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Worship Resources for Earth Day

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LITANIES

A Litany For the Sea and All its Creatures

We give you thanks, oh LORD, for you are good. 
 
Because your love endures forever!

We give you thanks, God of gods. 
   
For your love endures forever!

You alone made all great wonders, 
   
For your love endures forever!

With your understanding you made the heavens, 
   
For your love endures forever!

It was you who spread the earth out upon the waters, 
  
For your love endures forever!

It was you who made the great lights 
   
For your love endures forever!

And who gives food to every creature. 
  
Because your love endures forever!

Lord of lords, today life seems to demonstrate that our actions hurt that which you created by love.  Lord, in your mercy,
Continue loving us, forever!

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A Litany for Healing

Leader:
To bring new life to the land
To restore the waters
To refresh the air
Response: We join with the earth and with each other.

Leader:
To renew the forests
To care for the plants
To protect the creatures
Response: We join with the earth and with each other.

Leader:
To celebrate the seas
To rejoice in the sunlight
To sing the song of the stars
Response: We join with the earth and with each other.

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A Litany of Hope

We have gathered this day, O God, as your people, as members of your Church.

We join together to worship and praise you, our Creator,
and we join in lifting our prayers for the Earth.

With the prophets and the psalmists,
we have the courage to speak to you of our despair and our fear.

Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress,
my soul is in tumult, my heart is wrung within me.
(Lamentations 1:20)

We raise to you, O God, our awareness of the trauma of our world:
the suffering and death inflicted by toxins and pollution,
the destruction of places where we once found beauty and serenity,
and the ongoing devastation of ecosystems.

Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my groaning. (Psalms 5:1)

We lift our anguish at the demise of species and the loss of diversity,
the pollution of air and water and soil,
the transformation even of oceans and atmosphere.
We grieve and fear at the Earth’s distress.

Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my groaning. (Psalms 5:1)

Because we trust in you, O God, we are not defeated!
We live in faith, and with vision that goes beyond the distress of this day.

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PRAYERS

Prayers of Penitence

Deacon: Lord of all,
we thank you for our universe with its infinite fascination,
for our world with all its wonder.
For our countryside with all its beauty
for life itself in all its incredible variety.
Loving Lord
All: hear our prayer.

Deacon: There is so much that gives us pleasure,
that offers us fulfillment,
that captures our imagination,
that challenges and inspires,
that gives us cause to look forward with anticipation,
that speaks to us of your great love.
Loving Lord
All: hear our prayer.

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Prayers of Intercession

Reader 1: Genesis 2:8-9: “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground - trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”

Reader 2: We thank you Lord for trees, for tall trees that tower over us, for trees we can climb, and for tiny seeds that grow into huge forests. We thank you for the colours of leaves in autumn, for fruits and nuts that we love to eat, for shade and shelter, for fuel and firewood.

Readers 1 & 2: Thank you Lord for making trees.

All: Thank you Lord for making trees.

Reader 3: Psalm 104:16-17: “The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the junipers.”

Reader 4: We praise you Lord that you water and care for the trees you have planted. Thank you that trees give homes and food to so many birds, animals and other creatures. Thank you for forests full of wonderful and mysterious living things.

Readers 3 & 4: Thank you Lord for making trees.

All: Thank you Lord for making trees.

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Gaelic Prayer

May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed Sunlight shine on you and warm your heart until it glows, so that a stranger may come and be warmed by it, and also a friend. May the light shine out of the two eyes of you like a candle set in two windows of a house, bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.

May the blessing of the Rain be on you-soft, sweet rain. May it fall upon your spirit so that flowers may spring up. And may the Great Rains be on you. May they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean, and leave there many a shining pool where the blue of heaven shines reflected, and sometimes a star.

May the blessing of the Earth be on you-the great and round earth. May you have a kindly greeting for folks you pass as you’re going along the roads. May the earth be soft under you when you lie upon it, tired at the close of the day.


Prayer by St. Patrick

At Tara today in this fateful hour
I place all heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness
And the Earth with its starkness;
All these I place
By God's almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of Darkness. 


Excerpt from If Darwin Prayed by Bruce Sanguin

Presider: We open to the possibility of peace,
starting with ourselves.
We commit to being vulnerable.
with one other person this day.
All: Yes, we open to the possibility of peace.

Presider: We commit to being open to the suffering of one other being this week.
All: Yes, we open to the possibility of peace.

