Thursday, August 11, 2016

September 1 is World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Prayer, Praise and the Power in Music

by Diane Waddell

PEC is grateful for our colleagues in creation care, Revs. Bruce & Carolyn Gillette, co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware.  They are consistently generous in sharing the fruits of their creative ministry both through liturgical resourcing, contributing and supporting overtures - including On Amending “The Ministry of Members,” by adding “Caring for God’s Creation - and through hymnody in eco-justice.

Bruce reminds us that the PC(USA) joined Pope Francis’ call for all Christians to support an ecumenical day of prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1 annually at the 222nd General Assembly. This day was first proposed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The September 1st World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is to be included in the PC(USA) Program Calendars and resources are to be made available online on the PC(USA) website. Thanks also to the Presbytery of Sante Fe who submitted the overture On Communicating Gratitude for and Study of the Encyclical “Laudato Si.”

Bruce and Carolyn have compiled the resources below hat include a reflection from Dr. Bill Brown and a beautiful litany they have written that blends the Lord’s Prayer with concern for God's creation.

The Lord’s Prayer and Creation Care: A Litany of Confession
by Bruce and Carolyn Gillette

Leader:  Loving God, we remember that Jesus taught us to pray saying, “Our Father…”
People:  You created us, you made this world, and you called your creation very good. Yet often we forget that you are our loving Parent who continues to bless your world.

Leader:   Jesus told us that you are “…in heaven…”
People:  Yet we fail to live in awe of you. We take you for granted, and we don’t see the awesome beauty of the world you have made.

Leader:   We pray, “Hallowed be your name…”
People:  We confess that our reverence for you does not always lead us to care reverently for your earth, sky and sea.

Leader:   We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”
People:  We confess that we often put our own interests first—exploiting your creation, and living for our own convenience and self-interest.

Leader:   We pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”
People:  We confess that we consume more than our share of the world’s resources, while billions go hungry every day and your whole creation suffers.

Leader:   We pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
People:  We confess that we see these words only in spiritual terms, while the Bible is filled with teachings about economic justice and creation care.

Leader:  We pray, “Save us from the time of trial.”
People:  Help us to resist the temptations of spending more, using more, acquiring more, and wasting more.

Leader:  We pray, “Deliver us from evil…”
People:  Free us from greed and self-centeredness that separate us from you and others.

Leader:  We pray, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.”
People:  Help us to know that in caring for your wonderful world, we are working for your kingdom, being good stewards of your creative power, and giving you glory.

Leader:  We pray, “Amen.”
People:  We end our prayers with “Amen,” a word that means “let it be so.”  We know we can be faithful disciples by your grace.  Amen!

            The Earth is the Lord’s
ST. DENIO (“Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”)

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”
Creation reminds us, O God, of your love.
By grace we are learning, as year leads to year,
We’re called to be stewards, your caretakers here.

Your rainforests nurture the world that we share.
Your wetlands give animals shelter and care.
Your coral reefs cradle the life of the sea.
You’ve shown us, in love, what your good world can be.

Too often, O God, we abuse your good earth.
We fail to remember its beauty and worth.
We take from creation much more than we need,
We threaten your world through indifference and greed.

May we be good stewards of all that you give,
Protecting creation wherever we live.
May we be a church that renews and restores
And lovingly cares for this earth that is yours.

Biblical References:  Genesis 1- 2, Psalms 8 and 24.
Tune: Welsh Folk Hymn, Adapted in Caniadau y Cyssegr, 1839 
Text: Copyright © 2001 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission. Permission is given for free use of this hymn for the Annual World Day of Prayer for Caring for God’s Creation
Email: Website:
The hymn is available online with the music as a free download.

September 1st – World Day of Prayer for the Care for God’s Creation

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 222nd (2016) General Assembly voted to join “Pope Francis’ call for all Christians to support an ecumenical day of prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1 annually.” 

Pope Francis recently proclaimed September 1st as the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,” joining Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I of Constantinople, who earlier extended an invitation for Christians to offer together ”every year on this date prayers and supplications to the Maker of all, both as thanksgiving for the great gift of creation and as petitions for its protection and salvation.” 
Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, the World Council of Churches General Secretary, wrote: “Pope Francis’s ecumenical initiative reinforces the growing emphasis on prayer for the care of creation among all the churches. We welcome the opportunity to join our efforts with those of the Ecumenical Patriarch and now the Catholic Church, and through prayer to sharpen our awareness and commitment to God’s creation, ‘our common home,’ as Pope Francis has called it.”

All-powerful God,
You are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor,
Help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen.

“Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be to You”): On Care for Our Common Home,” 2015 Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis.

The Bible and Caring for God’s Creation

The fundamental mandate for creation care comes from Genesis 2:15, where God places Adam in the garden to "till it and keep it" (NRSV).  A better translation from the Hebrew is "to serve it and to preserve it."  In Genesis 1:26-28, God blesses humankind with dominion over the earth.  This acknowledgement that humanity is the most powerful species on earth does not, however, give license to dominate and exploit the planet.  Indeed, the following verses affirm the right of animals to share in the bounty of the earth's produce (Gen 1:29-30).  Human "dominion" as intended in Genesis is best practiced in care for creation, in stewardship, which according to Genesis Noah fulfills best by implementing God's first endangered species act.  More-over, the great creation psalm of the Psalter views humanity as one species among many animal species, all meant to flourish together (Psalm 104:14-23).  The psalmist exclaims, “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (v. 24). 

Scripture affirms that God created the world in wisdom and out of love, and it is also out of love for the world that God gave Christ to redeem it (John 3:16).  In Christ “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), and “every creature under heaven” is to receive God’s good news (v. 23).  According to Revelation, God’s work in the world is “make all things new” (21:5), to bring about a new creation that does not destroy the old but transforms it, renews it.  If the church is the sign of the new creation, then the church must lead the way in caring for creation. 

---Dr. William P. Brown, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary, (Copied from the Biblical Background for the  approved 2016 GA Overture to add “Caring for God’s Creation” to G-1.0304 The Ministry of Members)

Caring for Creation and Life (Book of Order, W-7.5003)

God calls the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit to participate in God’s work of creation and preservation. God has given humankind awesome power and perilous responsibility to rule and tame the earth, to sustain and reshape it, to replenish and renew it.

In worship Christians rejoice and give thanks to God, who gives and sustains the created universe, the earth, all life, and all goods. They acknowledge God’s command to be stewards. They confess their own failures in caring for creation and life. They rejoice in the promise of the redemption and renewal of the creation in Jesus Christ, proclaimed in the Word and sealed in the Sacraments. They commit themselves to live as God’s stewards until the day when God will make all things new. (W-1.0000)

As stewards of God’s creation who hold the earth in trust, the people of God are called to

a. use the earth’s resources responsibly without plundering, polluting, or destroying,

b. develop technological methods and processes that work together with the earth’s environment to preserve and enhance life,

c. produce and consume in ways that make available to all people what is sufficient for life,

d. work for responsible attitudes and practices in procreation and reproduction,

e. use and shape earth’s goods to create beauty, order, health, and peace in ways that reflect God’s love for all creatures.

In gratitude for the gifts of creation, the faithful bring material goods to God in worship as a means of expressing praise, as a symbol of their self-offering, and as a token of their commitment to share earth’s goods. (W-2.5000; W-3.3507; W-5.5005; W-5.6000).

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