the air and the breath of life, God of all that is: we are your servant people, created out of the clay of the earth itself. We forget that we are your creatures and we play at being gods. We neglect the work of stewardship that you have provided for our occupation and our joy. We have used, abused, and abandoned those things that you have created for your delight.
You have created a fragile world in a perfect and delicate balance. Thinking too much of our own importance we have upset the balance.
We ask your forgiveness, Holy and Righteous God. We yearn to join with the mountains and valleys, the rocks and the birds of the wild ocean waters in singing your praises. Amen
Declaration of Hope:
“Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
We are standing at a crossroads. Together let us seek the good way and find rest for all of God’s creation.

The community of creation in a seed: a reflection by Randy Woodley

Touch the earth lightly

Caring for God’s creation – songs by Carolyn Gillette Winfrey

Hymn: God you made your good creation (tune: ‘Nettleton’)
This hymn was inspired by “Laudato Si’ (Praise Be to You): On Care for Our Common Home,”, 2015 Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis.  The World Methodist Council asked to include the hymn in a special gift book that they gave the Poppe. The hymn later was sung at the World Council of Churches worship service at the UN conference on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany and is in the latest issue of Call to Worship journal.

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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