September 1 is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Borrowing from the Catholic tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours, I hope you take the time to pray several times a day this weekend for this wonderful world that God created. The following is a suggested prayer guide.
At the beginning of the day, all is fresh and new.The colors of the dawn call us to celebrate the beauty of creation. Morning is a great time to give thanks to the Creator. Let us take time to thank the Lord for the rising sun, for the dew that brings moisture to the smallest creatures, for the colors of flowers and trees and grass, for the wind that freshens. We give thanks for this planet that God blessed with all teaming life, with fish of the sea and birds of the air. We give thanks for food that grows in its season. We give thanks for the land, water, and sky that God saw as good.
In the busy-ness of the day, let us not forget to pray for our government leaders and agency directors as they consider creation in the laws and directives under their control. Not only creation, but the health of our children and grandchildren is at stake. From the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Agriculture. From state and regional planning organizations to the President of the United States. Care for creation isn’t a one-day issue, or something that only tree-huggers think about. The air we breathe today moves around the world tomorrow. The water that flows out of our cities crashes in waves onto the shores of beaches far away. The dust from farms struggling under the ravages of drought is swept away days later in another town. Laws matter. Policies matter. Pray for those in positions to make laws and policies – that they will consider the lives of the people and all of creation that will be affected.
As we eat our lunches, let us remember to pray for those around the world who do not have enough to eat, especially those impacted by drought, war, or lack of funds. We ask for forgiveness as we continue to waste 30-40% of our food here in the US (https://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/faqs.htm). We pray for fresh awareness of our own wasteful habits and ask for courage to take steps to make needed changes. We pray that more and more people will give of their time and resources to insure that there is enough to eat for everyone tomorrow, next week, next year, and in the decades to come.
In the afternoon, many of us hit that wall at work. We need a nap or maybe an extra shot of caffeine. During this time of day, let us pray for that part of creation that is being destroyed by climate change. An environmental tragedy is happening now, and many of us have become numb to the daily news reports of the increasingly horrific effects of environmental degradation. Instead of hiding from the news, let us mourn together the current loss of species, habitats, and lives. Instead of napping today, pray instead that more and more people step up now to try and stop the environmental tragedy that is upon us. Let us pray to the Lord for forgiveness for our responsibility in causing this calamity. Let us pray that more Christians come forward and take the lead in caring for God’s creation.
At the end of a day’s work, let us lift our prayers for the water that surrounds us. Water symbolizes baptism and rebirth, healing and renewal, creation and order from chaos. Water ebbs and flows – it is a living, moving thing. It sustains us and all life on earth. It cleanses us and makes us new. But water also rages and damages. Hurricanes and storms flood our land. People dump all kinds of chemicals into it, hoping to hide them from others. Corporations and governments try to hoard or control it, impeding its life-giving stream from reaching people and creatures that need it. Climate change threatens the natural ebb and flow with increased storms, rising waters, and acid rain. At the end of our work day, let us pray for the lives of those affected by the misuse of water; pray for the workers seeking to bring justice and healing to all of God’s creation; pray that we will become better advocates for the poor and marginalized; and pray with thanksgiving for the God of all of us.
We care for creation because God cares for creation! We were all created in the image of God – an image of love, grace, creativity, strength, wisdom, and forgiveness. There is nothing in God that speaks to abusing people or creation. There is nothing in God that is wasteful or polluting. There is nothing in God that expects care of creation to follow party lines. Instead, our God expects us to love and care for creation as much as we love the Lord. As we prepare for bed, let us pray to have the mind of Christ – a mind who considered the poor and marginalized of society first; the one who went to the mountains to pray; the one who called us to remember him through the bread and wine of nature; and one who died and rose again so that we might live. Let us pray for the care of creation – for the entire created world!
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)