Season of Creation is a time to reflect, pray, act and renew our relationship with our Creator and all of creation. In this Season of Creation let us all pray for the earth and work towards climate justice. Let us all care for God’s creation before it is too late.
Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed September 1 as a day of prayer for creation for the Orthodox in 1989. The World Council of Churches helped extend the Season of Creation from September 1 to October 4 which is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. Pope Francis made the Season of Creation official in 2015.
Christians around the globe have now embraced the season as part of their annual calendar as we heed the urgent cry to save the earth.
Let us celebrate this Season of Creation and work together for climate justice.
This year’s theme:
“Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”
Below is my post from the World Council of Churches
by Grace Ji-Sun Kim — last modified 23 October 2019 03:58 PM
23 October 2019
As the earth undergoes the extreme stress of 21st century living, we are met with the consequential crossroads that will shape the rest of our lives and the future of humanity. How can we make such monumental decisions when this much is at stake? Which way do we go forth, and how shall we live our lives in the years to come? The answer may be as simple as urgency. We need to mobilize now, plan for today, have conversations about what we should do in the present to address the catastrophic climate situation. We are approaching the two-degrees-Celsius danger zone. Scientists warn us that earth’s average global warming must stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius if we want to avoid environmental damage that will, among other things, cause hundreds of thousands of species to go extinct, destruct coastal life from natural disasters, and displace the rapidly growing human population into limited geographies as climate refugees.
World leaders, politicians, educators, and religious figures have been faced with this issue for some time, yet destructive ecological practices—out of convenience and ignorance—have continued to perpetuate. Leaders in all institutions need to reinvigorate their behavior and their message to address the plights of today; they need challenge what we think we may know and prove otherwise by example.
Christians understood themselves as the highest form of God’s creation. In this elevated role, they dominated the earth, creating havoc on the planet. Guided by this belief and ideology, humanity began to take everything we wanted for our own use, often with little regard for the consequences, going beyond need-based use to explicit exploitation with the aim of satisfying our desire for greater wealth and material attainment. Moving forward, we can look to other organizations that are taking action to fight for climate justice.
Currently, there are notable religious groups actively engaging in attending to this cause, and have begun to centre their work around climate change. One such organization is the World Council of Churches (WCC). Members of the WCC Working Group on Climate Change met in Taiwan, 24-27 June 2019 to strategize for the future and establish the forthcoming work that pursues the slowing of climate change and fortifying methods for climate justice. This is going to be implemented on a domestic and global scale. This was the first time that the working group also met with the WCC’s Indigenous Peoples’ Programme Reference Group to explore how the two groups can work in union to achieve common goals. The reference group seeks to create transcendent community networks, advocate for indigenous peoples’ rights, and raise awareness of indigenous peoples’ spiritualities and theologies. Indigenous peoples have long been stripped of their most basic human rights and liberties, so it is time to fight for the rightful return of their freedom, peace, and security as distinct peoples as they continue to face threats to their survival as communities.
As the meeting proceeded, it became clear that we cannot fight against climate change without the involvement of indigenous peoples. Members of the reference group reminded us that native peoples have been fighting climate change since before the beginning of colonization by European powers. They have valuable experience fighting governments, corporate power, and modern threats that continue to invade and pollute their land and abuse stolen resources to the extreme.
Indigenous groups have long been calling governments, religious groups, and communities to work together to stabilize the climate and attain some justice for their abused land. Furthermore, indigenous groups are the most affected demographic by climate change as the majority of these communities are agricultural, rather than industrial. Climate change has an immediate impact on their livelihood. Climate change causes erosion of land, water pollution, water shortage, air pollution, and the migration of animals. The disruption of any of these distinct factors will change the ecosystems that have lasted for centuries irreparably. Indigenous peoples have been affected the most by colonialism as white settlers and colonizers took away indigenous lands and cultures and carried out genocide of the native peoples. Colonialism has allowed for and encouraged large corporations to expropriate and exploit indigenous land while heavily polluting the surrounding environment, proximally close and distant. Indigenous peoples have been giving us warnings for many years about the nature of this destruction, and it is time that we heed their warnings and take action.
