Worshiping With Creation
For use with your congregation, Download: Worship Checklist.
In light of the renewed interest in Creator and creation in Bible, theology and ethics and in light the current ecological state of creation, it is time to renew worship in a new key. In worship, we focus on our relationship with God and our neighbor. Now we must also encompass God’s relationship with creation and our relationship with the rest of nature. There is no better place to deepen and expand our faith in these matters than with the gathered community in worship seeking to worship God by giving praise in relationship with creation. The following list of possibilities for renewal is suggestive of actions and resources that might assist you in this endeavor in your congregation. Choose what works best for you, add to the list, and seek to do it all in communion with the love God has for all creation.
1._____Liturgies. E. g. The Greening of the Cross
B. Liturgical features:
1._____Invocation: of God the creator of all things
2. _____Invitation: for all living things to join in praise of God; the choir of creation
3._____Confession and absolution: include sins against creation
4._____Hymns: with nature themes
5._____Scripture/Psalms (highlight the presence of nature)
6._____Preaching care for creation
7._____Prayers: thanksgiving for and petitions on behalf of creation
8._____Offerings: time and money for creation-care
9._____Sacraments: Connect to the fruits of the Earth and the sacramental nature of all of life
10.____Blessings: for the thriving of creation
11.____Closing: “Go in peace, serve the Lord, remember the poor, care for creation.”
C. Relate creator and creation to all seasons of the church year:
1._____Advent: await new humanity to care for creation
2._____Christmas: incarnation; Christ in, with, and under all things
3._____Epiphany: manifestations of God’s light and life in creation
4._____Lent: solidarity with suffering Earth, confession, sacrifice for Earth
5._____Easter: celebration of new/renewed creation
6._____Pentecost: Spiritual discipleship and wisdom in caring for creation
D. Occasional services
1. _____Baptism (new creation) and Confirmation (affirming our Earthkeeping vocation)
2. _____Weddings (preparation, service, and reception)
3. _____Funerals (including green burial practices)
E. Season of Creation:
1._____Optional four weeks in church year to celebrate Creator and creation
F. Special days in the church year
1._____Saint Francis day: Blessing of the Animals
2._____Rogation Day: Celebration of harvest
3._____Reformation Day: a new reformation encompassing the restoration of creation
G. Special days of celebration
2._____Earth Day Sunday
H. Special rituals
1._____Blessing of gardens
I. Worship in relation to nature
1._____Worship services outside
2._____Name, celebrate, and worship with animals/plants of “earth community” on church property
3._____Provide contemplative location/ meditation garden/ labyrinth
J. Devotional resources
1._____Common prayers for church dinners
2._____Devotions/prayers for meetings
1._____Life in worship: (air-purifying) plants and trees (as fellow worshippers)
2._____Material symbols: water, rock, tree, grain and grapes.
3._____Banners: e. g. “Let all creation Praise”
4._____Artistic symbols: paraments, seasons, bulletin designs
5._____Earth Sounds: rain, river, wind in trees.
6._____Pictures of nature projected onto wall or screen
7._____Display nature art
8._____Life in worship: animals—gerbils, birds, fish? (as fellow worshippers)
L. Earth-Friendly Worship Practices
1._____Living flowers or plants on the altar to be kept or planted later outside.
2._____Beeswax candles rather than (oil-based) paraffin wax candles.
3._____Local wine for communion
4._____Practice intinction or have re-usable glasses (not plastic) for communion.
5._____Wash communion vessels/ glasses with eco-safe dish-washing detergent.
6._____Provide communion bread of whole grain, organic and locally grown.
7._____Purchase fair trade palm fronds for Palm Sunday.
8._____Limit or eliminate use of paper for bulletins. Re-use where possible.
9.____Use post-consumer waste/ recycled paper for bulletins.
10.____Place attractive basket near exit from sanctuary for recycling worship materials.
11.____Consider the origin of the paraments made for worship—material, fair trade.
12.____Use outside light where feasible.
13.____Use outside air and fans instead of air conditioner where feasible.
14.____Use live Christmas tree and then plant on church property.
15.____Green decorations for holidays, e. g. decorative materials, LED lights
16.____Safe disposal of batteries from wireless microphones.
1._____Read and discuss resources on the theology of worship
2._____Explanatory comment on worship practices as they are introduced
N. Resources for Worship and Study
Ben Stewart, A Watered Garden: Christian Worship and Earth’s Ecology (Fortress Press, 2011)
Norman Habel, David Rhoads, and Paul Santmire, editors. The Season of Creation: A Preacher’s Commentary (Fortress, 2011) .
Paul Santmire. Ritualizing Nature: Renewing Christian Liturgy in a Time of Crisis (Fortress Press, 2008)
Gordon Lathrop. Holy Ground: A Liturgical Cosmology (Fortress Press, 2003)
Sam Hamilton-Poore, Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation (Upper Room, 2008)
See our worship theology page for information about these books.
www.seasonofcreation.com Official site for the optional four-week Season of Creation
Worship Resources >