Season of Creation taking root

Volunteers pose with garden rakes
From left, Ruth Hayes, Sylvie Thériault, Alexander Petrie and William Petrie spread mulch around the grounds of St. Joseph of Nazareth, Bramalea.
 on September 1, 2021

Anglicans renewing connection to earth

Imagine that you are sitting on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the land in which you find your home. As you see the streams flowing down the hillside, you give thanks to God for the white pine and sugar maple that these waters nourish. You reflect on the mourning doves and finches that nest in those trees, on the badgers that live in the rocky banks, on the goats that call the hillside home. 

Perhaps you are watching the sunset and imagining God’s care moving across the sky day by day. As night falls, you reflect on the animals that will emerge in the darkness: the coyotes and wolves, the raccoons and skunks. You marvel at how God has provided not only a place but a time to be at home for all creatures. And you give thanks that everything is upheld by the life-giving Spirit of the creator God. 

This is the kind of reflection we find in Psalm 104, written over 2,000 years ago. It is the kind of reflection the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island engaged in for thousands of years. And it is the kind of reflection that is increasingly difficult for many of us in our day and age. We don’t know the names of the trees that are fed by the streams, nor the birds that nest in them. We have also covered those streams over, dammed them up and silenced their voices. Not only do we not know the habits of the animals that are at home in the dark; we have blurred the line between night and day, disrupting the lifeways of the insects, turtles and frogs that depend on the darkness. 

We have not only embraced a lifestyle that is largely unaware of the workings of the land, plants, trees and other creatures; our theological traditions have reinforced this disconnection with the earth. Emphasizing a heavenly afterlife and privileging an inner spirituality, we have largely forgotten that we are adam – that is, earth-creature, created from adamah, the earth (Genesis 2:7). We have forgotten that we were called to serve and observe the creation (Genesis 2:15). We have forgotten that the biblical story ends not with a vision of heaven, light years away, but with God coming to dwell with us on a renewed earth, a vision of resurrection hope.

Such forgetfulness, we are reminded again and again in the Bible, can only lead to disaster. When we forget that the land is a gift from the Creator (Leviticus 25:23), we begin to treat it as a commodity that can be exploited and consumed. When we forget that the trees praise God (Isaiah 55:12), we are casual about destroying our forests. When we forget that each animal has been given a home in mountains, trees or rivers (Psalm 104.10-18; Job 38-39), we mine the mountains and dam the rivers, leaving them homeless.

But creation won’t let us forget. Creation responds with heat, fire, drought, flood. When we forget that we are earth-creature from the earth, disaster is the result.

The Season of Creation is an opportunity for us to remember our calling and identity as earth-creatures. This worldwide ecumenical movement is observed by Anglican, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christians around the world. It begins on Sept. 1 and extends until Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis. It is a season to renew our relationship with creation through celebration, conversation and commitment.

Given that September is a busy time for parishes in the diocese, some churches begin the celebration of Season of Creation on the Feast of St. Francis. In this way, our traditional Thanksgiving services become part of this season as well.

What does the Season of Creation look like in churches in our diocese?

1. Liturgy: Many churches celebrate this season with a special focus on creation in one or more of their worship services. Those that use the Revised Common Lectionary readings for the day will often follow the theme that has been chosen by the ecumenical church. Focusing on the urgent need to heal our relationship with creation, this year’s theme emphasizes how the earth is a home for all. The website has more information on the theme, including homily notes and a Sunday liturgy that includes prayers influenced by Indigenous traditions, with the input of Archbishop Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop.

Some churches create their own liturgical themes for the four weeks and choose biblical readings that resonate with those themes. Some of these liturgies can be found at, along with other intercessory prayers, collects and lectionary readings for Sunday use. 

2. Delight: The Season of Creation is a good time to intentionally delight in the beauty of creation as a community by taking a hike together, engaging in an intergenerational outing to a nearby river or shoreline, watch a salmon run, do a bit of forest bathing or have a church picnic at a conservation area or local park. 

3. Education: Learning about the wonderful diversity of creation is another way parishes can celebrate this season. If you’re in the GTA, you might consider taking the audio walking tour of the six positivity gardens at Evergreen Brickworks. Or ask someone from a local horticultural or field naturalist society to take you on a tour of the wetlands, forests or birds in your neighbourhood. Plan an event to learn more about Indigenous views of creation, or about the Indigenous history of your parish.

4. Action: During the Season of Creation, some parishes have started processes to assess their use of plastic, planted trees and engaged in advocacy for local wetlands threatened by development. Appropriate action is often spurred on by specific need.

One action rooted in the Season of Creation that can bear fruit throughout the year is to begin the planning and first steps for a community garden or pollinator garden on your church grounds. Planning and preparing beds in the fall, and maybe even sowing some seeds or putting in perennials, will give these gardens a head start in the spring. Check out the community garden toolkit on the Creation Care page of the diocese’s website for more guidance. 

However your parish decides to celebrate the Season of Creation, remembering that our Creator formed us from the earth and called us to care for it provides us with a vision for reconciliation with our creational home. 

Sylvia Keesmaat is a member of the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care. 


  • Sylvia Keesmaat

    Sylvia Keesmaat is one of the volunteer co-chairs of the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care and the founder of the learning community Bible Remixed,

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