A global point of view must gather many different experiences and arrive at a common voice and approach. Analysts of imperialism need to hear and heed the testimony of indigenous voices.
Indigenous people have a particular understanding of climate justice because it is an integral way of spiritual being that is widely ignored or trivialized by the rest of the world. Indigenous peoples cannot divorce the present day land from the land of their ancestors, as their ancestors’ spirits roam the land with its peoples, conversing with them and guiding them. Indigenous people remind us that the spirit exists within all things, and that the spirit reminds us that animal populations often embody a spiritual aspect, making their preservation equitable in value to that of human lives.
Indigenous groups remind us of the interconnectedness of spirit and nature. Christianity rejected this idea in favor of dualism, a divide between spirit and body, or between spirit and the natural world. This divide has had consequences as Christians continued to state that the body/nature was bad, and the spirit is good without ever seeing the interconnectedness of the spirit—the notion that the body/nature and are actually one. We have neglected to see the spirit as part of the natural world. While animism or shamanism had hinted at such an understanding, Christians viewed these ideas as heathen mistakes. This has had negative consequences for the natural world. We have forgotten and denied that the Spirit of God the Creator resides in all of creation and taking care of it needs to be our top priority. We need to incorporate this understanding and move away from dualism. This will help us understand how we can be part of the solution of climate change.
This understanding connects us to land and spirit. It incites us to re-evaluate the rules of the household so that we can respect one another and all of creation; we do this in the hope of living together in a world less pained, in a world of greater peace. It reminds us that there needs to be equity, respect for the land, and a transformation of humanity by the Spirit. It reminds us that all life is precious, and all faith communities must stand in solidarity with indigenous groups and be at the frontlines of fighting climate change.
Indigenous peoples remind us that spirituality comes from the natural world we live in, a place that encompasses all we need: the water, land, air, and all that lives therein. On behalf of indigenous peoples, we need to heed their call to save the planet. All are vulnerable at this time, but colonialism has made indigenous peoples the most vulnerable, and we need to stand in solidarity with them and fight for the planet’s future.
The two groups, the Working Group on Climate Change and the Indigenous Peoples’ Programme Reference Group of the WCC need to work together to build a stronger community to work for climate justice. The road ahead is not easy, but it is necessary as we need serious groups committed to climate justice. We need to continue to advocate for policies that protect the planet, and be challengers to the powerful institutions and corporations that are destroying our world. Climate justice is not an abstract concept, or an elitist issue, this is the issue— the one that is most pertinent to every living being on our planet; the one that has governance on the earth as we know it; our planet is real, and if you believe this much than you must know that the destruction is as well.
We cannot live oblivious to the indigenous peoples who describe for us the impact of our actions on creation. We cannot turn away from the reality of vanishing species among the animals with whom we share this planet. We cannot ignore the painful cries coming from the earth being manifested in mega-storms, severe droughts, rising sea levels, melting icebergs, increasing temperatures, and deadly forest fires. We need to heed these warnings and move towards a sustainability, conscious lifestyles, and proactive education that respects God’s creation, uplifts indigenous peoples’ rights, and embraces the life-giving spirit which fills all of creation.
You can read my Faith and Leadership Post on Earth Day
Schoolchildren in central London staged a sitdown protest over climate change near Downing Street in February 2019. Photo by Ben Gingelge
In our current ecological crisis, we must emphasize humanity’s role as both stewards and creatures in God’s creation, writes a theologian.TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2019
Earth Day is April 22, and people around the world will be spending the day promoting environmental awareness and sustainability. In some ways, the success of Earth Day — created in the U.S. in 1970 — is heartening; nearing its 50th anniversary, the event is now celebrated in some 200 countries.
Yet I also have to wonder: How did we come to the point where we have to set aside a day to remember the earth?