Presider: We consent to having our heart broken open by injustice this month.
All: Yes, we open to the possibility of peace.

Presider: We commit, this year, to the resting in the heart of Christ so that violence in our hearts may be transformed.
All: Yes, we open to the possibility of peace.

Presider: We commit to being the voice of our beleaguered planet.
All: Yes, we open to the possibility of peace, starting with ourselves. Amen.


MUSIC

Music Prayer

Thank you for the music all around us.
Each morning we hear it from the moment we open our ears;
the low notes of wind around the eaves
the whoosh of water as it comes from the tap
the glug glug as it drains
the throaty whistle of the boiling kettle
the metallic tap of the spoon against the cup
the jazz percussion of our feet on the steps.
The sounds of our day,
so familiar we hardly pay attention.
Thank you for the ability to hear.

Thank you for the sounds of life
the chatter of the squirrel
the deep purr of  a cat
the sharp calls of a blue jay
the sound of someone we love laughing.
Give us wisdom to enter this day with good sounds,
tones and pitches and words that affirm, encourage, cherish,
our sounds affecting the world in a positive way.

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SERMONS

Pacem in terris: Easter, Earth Day, and Pentecost’s promise - Ken Sehested
April 2017, prayer&politiks

This “world” is not my home; but this earth is.
We are not drifters: directionless, detached,
disaffected, suffering neither loves nor longings,
risking no hopes, claimed by no promises.

We are in fact squatters, occupying the land
and waters whose only trustworthy deed
challenges every indenturing creed, every
realty’s lien which privileges the few at the

Expense of the many. We seek no flight to
another terrain for it is this very domain—
every meadow’s shadow, every peak’s brow,
every river’s careen, every furrow’s plough—

Which asserts heaven’s riposte to Hades’ advance.

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How Would Your Life Change if a Mountain was Your Neighbor? – Anita Peebles
Preached on Fri, Oct 25, 2014 at the Nashville Regional Festival of Young Preachers.

In late January 2012, I found myself in a little tiny car driving up Black Mountain. Black Mountain is in southeastern Kentucky on the border with Virginia, and is known for its black bears, cougars, and coal. It is also the highest peak in Kentucky. As I drove up that mountain, the January fog got thicker and thicker, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see anything but clouds at the peak. Up and up and up I drove, around breakneck bends with no guardrail on the side. Up and up and up I drove, until I rounded the last bend and pulled over into a gravel parking area.

What I saw when I stepped out of the car made me weep.

What I could see over the border into Virginia was Mountain Top Removal. Mountaintop removal is the process of using dynamite to blast off the top ridge of a mountain to expose coal seams; in many places it is used instead of deep underground mining. The phrase “laid waste” took on a new meaning. Where there were supposed to be endless parallel ridges of Appalachian glory, there lay only the long ropy scars from the naked coal seams. Where there had been vast forests, there lay pits excavated by dynamite blasts. Where there had been a skyline that humans had born witness to over thousands of years, there lay only the flat triumph of human power and greed over the breadth and beauty of God’s creation.

This sight moved me deeply. Black Mountain was also in line for Mountain Top Removal.

Right there on that mountain, I decided that I could not live in the way that I had been before—namely, in chosen ignorance about the destruction of extractive industries. Standing there in the cold on top of that mountain, I vowed that my children and grandchildren would see mountains. Right there on that mountain, the paradigm in which I saw my life shifted, and I was faced with a choice—to pass by or to act.

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My Neighbor, the Mountain: Earth Day Sermon – Anita Peebles
April 2015

Founded in 1970 and leading to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day began in part as a desire to raise as much awareness about the deterioration of the natural environment as was raised by student demonstrations protesting the Vietnam War. Earth Day was born out of a struggle for justice in its many dimensions, and has seen worldwide movement after being founded in the United States.

As expected, my Facebook newsfeed was chock full of folks posting about climate activist art and 350.org and ways to abolish extractive industries and people planting trees and everything you could ever think of that is related to care for the Earth. The obligatory post quoting the Native American proverb “We don’t inherit this planet from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” showed up about every other minute. Pictures of folk spending sunny days in their garden (highlighting the pastoral) and hiking huge mountain ranges and steep canyons (highlight the sublime) were ubiquitous. [But only for one day]

What was I doing on Earth Day? Not gardening or hiking or planting trees.

