Churches pray and care for creation
Every year, from September 1 to October 4, parishes and congregations in various parts of the world consecrate some time to reflect, celebrate and organise activities in relation to creation.
As of 2008, the WCC has invited churches to observe Time for Creation through prayers and actions. Over the years, especially through contributions from churches in the Pacific, Africa and Latin America, materials have been offered through the WCC website.
This year, having been declared as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, the WCC is encouraging churches to focus on this topic. “In a world where energy is a critical issue, it is worth reflecting on it from a theological perspective”, says Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice. “Energy can be related to the Holy Spirit, to God’s grace in us, to the action of the triune God in creation. As St Gregory Palamas, a monk from Mount Athos from the 14th century, stated, ‘God is in the universe and the universe is within God…. Thus all things participate in Godʼs sustaining energy.’ In practical ways, green churches and eco-congregations are especially looking at energy use.”
After European churches were asked to provide resources this year, various materials from the European Christian Environmental Network, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, the Church of Scotland and others are available at WCC’s Time for Creation website.
As has been the case since 1989, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has delivered a message for September 1 on the protection on the environment. In 1989, the late Patriarch Dimitrios I wrote, in part, “We must attempt to return to a proper relationship with the Creator and the creation. This may mean that just as a shepherd will, in times of greatest hazard, lay down his life for his flock, so human beings may need to forego a part of their wants and needs in order that the survival of the natural world can be assured. This is a new situation – a new challenge. It calls for humanity to bear some of the pain of creation as well as to enjoy and celebrate it. It calls first and foremost for repentance – but of an order not previously understood by many.”
This year, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople especially prays “that our gracious Lord, who granted this earthly paradise to all people dwelling on our planet, will speak to the hearts of everyone so that we may respect the ecological balance that He offered in His wisdom and goodness, so that both we and future generations will enjoy His gifts with thanksgiving and glorification.”