A Season for Creation - by Kylah Lohnes
It seems that everything is unpredictable now. We don’t know from one week to the next what we will be allowed to do or where we will be able to go. Perhaps that’s why I’ve found myself reflecting on seasons, the steady and cyclical rhythms that flow through time year after year. Winter moved to spring, spring to summer and now summer is moving into fall. I don’t know all that I’ll be doing or where I might be going, but I know that in due time the season of summer will end and I’ll welcome the crisp air and colourful leaves of fall.
Many churches observe seasons as well, most commonly Advent and Lent. However, in many church traditions September marks the “Season of Creation”. This season is observed by Christians of many denominations. The season starts with the “Day of Prayer for Creation” on Sept. 1 and ends with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (the patron saint of ecology) on Oct. 4. While Baptist churches haven’t traditionally observed a season of creation, this season falls perfectly in line with Scripture and is useful for our personal, spiritual and collective lives.
While it is true that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1), it’s equally true that the natural world isn’t meant just for our consumption or passive enjoyment. God creates human beings and commands them to tend to the earth and care for it (Genesis 2:15). We were made to be intimately connected to the land and see how its well-being promotes our well-being. We care for creation because it is our source of food and shelter, but also because it provides beauty, joy and health in intangible ways. We also care for creation because doing so is an act of worship, reminding us that the earth really is the Lord’s and not ours, and therefore we have no right to work towards its destruction and a responsibility to promote its well-being.
Caring for creation is also an incredible act of justice. The effects of abusing the natural world are felt around the globe, but they are increasingly and acutely felt by the most vulnerable. As the world experiences more extreme weather in the form of droughts, floods and storms, the world’s poor are often the hardest hit and the least able to recover. When we act to mitigate and stop the effects of climate change, we are working for international justice. We are also working for intergenerational justice since we are striving to provide a healthier and more stable planet for those who come after us. When caring for creation is done in partnership with Indigenous people it is also an act of justice that seeks to understand another’s point of view, reconcile relationships and offer reparations for past damages to peoples’ homes, families and land.
Season of Creation is about recognizing that caring for creation is an act of worship and an act of justice to which God calls all believers. So how do we respond to that call?
Spiritually – Incorporate creation into your personal and communal spiritual practices. Pray outside. Pray for the natural world and those affected by natural disasters. Read Scripture passages about creation. Talk about creation in your bible studies, sermons, small groups and WMS meetings. For the Love of Creation (a Canadian faith-based initiative working on climate justice) has a great reflection exercise that you can use individually or in a group to reflect on the connections between creation, yourself and God the Creator. (Click box below for reflection exercise)
Collectively – Gather with a few friends or family members and talk about ways that you can care for creation. Consider how to make your home or church or workplace more environmentally-friendly or how to increase the amount of green space in your area. Write letters and email or make phone calls to political leaders asking them to take important action towards climate justice. Consider the value of green policies and plans for environmental stewardship when you vote. If you’re not sure what that looks like, do some research about the things that environmental organizations are asking of governments. Things such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, investing in renewable energy infrastructure, upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples and supporting countries in the Global South who disproportionately face the effects of climate change.
Personally – Take small steps like recycling, composting and picking up litter. Use less electricity and water by using energy efficient appliances, turning off taps and lights and doing fewer loads of laundry. Buy less stuff so that you create less waste and buy local when possible so that what you buy doesn’t travel as far. Eat less meat and dairy which create significantly more greenhouse gases than plant-based foods. Learn about the places where you live, what plants and animals are native to the land, what your watershed is, what species are endangered or at risk and how you can help preserve them. Talk to the people you know and love about why creation matters and how you can care for it.
Whatever this September looks like for you, I pray that you make time to observe this Season of Creation and that through it God transforms our communities to become spaces where all of creation can flourish together.