Churches around the world will be participating in an ecumenical Season of Creation, to be held from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4. Delegates to General Synod in 2019 overwhelmingly supported a resolution to adopt the Season of Creation in the Anglican Church of Canada as an annual time of prayer, education and action. It also encouraged dioceses to engage with it.
This year, the heads of the Anglican and Lutheran national churches in Canada and the U.S. have come together to create a resource for it. The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Most Rev. Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church and Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have prepared devotional reflections for each Sunday in the season. Each reflection touches on the lectionary readings for the day, and each leader has suggested hymns that speak to our spiritual connection with God’s creation and our divine calling to care for that creation.
“This is a time for renewing, repairing and restoring our commitments to God, to one another and to all of creation – relationships at the heart of Christian discipleship,” say the national bishops. “Our stewardship of the earth is not bound by national or ecclesiastical borders, but by our common baptism. By enriching our spirits together, we become emboldened as disciples of Christ and enlivened in our witness to the One, who came to redeem all of creation.”
The resource can be downloaded at www.anglican.ca/publicwitness/ season-of-creation/. Additional liturgical resources and hymn recommendations can also be found on that page.
Several parishes in our diocese have taken up the observance of the season. The Church of the Redeemer, Bloor Street has held special events and services since 2018. Parishioner Grant Jahnke, now co-chair of the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care, feels that it has transformed and enlivened the congregation. St. Aidan in the Beach is following up its Green Lent programming and summer book study with ambitious plans for the Season of Creation. It plans to include outdoor activities like a lakeshore hike, hosting guest speakers or podcasts, and liaising with the Toronto Environmental Alliance on advocacy campaigns. All of these activities can be safely done under the COVID-19 restrictions. John Brewin, a member of the parish’s Eco-spirituality Committee, says the parish has been steadily incorporating creation care as a core element of its spirituality and ethos.
While COVID-19 has preoccupied many of us with concerns around parish re-opening, health and even survival, creation continues both to inspire us with assurance of God’s providence and call us to repent and reframe our lives as it groans in travail. Longer and hotter heat waves – affecting everyone from southern Canada to the Arctic – and more intense storms remind us that the climate crisis has not gone away, despite our reduced travel. The proliferation of disposables, including masks and gloves that are needed to slow the spread of the virus, can be seen in the litter and pollution along our sidewalks, green spaces and waterways.
And yet, amidst the anxiety-provoking headlines, more and more of us are stopping to observe the birds. Downloads of bird-identification apps and people sharing sightings of the birds in their yards and local parks have exploded over the past weeks and months. More people are delighting in their own and their neighbour’s gardens as flowers break into bloom, and growing one’s own vegetables is, literally, grounding – offering people a tangible connection with the earth as well as food to sustain them.
“The cycles of the natural world haven’t been marred by the coronavirus, and witnessing that gives us a sense of hope and even reassurance in this dark and chaotic time,” says Julia Zarankin in a Globe and Mail op-ed. Similarly, Jesus in the gospels urges us to consider the birds of the air and lilies of the field, to set aside our worries and remember that God is the ground of our being and the source of all we need.
As we reflect on our connection with creation and the Creator during this Season of Creation, may we also move into a deeper understanding of our calling to tend and care for the earth and all her children.
Visit our webpage, www.toronto. anglican.ca/environment, to learn how our diocese and Christians across Canada are heeding the call to care for creation and how you can be involved.