Decorating the sanctuary for Christmas 2017.
When I was in college I worked as a camp counselor at a Lutheran outdoor camp in Kansas. Each evening we would take the campers on a trek up a steep hill to hold worship around a campfire overlooking a beautiful valley. As we sang, read scripture, and prayed we would watch as the sky seemed to harmonize with us, singing praises to God with it’s vibrant colors and light. The brilliance of a Kansas sunset gave glory to God our Creator who had walked alongside us all day long. And if you sat in JUST the right spot you could watch the silhouette of a cross appear amidst the colorful tapestry of the evening sky.
It was in those moments on that hill that I felt like I was worshipping God WITH creation. I was a partner in praising God, I was a companion with creation, I was connected to other beings that God birthed into existence. It made me feel a part of something really BIG. I wonder if you have ever had a time where you’ve felt as though you were worshipping with creation? Where were you? What was it like?
During the month of September we are going to focus on worshipping with creation during our Sunday morning services. We will join with congregations from around the world of various denominations for four weeks in the church year to celebrate the Season of Creation. We will join together to celebrate the mysteries and wonders of creation with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. In a special way, the Season of Creation follows the lead of the psalmists who exhort us to celebrate together with creation – with the forest, the rivers, and the fields who praise the Creator in their own way. We celebrate with the creatures God has created as our kin on this blue green planet.
As we celebrate, we empathize with those parts of creation—human and non-human—that are groaning because of human crimes against creation. And, especially, we celebrate the Christ, whose death brings forgiveness for our sins against creation and whose risen presence is the cosmic power at work in reconciling and restoring creation.
What is the Season of Creation?
The Season of Creation is an optional season for the church year. For the most part, the seasons of the church year follow the life of Jesus: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter. The remainder of the church year encompasses Pentecost Season, which celebrates life in the Holy Spirit.
There is no focus in the church year on God the creator, no opportunity to reflect in a concentrated way on the foundations of redemption and sanctification, namely, the very creation itself that is redeemed and sanctified. For centuries, our theology, our ethics, and our worship have been oriented in two dimensions: our relationship with God and our human relationships with one another. Now it is time to turn our attention to God’s relationship with all creation and with our relationship with creation (and with God through creation).
How Does it Fit in the Calendar of a church year?
The Season of Creation is a relatively new season of the church year, a season that is also known in the church bodies of some countries as “Creation Time.” As an optional season, the Season of Creation can be celebrated at different points in the church year. Most commonly it has been celebrated between Creation Day on September 1 and St Francis of Assisi Day on October 4. In this scenario, the four Sundays in September are the core Sundays of the Season of Creation. Nevertheless, the Season of Creation can be celebrated appropriately in the Easter Season or at other times in the Pentecost Season. Some congregations have spread the celebration of the four Sundays throughout the church year.
What should I expect?
For four Sundays in September we will lift up a different theme that is a part of God’s creation. This year, in cycle B of the lectionary, we will celebrate – Planet Earth Sunday, Humanity Sunday, Sky Sunday, and Mountain Sunday. In song, scripture, prayer and sacraments we will worship with creation and lift up different ways of caring for these aspects of creation. The conclusion of the season will end with a celebration of a Blessing of the Animals service with our neighbor’s at St. Alfred’s Episcopal. Read more about that service in this newsletter!
I invite you to join us with our brothers and sisters of creation to give thanks to God for creating, redeeming, and sustaining. And I hope you’re able to go outside today and experience the glory of God in our natural world. I’m going to go look for a sunset!
St. Mark is a Reconciling in Christ Congregation.
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