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Earth Day: An Invitation to Love

Earth Day: An Invitation to Love

It does not feel like it, but Earth Day has been recognized in the United States for over 50 years. It does not feel like we have been celebrating today for that long simply because we have not really shifted how we understand the fullness of creation care, and we continue to do things that harm the very fabric of creation. We continue to use materials that are not easily recycled – perhaps single-use plastics being the worst among them. We continue to treat water as an unending resource without thinking about the ways that we use water in one community to the detriment of life in another. We continue to drive vehicles that spew harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that are causing pollution in our community. (The Phoenix metro area moved up two places on the list of most polluted metropolitan areas in the United States. We are not the 5th most polluted metro area in the country according to KJZZ News.) There is much that we need to shift about our understanding of what it means to be good stewards of creation and all that entails! 

Invocation

Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

I    The Cosmic Order

Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord, *
    O heavens and all waters above the heavens.
Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew, *
    all winds and fire and heat.
Winter and Summer, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, *
drops of dew and flakes of snow.
Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O nights and days, *
    O shining light and enfolding dark.
Storm clouds and thunderbolts, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Canticle 12: A Song of Creation, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 88-89

The opening of Canticle 12, A Song of Creation, invites us to think of the grandeur of the cosmos in which we exist. The prayer of the canticle calls our attention to those things that are much loftier than us and to remember that we are connected to the fabric of the cosmos in a very real sense. Our prayer calling on angels, seasons, precipitation, chill and cold, frost, ice, cold, and thunderbolts to glorify the Lord is really a reminder for us: find your place within creation by aligning with the love that powers the cosmos. Be like these other things that, through their very existence and doing what they do naturally, glorify the Lord. It is a reminder to find our place within the boundaries of creation through our practice of love, and it is a reminder that when we operate in relationship with cosmos we will find there’s plenty good room at God’s table in God’s cosmos. 

II    The Earth and its Creatures

Let the earth glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,
and all that grows upon the earth, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams, *
    O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild, *
    and all you flocks and herds.
O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Canticle 12: A Song of Creation, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 88-89

Let the earth glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever. Let us find our place within the boundaries of this creation in order that all the other creatures within creation are able to continue glorifying the Lord through their existence alongside humanity. 

O whales and all that move within the seas, all flocks and herds, birds of the air, mountains, and valleys, glorify the Lord, praise God, and highly exalt him forever. O men and women everywhere, glorify God. The lands and skies and seas do not need to be reminded to glorify the Lord. Through being what they are, they are glorifying the Lord. They have found their place within creation, and they occupy it as their way of glorifying God.

The last stanza of this section of the canticle is for us to hear, to mark in our hearts, and to inwardly digest. It is a prompt for us to recognize that we are invited to find our place within creation through the practice of love with all of creation and with each other. We are called to create societies that allow the fruitfulness of humanity to be how we glorify the Lord. It is a reminder that we too exist within this creation, and it is a reminder that our very existence relies upon our loving relationship with creation. It is a reminder that we have brothers and sisters that are suffering greatly right now: fellow human beings, beasts of the wild, whales of the seas, fish of the streams, and birds of the air. The mountains are groaning for relief and crying out that we will see and hear the need to be reconciled with our Sister Mother Earth, Sister Moon, and Brother Sun. (Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis of Assisi)

III    The People of God

Let the people of God glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O priests and servants of the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Canticle 12: A Song of Creation, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 88-89

Finally, we get to the section of the canticle that invites the Church to glorify the Lord. As those who follow in The Way of Christ, we are invited to be bearers of love in the world, and as has been the case since the days that Christ walked the face of Sister Mother Earth, we are called to do what we can to create a more loving society around us. We are called to show the world how love is the only thing powerful enough to transform our hearts. We are called to be the Church and to look and see the pain that is being shouldered by creation and those who are within it. It is a call to show up for the life that is present in the cosmos, and we are called to remember there’s plenty good room, plenty good room in God’s cosmos. 

Our practice of being the Church will push us beyond the places we are comfortable. Love is going to continue to invite us into places that are painful for us to see and to hear – from the stories of black and brown people suffering under the racist systems to the pollution of our air and water and seas to the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed. I think it is safe to say that all three of these areas, which are the three main foci of The Episcopal Church right now, will push us into places in which we find discomfort, but I also think it is important that we continue to show up there. It is important to be seen as witnesses and to raise our voices in love for the sake of downtrodden (including the downtrodden Sister Mother Earth). We are called to be the Church and to show up in love beginning in our local community and moving outward from there – just as the disciples began in Jerusalem and moved outward. 

Doxology

Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Canticle 12: A Song of Creation, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 88-89

Today is Earth Day, and we are invited to celebrate the beauty of Sister Mother Earth. We are invited to practice love with all the creatures who exist within it. We are invited to look and see God in all that is around us. We are invited to love. 

In Christ,

Hunter+