Naturally, having a Facebook argument with a dear friend, who also happens to be a climate change denier.

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Christian Faith and Earth Day – Dr. David Wheeler
March 2016

Friday, April 22, is the 36th annual Earth Day. Some Christians are anxious about this celebration, fearing that it shifts our reverence from the Creator to the creation itself. But precisely as a Christian, I hold two very simple convictions concerning our relationship to the Earth. First, if we love God we will love what God has made. As the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1). And second, if we love God we will love what God loves. The creation account found in Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 expresses God’s delight at each stage of the creative process, and concludes, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). How dare we proclaim our love for God if we do not cherish, protect, nurture and enjoy this earth and the whole array of living things with which we share it!  

Let me share with you an experience that focused this conviction for me. From 1978 to present I have had the privilege of living, teaching and pastoring in bilingual settings (Spanish-English), beginning with my invitation to serve the Portola Baptist Church / Iglesia Bautista Portola in the city of San Francisco, while I was a graduate student  across the bay in Berkeley. These dear people taught me many lessons about life and faith, including the delight that they take in the joys of this life – romantic love, family, table fellowship and beautiful surroundings – at the same time that they look forward with assurance to the life everlasting. 

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ARTICLES

Renewing the Covenant – Victoria Furio
July 18, 2014

When we see the water, that most sacred of elements, disappear from rivers and streams
When we hear the wind howl in yet another massive storm
We will know the future is here.

For many, that future is now, whether it be India,  Australia, the Philippines, or the Mid-West, repeatedly ravaged by floods of biblical proportions; or relentless drought creating deserts in Africa, famine in Somalia, and fears of a new Dust Bowl in California and the Southwest. As a warming earth melts Himalayan glaciers, the water of life will cease to trickle into the great Asian rivers from the Ganges to the Yangtze. Where will 1.5 billion people flee to in their desperation?

Not only are humans at risk, but every animal and plant, bird and fish, will soon face the struggle to survive. With predictions of global temperature rises approaching 3ºC as early as 2030 , erratic, extreme weather events will become the norm, coupled by water scarcity and the collapse of food and eco-systems. Deforestation and the continued burning of fossil fuels have already produced an extinction rate 1,000 times higher than normal, and scientists are warning that half or more of all plant and animal species on Earth will be gone in 30 to 40 years. The Sixth Great Extinction looms on the horizon.

We may not be connecting the dots, but at every turn we now see reports of cities under water, tornadoes wiping out towns, wildfires out of control, and persistent drought, here and around the world. To cite just one example: because of climate disruptions, California has been in the grip of an historic three-year drought, the driest conditions in 500 years . Some 30% of US produce comes from the Central Valley, but farmlands lie fallow, and ranchers have been forced to slaughter or sell their cattle due to parched pasturelands. In January, 17 municipalities were on the verge of running out of drinking water . Seven western and central states are affected, and entire industries are threatened. From Oklahoma to Oregon, cotton, wheat, rice, and dairy yields have dropped by as much as half; Texas has seen meat-packing plants close. The livelihoods of hundreds of thousands may be vanishing.

In May, the White House released its National Climate Assessment , providing detailed projections for each region of the country. For the Mid-Atlantic States, the forecast is for 60 days a year over 90º. Given the triple digit temperatures and suffocating heat in recent summers, this will likely mean weeks on end of oppressive heat and humidity. The trend is global. This summer, Australia registered a scorching 129ºF, shattering its previous record . A hotter world places agriculture and all living creatures into question.

We also may not be conscious of the gradual sea-level rise, but conservative estimates predict an increase of 1-4 feet by the end of this century . With snowcaps melting faster than expected, coastal areas around the world are threatened, and in the U.S., the effects can already be seen from Delaware to Louisiana. Ocean acidification from CO2 absorption is causing a die-off of marine life that can start with the smallest of links in the chain, such as plankton and coral reefs, crucial sources of food and shelter for large fish populations. In May, shock waves were felt around the world when a massive Antarctic glacier broke off, set to double or triple sea-level rises. A collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is now irreversible. NASA scientists declared the melting to be “past the point of no return.”

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OTHER

An Earth Day edition of Sign of the Times, the blog from BPFNA Founding Director Ken Sehested. (2016)

An Earth Day edition of Sign of the Times, the blog from BPFNA Founding Director Ken Sehested. (2017)

A collection of Earth Day resources from Ken Sehested.


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