Moved to love
The Season of Creation is not just about developing environmental awareness and our Christian commitment to care for the Earth. It is, in the first instance, about celebration. And not simply about praising the Creator and giving thanks for Creation as if it were something external to us – inanimate, voiceless, object and not subject – we celebrate as part of a vibrant, living world and cosmos.
For the founders of the Season of Creation, it was important to have a season to celebrate Creation and the Creator – like we celebrate the life of Christ in Advent, Epiphany, Lent and Easter; and the Holy Spirit in Pentecost. Bracketed by Creation Day (September 1) and the feast day of St Francis of Assisi (October 4), the season covers four themed weeks in a three year cycle: Word, Wisdom, Spirit in Creation. In 2015, we observed the themes earth, humanity, sky and mountains (Word series). The Season of Creation has a growing following across the world.
When so much of my life and ministry addresses the deep urgency of our environmental crisis, a response to “Earth’s cry” as pastoral theologian Jan Morgan puts it, I am renewed through the celebratory focus of the Season of Creation. It moves me to surprise, to joy, and to love.
On Creation Day, I was part of a group of people heading to the Leard Forest for a retreat and awareness raiser. The forest is a biodiversity hotspot on the heavily cleared and agriculturally rich Liverpool Plain. Since the mid 2000s, the Leard has been subject to extensive clearing for three open cut coalmines. Birdsong, the bright glory of wattles, the unique white box gums, the splendour of the nearby Nandewar Range: I felt love for that place. The love and grief of many are held together there.
At my church at South Sydney, we had a guest preacher for each week during the season. We progressively added to a collaborative artwork, representing the web of life. We arranged the pews in a spiral, a double movement of life and faith, spiralling inward and out. And on Sky Sunday, we headed outdoors into our community garden for much of our service. Touched by light rain, we shared our responses to the day’s preacher in small groups, wrote our prayers on prayer flags, and shared in the Eucharist.
On October 4, as we do every year on the first Sunday in October, we celebrated the lives of Clare and Francis of Assisi, held a blessing of animals, and collected donations for charity (Monika’s Doggie Rescue this year). During the service I had the great joy of watching my rescued dog, Rango, make two new doggie friends. He showed playfulness of a sort that I’d only previously seen him display with humans.
Celebrating the Season of Creation opens us up to the unexpected. Heading outdoors means that we have less control of the space. Being restricted to a spiral format opens us to surprises that come through discipline. And inviting dogs into worship space inevitably means a degree of chaos. I’ve heard a story from another church who put fish in their baptismal font – from which the fish promptly erupted onto the floor. God’s vibrant creatures!
And so the Season of Creation has ended for another year. On 7 October I attended the Sydney premiere of Black Hole, a documentary film about the Leard Forest, told in the voices of Gomeroi traditional owners, farmers, forest protectors, and others. I was moved by the deep love expressed for the forest and all who depend on it, and for the generations who are yet to come. An abiding image for me is a young Gomeroi boy. With tears streaming down his face, he said that this place is amazing, and if people only knew, they wouldn’t destroy it, guaranteed.
To find out more about Season of Creation resources, visit the website
For more about the documentary about the Leard Forest – Black Hole — visit the website
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