Season of Creation Resource
In 1989 the “Season of Creation” event began as a day of prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church. By 2001 the event was also recognized by major European churches, and it eventually spread around the world, now spanning the period of four weeks from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4 and closing on the Feast of St. Francis.
Through the CRCNA’s Climate Witness Project, there is now a new resource for Christian Reformed congregations to help participants focus on this time in the liturgical calendar.
"As Christians, we believe that the heavens declare the glory of God. We see, in the wonders around us, clear evidence of the Creator’s mighty hand. We recognize how the brokenness of sin harms nature. This is why we celebrate the Season of Creation, a time in which the church praises God for creation’s beauty, focuses on their call as caretakers, and laments the brokenness and the groaning of all creation," said Kris Van Engen, Climate Witness Program team cordinator.
The liturgies of the Climate Witness Project resource flow from these core Reformed beliefs. Andrew Oppong, justice mobilization specialist with the Climate Witness Project, appreciates the focus of the observance.
“The Season of Creation is a unique time for the church to renew our ecumenical unity and resolve as we immerse in prayer and action in the call to care for our common home. It is a time for churches around the globe to cultivate intentional spiritual practices and disciplines that orient our hearts toward a collective goal -- the renewal of our relationship with creation and God,” he said.
The Climate Witness Project partnered with Church of the Servant CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich., to publish these resources. Two members of the congregation, Ron and Debra Rienstra, worked with the church worship committee to develop the liturgical resources, which they first put to use during the 2021 Season of Creation.
Debra Rienstra said that even though she had a hand in developing the liturgies, she still found them personally powerful once the worship began. The development process “kind of fades into the background when you’re actually worshiping. The words now belong to the whole congregation. . . . A worship service is truly an offering of gifts from many people, including every worshiper,” she wrote.
As a member of Church of the Servant’s Creation Care Team, at the time the liturgy was written Steve Mulder says that celebrating the Season of Creation is healing for him.
“One of the greatest challenges in my faith life comes out of the broken connections between the Creator, the humans he created, and the larger creation. The month of the Season of Creation gives me time to start to heal those fractures. One result is a firmer foundation of hope and increased strength for action.”
For Pastor Katie Ritsema Roelofs, resource and communications coordinator for Worship Ministries, these liturgies help us see the bigger picture of what it means to be a part of the worldwide body of Christ.
“This season falls immediately before our denomination's celebration of All Nations Heritage and World Communion Sunday. Part of these celebrations includes recognizing our participation in the broader church. And part of that participation involves recognizing what we have in common (creation, for example), praying in solidarity over what is wrong (all creation groans, and we suffer with those who suffer), and a commitment to sharing and caring,” she said.
The Climate Witness Project is now offering 5 weeks of Season of Creation Liturgies as a free download for worship leaders, liturgists, pastors, and laypeople. These resources for the five Sundays of the Season of Creation are designed to help leaders shepherd their communities and congregations through the joys and laments of our relationship with creation.
“God of creation, we give thanks for the beauty and goodness of the earth that you called into being and continually nurture and sustain. Our voices join in praise with all creation: with the sea that roars, the trees that clap their hands, and the birds that sing in joy.” (Season of Creation Liturgy, Week 5)