It used to bother me when people would excuse themselves from summer worship attendance by saying: “I experience God in nature.” Yet in this pandemic summer, many more congregations than usual are meeting outside, if they are meeting in-person. We may be having worship virtually, but for the tangible cues we receive about a place of holiness or reverence, the silence or contemplative space is more readily available on a walk in the woods or watching the movement of natural bodies of water than in our sanctuaries. This could be an opportunity to embrace ecotheology as we never have before. To set aside a season of creation or even embedding preaching and teaching on creation care in our regular rhythms may seem daunting without some resources and theologians to guide us. There is a Season of Creation lectionary designed for use in September, leading up to the feast day of St. Francis, but it could be used anytime. Here is a resource round-up to get you started.
Many denominations have groups that focus on environmental issues, or are part of a larger association of churches doing this work together. For example:
There are theologians and writers to follow online. Here are just a few examples:
Dr. Leah Schade, Eco-Preacher: An Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary, Dr. Schade is a regular blogger on environmental issues, writes lectionary commentaries for Lutherans Restoring Creation and her 2015 book on the topic is Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit.
Dr. Melanie L. Harris, Eco-Womanist Theologian: An Associate Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, Dr. Harris makes the crucial connections between the theology and experience of black Christians and creation care. Dr. Harris’ 2017 book on the topic is Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth-Honoring Faiths.
Kaitlin Curtice, writer on the intersection of Christianity and Indigenous identity: A columnist for Sojourners and out-spoken voice on social media, Curtice’s new book Native: Identity, Belonging and Rediscovering Godintertwines story and wisdom from her Potowatomi roots to delve into faith, ecology and oppression.
Commentaries and More
Denominational resources listed above often include prayers, litanies and Scripture commentary to support creation care worship and teaching. Here are several others:
- Working Preacher has a series of commentaries for the 3 RCL Seasons of Creation
- The Text This Week also includes its collection of commentaries, images, children’s bulletins and much more for the Season of Creation, at the bottom of this page
- The theme for the 2020 Festival of Homiletics was “Preaching a New Creation.” If you did not live-stream the online event, you can still purchase the recordings.
- Weekly devotions for the Season of Creation 2020 from the leaders of 4 denominations
Build a Foundation
The Earth is our home, and beloved by God our Creator just as humankind is. In Leah Schade’s book Creation-Crisis Preaching, she reminds preachers that we must build a foundation of creation care through regular preaching, so that when a specific issue threatens our community we have the foundation to not only care for the earth, but a theological sense of humility and interconnectedness to build upon.