Human beings, called to be stewards of the earth, have in fact become a danger to it. Today, we are witnesses to the profound effects of heedless human activity; our actions have resulted in climate change, arguably the most significant environmental change the earth has endured in hundreds of thousands of years.
As Christians, we need to recognize that this ecological crisis is also a theological crisis.
Scripture talks about the goodness of creation, and the creation story in Genesis offers us an idea of our role in it. Genesis 1:31 says: “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (NLT). And in Genesis 2:15, we find that God put Adam in the garden of Eden to take care of it.
As we consider our role as stewards, we need to examine the relationship between the doctrine of creation and the doctrine of humanity. Sallie McFague, an ecofeminist theologian, argues that we need to reimagine God’s creation as part of God’s body.
McFague points out that we are animals, bodies dependent on other bodies, incarnational beings at the mercy of the many sources of power on our planet — among them, climate change. From this perspective, we are not just the agents of climate change; we, as God’s creatures, are also its victims.
Perhaps this reimagining can help us change our course and shift it away from ecological disaster. As we reimagine the cosmos as God’s body, what does that imply for our theology?
Until now, we have set humanity over the entirety of creation, reasoning from a sense of species entitlement. Because human beings are created in the image of God, the logic goes, humans are more valuable than any other life form on the planet. Yet we see that elevating humanity as more-than has been detrimental to the planet and to ourselves.
There is no special day in the Bible for the creation of human beings; we were created on the same day as the animals. We all share the biosphere. In the current ecological crisis, it is necessary to emphasize humanity’s role as creature, not creator. Human beings, bearers of God’s image, have been given a special role as caretakers. But being fashioned and commissioned in the image of God is not the same thing as being God.
Creation itself is the body of God, and we ought to take care of the earth as we would care for God’s body. We are partners in creation, and we need to consider its well-being as a whole.
Further, environmental well-being is intimately related to economic well-being. It is a matter of justice, because the people affected most by ecological disaster are those who live in poverty.
I am part of the World Council of Churches (WCC) working group on climate change.(link is external) The group’s 27 members from around the world reflect theologically on climate change, speak out on environmental issues and advocate for sustainable living.
To emphasize the link between environmental and economic justice, the WCC has adopted the term “eco-justice” for its approach, implemented across several projects and initiatives. The Ecumenical Water Network of the WCC, for example, emphasizes that access to clean water is a human right.
This is an issue that young people are embracing. On March 15, youth around the globe went on strike to protest government and corporate inaction on climate change. The movement began last summer with Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who called for action from her peers. This year, youth from more than 100 countries participated in the protest, and in the U.S., events were planned in almost every state.
The youth are making a clear statement: We need to act now before it is too late. They are the ones who will have to live with the actions or inactions of their predecessors, and they are fighting for the attention of those who will listen.
I see this in my own children as they try to live sustainably. My teenage daughter Elisabeth has become especially active on environmental issues. She and other students at her school learned that tangles of fishing line were hurting wildlife in the streams near the school.
She helped establish an initiative to generate awareness and create convenient monofilament receptacles for fishers’ discarded lines. After receiving approval from the city parks department, she and a group of students applied for grants to install these receptacles this spring.
As youth around the globe protest the devastating effects of climate change, we need to reflect and challenge what people of faith are doing — or not doing.
Earth’s biosphere needs all of us to join together to work toward environmental justice. We need to advocate for our planet and be at peace with it. We need to bring Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, individuals, communities, governments, churches and corporations together and challenge each other to lives of stewardship rather than greedy destruction.
We need to seek ways of reducing carbon emissions in our homes as well as our places of work, recreation and worship. What happens in our backyard is not contained: China’s pollution-choked air is carried by the wind to other lands; America’s toxic chemical runoff finds its way to distant shores.
We must be vigilant in our actions and think of those who will inevitably have to face a perilous earth in the near future. We must act now, because tomorrow will be too late.
As stewards of the earth, humans are called by God to live sustainably and work toward creation care. We all have a part to play. This Earth Day, how will you live out God’s call?