SEASON OF CREATION: GETTING MOVING IN 2022
The GRID -gives lectionary readings we can use as starters, and the themes for wider exploration
“Green Starters”: I’ve looked through all the readings and noted initial thoughts, which are not meant to limit anything you will come up with. I’ve given a star rating as to how easy they might be to work with for our purpose.
Note: As Environmental Chaplain, I’m not just gathering material, but helping communities to create it: if I can give technical help (e.g. editing formatting or even shooting video, or encouragement to say what you didn’t think you were allowed to say, ) please do get in touch, ideally by email ( firstname.lastname@example.org) .
I will also retain the right to make editorial adjustments, since I will be responsible myself for what goes out!
Some guidelines (see ‘remit’ below) come from the ‘Weekly Worship’ team of the Church of Scotland, and these are very valuable in helping prepare what we write. As is the particular background that you, personally bring with you. Be who you are, but take nothing for granted, especially across denominations. Your particular gift is welcome, but may need to be carefully wrapped.
Also: make it completely your own: Copyright law is fiendishly complicated and some well-known artists are protected by more ferocious and predatory harpies than the well-meaning artists are themselves aware of.
Those coming from an academic background in particular, should enjoy the chance to say what they mean, without having to refer back, with every breath they take, to some eminent authority. Your insight from today may be more vastly helpful than an eminent, published writer of 10 or even 5 years ago, who hadn’t had the chances you have to be aware of the crisis.
We are not just ‘filling in a gap’. We bring to this task a belief, born of experience, that much of the Bible can be read, with integrity, in a way which highlights the rootedness of our faith in the partnership of God with Creation – variously described as ‘covenant’, in which human beings have a vital part to play, though by no means the only part. We are, as Pope Francis has said, “ruled” by the Earth.
The first challenge to our reading involves an appreciation of Creation and other creatures as “who” rather than “what” – as subject, rather than merely object.
Please, right now, set aside any embarrassment or squeamishness you might feel about talking to fellow creatures. In Bible poetry – frequently – the mountains dance, the trees clap hands, the stones (threaten to) shout aloud and Creation groans. Jesus speaks to the rowdy wind and waves in the same blunt way he does to people who need putting in their place! These are ways in which we encounter personification, not to be dismissed as crass anthropomorphisation ( human-centeredness).
Modern science, and a currently renewed appreciation of the sentience of fellow creatures, brings a new depth of meaning to this imagery. We ‘hear the voice of the earth’ as never before, though we have a whole raft of wonderful strategies for ignoring, or postponing action on what that geo-prophetic voice might have to say.
These obvious images are not at all the only ‘creation’ themes. To risk a quote myself: As environmental scientist Gus Speth has famously said,
“The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy”,
Should it be a surprise that the best we have to offer in the state of the world today are also the best expressions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The sheer practicality of making forgiveness/healing/enabling a priority over vengefulness shows through. If the one who sings prays twice, then the one will also hurt twice, who insists on suffering and punishment, rather than a more ‘restorative’ sort of justice.
Many of us have grown up with a fairly comfortable and comforting appreciation of Creation, (or Creation Spirituality etc) as a soft option. Those times are past, though the refreshment and inspiration we may yet receive in encounter with nature will be vital to our ability to act.
If you’re in love with Creation, what you create will speak more clearly. Being built up in joy and hope is what is distinctive to the eyes-wide-open work of the church, when doom and gloom could be our only response to current events.
‘Stewardship Christianity’ is now at least 6 years past its sell-by date. The medieval concept of ‘stewardship’ gained renewed popularity as a softening counterpoint to inadequate readings of the responsibility implied by being ‘set over’ other creatures in Genesis 1:26 etc, though it also led us to a relative detachment: looking after someone else’s property, or worse, receiving the whole Earth as a ‘gift’, rather than the sort of existential engagement implied by John 10. We are not mere ‘hired hands’: the care of Life is our family business. We are the gift given to the earth.
