Lent is traditionally a time for turning to God in self-examination and repentance. It is a time for adopting practices that draw us closer to God while curbing our tendencies to self-indulgence, and for turning toward others in solidarity and generosity.
A faithful response to the groaning of creation in our time calls for the adoption of these Lenten practices of self-examination, repentance, self-restraint and generosity, while seeking to follow more closely the way of Christ. The growing crises of climate change and plastic pollution, threats to water quality and species at risk, testify to human greed, callousness and love of ease and convenience superseding God’s command for humankind to care for all members of the created community.
Lent offers us the opportunity to examine our lifestyles and practices, both personal and corporate, and find ways to live that honour our interdependence with creation and our dependence upon the Creator. This year, Earth Day (April 22) falls on Easter Monday, which makes observing a “green Lent” a timely preparation for the celebration of Earth Sunday in Eastertide. To that end, the diocese’s Creation Matters committee has prepared a Lent calendar that guides individual Anglicans through reflection on scripture, learning about environmental issues, practical tips for reducing one’s own environmental footprint, invitations to community action, calls to advocate for stronger environmental policy, and opportunities to share our wealth with those who bear the disproportionate burden of climate change and other environmental threats. The calendar is available at www.toronto.anglican.ca/environment.
One of the actions called for in the Lent calendar is to participate in the annual “Give It Up for the Earth!” postcard campaign by Citizens for Public Justice. This ecumenical coalition of Canadian churches has run the campaign since 2017, inviting Canadian Christians to pledge to reduce their own carbon footprint during Lent while calling on the federal government to implement a robust climate policy. This year’s postcard urges the Prime Minister to end public subsidies on fossil fuels, which amount to about $1.4 billion annually. At the time of writing, 250 postcards have been distributed to a dozen parishes in our diocese. To order more, or to sign the pledge online, please visit www.cpj.ca/fortheearth.
It has been our practice in this diocese over the last decade to observe Earth Sunday on the Sunday nearest to April 22. This year, that would be Easter Sunday, so we anticipate that many clergy will prefer to transfer Earth Sunday to April 28, the Second Sunday of Easter. In addition to the Lent calendar, the Creation Matters committee has compiled a number of other resources to aid parishes in celebrating Earth Sunday. These include reflections on the lectionary for both Easter Sunday and the Second Sunday of Easter, an Earth Sunday Prayers of the People, and a list of suggested hymns.
In addition, the Creation Matters Working Group of the Anglican Church of Canada has also shared resources produced by other dioceses for Lent and Earth Sunday. The Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI, with the assistance of photographer Donna Giles, has created a series of reflections called “Stations of Creation” which invite participants to reflect on scripture, a brief meditation and a photograph at each station. Sue Carson, from the Diocese of Niagara, offers a reflection on the popular hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” Links to these resources can also be found on the Environmental Resources page of our diocese’s website, www.toronto.anglican.ca.
While the season of Lent calls us into repentance for the ways in which we have caused creation to groan, the celebration of Easter reminds us of the promise of what John Wesley called “the general deliverance” – that glorious reconciliation and restoration of all creation through the death and resurrection of Christ. Let these seasons draw us more deeply into God’s love for all that God has made, and teach us to live in right relationship with what Indigenous tradition recognizes as “all our relations.”