Season Of Creation

The Season of Creation is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through repenting, repairing, and rejoicing together. During the Season of Creation, we join our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home.

This year, amid crises that have shaken our world, we’re awakened to the urgent need to heal our relationships with creation and each other. During the season this year, we enter a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth, that requires radically new ways of living with creation.

The Season of Creation unites the world’s 2.2 billion Christians around one shared purpose. With so much injustice all around us, now is the time for Christians everywhere to come together and show the world how to love each other and creation.

Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope

Each year, the ecumenical steering committee suggests a theme to unify Christian communities in their celebration of the season.

For the 2020 Season of Creation, the suggested theme is “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope

Christians around the world will use this period to renew their relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment.

This is a time to consider the integral relationship between the rest for the Earth and ecological, economic, social, and political ways of living.

This particular year, the need for just and sustainable systems has been revealed by the far-reaching effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We yearn for the moral imagination that accompanies the Jubilee.

As followers of Christ from around the globe, we share a common role as caretakers of God’s creation. We rejoice in this opportunity to care for our common home and the sisters and brothers who share it.

The ecumenical steering committee that plans and promotes the season each year put it this way:

The Season of Creation is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together. We join our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home. It is a time of prayer, contemplation and, increasingly, calls to action.

The Season of Creation is supported by a number of leading Christian organizations, including the World Council of Churches, Christian Aid, the Lutheran World Federation, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, the Global Catholic Climate Movement and the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. Each sits on the Season of Creation steering committee.

Ok, well, when is this season?

The Season of Creation spans 34 days.

It begins on 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. It concludes on 4 October, the feast of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology.

As it happens, the season aligns with the fall harvest season — a time when the state of the Earth might be at the front of the minds of many people.

How long has this Season been happening?

Orthodox Christians have been marking the Season of Creation for decades. It started in 1989, when Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed 1 September as a day of prayer for the environment. That day actually marks the beginning of the Eastern Orthodox church year.

Around that time, focus on the environment was ratcheting up worldwide. Two years earlier, the World Commission on Environment and Development released its Our Common Future report, from which developed the Earth Charter — a declaration outlining the ethical principles for sustainable development throughout the world. The charter was a central focus of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which formed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In 2015, negotiations stemming from this process produced the Paris Agreement, which charts a global plan to limit the planet’s rising temperatures.

Over time, the single day of prayer expanded to a full season, with the World Council of Churches playing a leading role. One of the first organized celebrations of the season was held in 2000 at a Lutheran church in Adelaide, Australia. In 2003, the Catholic Church in the Philippines began asking Catholics to observe Creation Time.

More recently, the Season of Creation has become a more ecumenical celebration among all Christians. And the past few years have seen it gain traction among Catholics. For that, you can point to Pope Francis.

Just months after publishing his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis formally added the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation to the Catholic calendar as an annual day of prayer. And last year, he officially invited Catholics to celebrate the full season.

“Now is the time to rediscover our vocation as children of God, brothers and sisters, and stewards of creation. Now is the time to repent, to be converted and to return to our roots,” he wrote in a letter. “We are beloved creatures of God, who in his goodness calls us to love life and live it in communion with the rest of creation. For this reason, I strongly encourage the faithful to pray in these days that, as the result of a timely ecumenical initiative, are being celebrated as a Season of Creation.”

So is it just a time for prayer?

Prayer is certainly a central part of it.

In recent years, ecumenical organizers have suggested themes as a way to unify celebrations across communities and call attention to ecological challenges facing the world. Last year, for instance, the Season of Creation put the spotlight on biodiversity, at a time when scientists predicted “unprecedented” extinction rates that could wipe out up to 1 million species in the coming decades.

This year, organisers suggested the theme, “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.” Jubilee, in biblical terms, refers to a period of restoration every 50 years, when the land rests and justice is restored. The theme is, in part, a nod to the 50th celebration of Earth Day, which occurred in April. That the global coronavirus pandemic came as the planet nears climate tipping points shows how social, economic and ecological realities are interconnected, the Season of Creation steering committee said in explaining the theme.

This prayer for the 2020 Season of Creation 1 September – 4 October asks God’s help in making people aware that, just as people and animals need rest, so does the Earth.

“During the season this year, we enter a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth, that requires radically new ways of living with creation,” the committee said, including “the need for just and sustainable systems” to take better care of both people and planet.

The Vatican’s integral human development department highlighted the theme earlier this year in announcing a special yearlong celebration for the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’. It expressed hope that the coming decade might become a ” ‘Jubilee’ time for the Earth,” lining up with the timeframe scientists say is critical to nearly halve global greenhouse gas emissions and put the planet on course to limit average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

How do people observe the Season of Creation?

Countless examples abound.

Special prayer services and liturgies that reflect on the sacredness of creation are common.

The Irish bishops produced a series of podcasts, covering the theology of creation care along with the science of climate change and what they can do as parishes. And the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops created a bulletin insert with information and prayers for the season.

Some hold traditional celebrations of the Feast of St. Francis, including a blessing of animals. The Catholic Climate Covenant produces annual programs for the Assisi feast day that can be used throughout the season.

And some Catholics have used the Season of Creation as a time to commit to living out Laudato Si’.

Many have taken to planting trees, as in the Indianapolis Archdiocese, Lancaster, England, the Philippine capital of Manila and Papua New Guinea. In 2015, the Philippine church used the season as a time to gather signatures for a Catholic Climate Petition delivered later that year to world leaders at the U.N. climate summit in Paris. The Chicago Archdiocese has urged Catholics to advocate for federal environmental legislation.

Some Catholic groups have used the time to publicly declare their commitment to financially divest from fossil fuels, as the Assisi Diocese in Italy and 30-plus other institutions did in 2017. And last year, the youth-led Laudato Si’ Generation and other Catholics joined the climate strikes that took place around the globe.

At the Vatican, Francis used his 2016 message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation to suggest Christians add “care for our common home” to both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The next year, he and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued a joint message urging political and business leaders to respond to pleas for “healing of our wounded creation.” And in 2019, the pope participated in a tree planting in the Vatican Gardens ahead of the Amazon synod.

The Vatican’s integral human development department made the Season of Creation a focal point for the Laudato Si’ anniversary year, and it has encouraged bishops and ecclesial bodies to raise awareness of the season, “helping the faithful to realize that ‘living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience’ (Laudato Si’ 217).”

Source: Earthbeat-what is the Season of Creation


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