Steer clear too, please, of the suggestion that Creation is “made only for us”, or that we are the pinnacle of God’s achievement, the be-all and end-all of what has come to be. If in doubt, read the final chapters of Job. The gift of a habitat to one species ( ourselves included ) does not mean the dispossession of another.
And yet, also beware of a tendency to see humanity as the virus infesting the earth. We have a place, and a special one, and Pope Francis and others make a very strong case for the inseparability of concern for Creation and the fight against poverty. I would add that it is now legitimate to broaden an appreciation of ‘love for neighbour’ to love for fellow creature, and certainly no worse than the narrowing of what we mean by “the world” to humans alone.
Church of Scotland Weekly Worship Brief ( annotated)
Weekly Worship, based on the Revised Common Lectionary, is offered to those who are creating and leading worship – in any capacity – and provides resources that can be used in worship in all settings or adapted to a particular context, equipping and encouraging worship leaders to become more creative.
Users of this resource will be encouraged to develop their own worship practice by reflecting on the writers’ insights into how they prepare to write the material and their imaginative approaches to creating and delivering worship in the different contexts we find ourselves in the wake of Covid-19.
250 – 500 words for each lectionary reading
Provide thoughts or a brief exegesis on the background of each of the scripture passages and the ways you approached the texts. This is an opportunity to demonstrate different ways of engaging with the passage(s) and themes. For example:
What in the text really piqued your interest or curiosity?
Where did your curiosity lead you?
What questions arose that helped you to shape your material?
SERMON IDEAS: 250 – 500 words
You are not expected to write a full sermon here, but to suggest themes and how to link them together, and reflect on how the passages resonate today. Include a few sentences on your approach to writing this section and any useful experiences of delivering your ‘sermon’ ideas in a worship gathering.
Not all gatherings include a sermon; people engage with scripture in different ways so you are encouraged to include alternative approaches that might be used, e.g. Q&As, conversations in groups, or other ways to approach scripture and share learning.
Provide each of the prayers indicated below and write a few sentences describing your approach to writing the prayers. For example, using the newspaper to guide your thoughts around current events, speaking to people in the community, or simply taking time to reflect; leading to your response with these specific prayers.
You may also wish to comment on the language used in the prayers, such as specific ways of addressing God (e.g. Spirit/breath/wind) or a particular writing style. This provides guidance for those creating or leading worship and helpful material for developing their own prayers in their specific context.
Approach to God
***FORGIVENESS/ASSURANCE OF PARDON –
WHICH IS EVEN MORE VITAL FOR SEASON OF CREATION
You may also like to include a collect and/or a blessing
Suggest a few hymns, songs, or pieces of music, along with a brief sentence explaining why each one is appropriate and how it might be used in the service.
Please ensure it is readily available and clearly referenced, noting in full the names of hymnbooks or online resources.
You may like to include music that is appropriate for the current context: we are keen to share local practice to broaden and develop the theology and repertoire of music used in worship. Is there an alternative piece of music that gives people the space to respond in their own way to a particular concept or circumstance? Does the music complement the material or open up the worship space, etc.?
NEW MUSIC (this note from David)
It’s unlikely that hymnbooks will provide everything congregations need to sing in the Season of Creation . Whilst it’s good to write something new instead, a couple of hints:
- Don’t just tweak: changing a few words in a well-known hymn just gives more prominence to the words you’re trying to avoid.
- Do use well-know tunes: we want people to be able to sing them, and metrical words can fit in with lots of available tunes
- Sing it through yourself, and preferably road-test it with a congregation, listening for all their feedback, before submitting it for wider use.
Please use gender-neutral, expansive and creative language, especially when referring to God and the Holy Spirit, to make the material more accessible and inclusive.
We use the NRSV, so please specify if you use a different translation.
If you are using quotations, please ensure that all sources are clearly identified and full references given. Material published on the website is subject to the laws of copyright.
Please save your file in the following format: the date you are writing for, your name and the Lectionary reference, e.g., 1 December_Jane Smith_1 of Advent.